The following are excerpts. (r.a. note)
Truth-Out – By Andrew Bacevich, TomDispatch Posted Fri., Dec.02, 2016
Even if commander-in-chief Trump were somehow able to identify modern day equivalents of General Grant and Sherman to implement his war plans, secret or otherwise, would they deliver victory?
On that score, we would do well to entertain doubts.
Although senior officers charged with running recent American wars have not exactly covered themselves in glory, it doesn’t follow that their shortcomings offer the sole or even a principal explanation for why those wars have yielded such disappointing results.
The truth is that some wars aren’t winnable and shouldn’t be fought.
Trump’s critique of American generalship possesses merit, but whether he knows it or not, the question truly demanding his attention isn’t: Who should I hire (or fire) to fight my wars? Instead, far more urgent is: Does further war promise to solve any of my problems?
.As a candidate, Trump vowed to “defeat radical Islamic terrorism,” destroy ISIS, “decimate al-Qaeda,” and “starve funding for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah.” Those promises imply a significant escalation of what Americans used to call the Global War on Terrorism.
Toward that end, the incoming administration may well revive some aspects of the George W. Bush playbook, including repopulating the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and reinstituting torture. The Trump administration will at least consider re-imposing sanctions on countries like Iran…
Yet President Trump is also likely to double down on the use of conventional military force. In that regard, his promise to “quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS” offers a hint of what is to come.
His appointment of the uber-hawkish Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and his rumored selection of retired Marine Corps General James (“Mad Dog”) Mattis as defense secretary suggest that he means what he says.
In sum, a Trump administration seems unlikely to re-examine the conviction that the problems inflaming the Greater Middle East will someday, somehow yield to a US-imposed military solution. Indeed, in the face of massive evidence to the contrary, that conviction will deepen, with genuinely ironic implications for the Trump presidency.
In the immediate wake of 9/11, George W. Bush concocted a fantasy of American soldiers liberating oppressed Afghans and Iraqis and thereby “draining the swamp” that served to incubate anti-Western terrorism.
The results achieved proved beyond disappointing, while the costs exacted in terms of lives and dollars squandered were painful indeed. Many Americans concluded that perhaps the swamp most in need of attention was not on the far side of the planet but much closer at hand — right in the imperial city nestled alongside the Potomac River.
To a very considerable extent, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, preferred candidate of the establishment, because he advertised himself as just the guy disgruntled Americans could count on to drain that swamp.
Yet here’s what too few of those Americans appreciate, even today: war created that swamp in the first place.
War empowers When it comes to sustaining the swamp, nothing works better than war.
Were Trump really intent on draining that swamp — if he genuinely seeks to “Make America Great Again” — then he would extricate the United States from war. But don’t hold your breath on that one.
All signs indicate that, in one fashion or another, our combative next president will perpetuate the wars he’s inheriting. And soon enough, those who elected him with expectations of seeing the much-despised establishment dismantled will realize that they’ve been had.
Which brings us, finally, to that third question: To the extent that deficiencies at the top of the military hierarchy do affect the outcome of wars, what can be done to fix the problem?
The most expeditious approach: purge all currently serving three- and four-star officers; then, make a precondition for promotion to those ranks confinement in a re-education camp run by Iraq and Afghanistan war amputees, with a curriculum designed by Veterans for Peace.
Graduation should require each student to submit an essay reflecting on these words of wisdom from US Grant himself: “There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword.”
True, such an approach may seem a bit draconian. But this is no time for half-measures — as even Donald Trump may eventually recognize.