“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted, it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience.”
In spite of its enormous power and wealth, America is not strong on successful colonial and ideological military adventures. Its been roughly a century since Teddy Roosevelt waged war on Spain and successfully put in place the last piece of America's Manifest Destiny. Since then, the nation has waged colonial aggression through corporate proxies, typically subverting the establishment of socialist democracies that were hostile to American economic interests. Thus lies the undying enmity of our South American neighbors. These aggressions in our own Monroe Doctrine sphere and in South East Asia have ultimately proved disastrous to the civil stability of our own democracy and long-term strategic interests.
There are layers of agenda. Our current Commander in Chief, George Bush, hit to the heart of the essence when he said quite matter-of-factly in his recent press address, "Money trumps … ummm … peace, sometimes." To this writer's knowledge, no one picked up on that statement and it was one of those rare moments when our pathological President spoke the 'honest' truth. The idea that we are exporting democracy to the heart of the Middle East is in every respect a complete absurdity. Such a goal, however desirably it might reflect our own founding myths, is to the rationally trained historian and academy trained strategist at best a very long term and infinitely complex process. But ideology is an impatient beast and prowls by violent hunger, most often irrespective of the wisdom of historical perspective.
What is revealed by current history in handling the Iraq war is a tangle of corporate colonialism that impatiently sought to capture the world's second largest oil reserves in the very heart of the Middle East and establish a permanent American military presence in the region to guarantee the security of Iraq's vanquished natural resources and its protected route of transport to ports in the south. The same perspective applied to Afghanistan once the Taliban, former American funded provocateurs, became too difficult to control. Naturally 9/11 became the rallying cry for every possible destructive impulse that ideology could contrive. That ideology we know well as neo-conservatism.
Neo-conservatism is a dangerous and unstable ideology and a profoundly anti-democratic, anti-American phenomena. Fascist in essence, the total package is poisonous as a gestalt of radical religious fundamentalism, trans-government economics, legal and illegal determinism, and unilateral militarism.
Characteristic of the Bush administration is the disastrous and seemingly unstoppable entropy of incompetence that is mandating a certain failure of all the above ventures and the rapid decline of the American state, at least as most of us have always conceived it to be a true democracy. The Cassandra of our age, wailing the judgment, is New Orleans. That great city's ruin is the perfect paradigm of what awaits the country as a whole. When Bush leaves office and bequeaths the next administration a balloon loaded with explosive nails, the financial interests that bought us our demise will profit mightily from our collective tragedy. These people plan well. Cheney's retirement fortunes are tied to Halliburton's profits in Iraq and he is but an example how the neo-con ideology is fundamentally not about America, but a trans-global corporate governance.
“All warfare is based on deception.”
-- Sun Tzu
Our interest here is the waging of war on Iraq. 9/11 was the convenient catalyst that permitted the Bush junta to shift into high gear full implementation of its corporate empire plans. Afghanistan, one of the most primitive countries on earth, was a breeze to conquer. So thought the Soviet Union, once upon a time. So thought the British, once upon a time. America's sole purpose in Afghanistan is not the importation of democracy, nation building, or avenging 9/11. It is to hold a permanent military presence consisting of a string of large bases that protect a conduit of oil flowing from the provinces (the 'stans') of the former Soviet Union to friendly shipping routes through client state Pakistan and India. America's betrayal of democracy and indifference to quality of life in Afghanistan is appalling and gives full lie to the fiction of our altruistic presence there. Typically, as in South American states catering to American interests, an illegal drug economy measured in the billions thrives to support our proxy paramilitary enforcers.
Our presence in Iraq, even if Baghdad is briefly subdued, will prove to be the single greatest strategic blunder in American history. Our adventure there will fail utterly with devastating consequences. Our own civil democratic institutions are weakening, our form of government is changing as perpetual war demands withdrawal of Constitutional rights, our economy is hostage to the Far East, our borders are neglected, and Homeland Security is a complete sham. America is quickly becoming a house of cards as it sells off its basic infrastructure to foreign interests.
Who were the Pentagon geniuses that let Rumsfeld unleash his experimental fantasy of war on the Middle East? Even an intelligent high school kid can figure out that you can't wage a colonial war in the Middle East without a huge standing army. There were ample public discussions during the first Gulf war about inner urban warfare and the policing of occupation. It's hardly a strange concept, war will fail without ground boots, proper supply lines, equipment, and 'leadership.' War will never succeed on the cheap:
The general who loses a battle makes a few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.
When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. if you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength. Again, if the campaign is protected, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.
Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. Contributing to an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.
In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaign. Now when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.
"THERE IS NO INSTANCE OF A COUNTRY HAVING BENEFITED
-- Sun Tzu [emphasis author’s]
The American invasion of Iraq was brilliant and successful in military terms. But it was a chimera. Every scrubbed first year cadet knows Sun Tzu's fifth century BC treatise , The Art of War. It has been the bible of 'offensive/defensive' strategy for over two thousand years. We won the battle and have lost the war. Chief responsibility lies fully with the neo-con ideology of civilian command that has subverted virtually every rational decision made by competent Pentagon strategists.
There can be nothing more beloved of ideology than 'absolute change.' Nothing can guarantee absolute change like war, which is basically another form of politics and economy. The neocon ideologues or their enablers are largely composed of individuals who know virtually nothing of military service. These are the men who brought us failure. Is it any wonder?
Senate Republican Conference Chairman Jon Kyl, R-AZ - did not serve.
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-MO - did not serve.
House Republican Conerence Chair Adam Putnam, R-FL - did not serve.
House Republican Policy Committee Thaddeus McCotter, R-MI - did not serve.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney - did not serve in the military but did serve the Mormon Church on a 30-month mission to France.
Senator John McCain - McCain's naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. Why did the Bush campaign smear him so in 2000? At least Senators Cleland (D-GA), Kerry (D-MA), Kerrey (D-NE), Robb (D-VA) and Hagel (R-NE) defended him.
Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - avoided the draft, did not serve.
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey - avoided the draft, did not serve.
Former House Majority Whip Roy Blunt - did not serve
Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - did not serve.
George Felix Allen, former Republican Senator from Virginia - a supporter of Nixon and the Vietnam war, did not serve. (1GW Bush - decided that a six-year Nat'l Guard commitment really means four years. Still says that he's "been to war."
Phil Gramm - avoided the draft, did not serve, four (?) student deferments
Impressive list. Only one of the ruling junta served in the military, Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld is a unique neo-con ideologue in that he applied the concept of 'absolute change' to reformation of the military known as, "Full Spectrum Dominance," FSD. It is radical departure from all conventional defensive strategy and the poison fruit of DOD insider's insider, Andrew Marshall, known derisively as "the Dark Yoda." Marshall has been the "Dr. Strange Love" behind the scenes for nearly 40 years, but when protégé Rumsfelt assumed power as Secretary of Defense, his enigmatic theories became manifest, mostly in top secret net assessments of military conceptualization. Other 'star' neo-con protégés include Vice President Cheney and former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
Marshall and Rumsfeld have been critically polarizing influences in American military circles, which partially explains, at least on the surface, the unprecedented shakeups and public criticism of the two by high ranking 'retired' officers who know a thing or two about Sun Tzu. Marshall's revolution in military affairs includes preemptory strike, unilateralism, protracted nuclear war, Star Wars space weapons, and sub field armaments to 'terrorist' guerrilla militias employed as mercenaries by America. It was Marshall who was the mind behind the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration.
The list goes on. In Rumsfeld's hands, much of Marshall's doom fanaticisms translated to an 'economic' reformation of the services, which in peace brought substantial administrative restructuring. Translated into policy, it meant vast expenditures for weapons technology and a shift away from substantial boots support. As a result, 'shock and awe' captured Iraq in a week of spectacular air directed technology, but sent an occupation force ill equipped, under supplied and under staffed. For all the talk of supporting the troops that comes out of the mouths of the above service evaders ruling the country, it is they who have betrayed the troops with Rumsfeld's, Cheney's and the Commander in Chief's direct decisions of neglect. The only successful support and supply after nearly four years in Iraq is going to Haliburton, mercenaries, and every fly-by fraud carpet bagger hired by Bush and Company. On the cusp of another failed 'surge', we are once again reminded of Santayana: "Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim." And of Sun Tzu:
There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:
1. By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact it cannot obey. -- a major consideration for a foreign occupying army attempting to police a civil war.
2. By attempting to govern an army in the same way he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. Thank Paul Bremer and Rumsfelt for the destruction of Iraq's civil infrastructure, permitting vast looting of its national assets and cultural treasures, the disbandment of all its civil and policing administrative structures, failing to secure hundreds of armament caches which armed the ongoing resistance, permitting obscene civil rights abuses and lawlessness. The list goes on.
3. By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. After four years of failure the Bush administration is still picking its military leaders and civilian technicians based on ideological loyalty. The result is predictable:
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
If one knows oneself and one is a pathologically deviant neo-con the results are exponentially disastrous. From the genius of Donald Rumsfeld on Iraq:
As we know
There are unknowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
That, my fellow Americans, is the current state of the Republic. Not true noble tragedy, but a reaping of dissemblance, corruption and destruction by a lazy fantasy addicted, consumer brainwashed electorate that has recognized and elected the lowest common denominator of the criminally insane to lead us. But we must trust, bearing in mind Santayana's take on history, his take on hope:
“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.”
Michael Browne lives in Bennington Vermont. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.