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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tomgram: Engelhardt, They Just Can't Stop Themselves | TomDispatch

Tomgram: Engelhardt, They Just Can't Stop Themselves | TomDispatch

Washington’s Military Addiction
And The Ruins Still to Come
By Tom Engelhardt

There are the news stories that genuinely surprise you, and then
there are the ones that you could write in your sleep before they
happen.  Let me concoct an example for you:

“Top American and European military leaders are weighing options to
step up the fight against the Islamic State in the Mideast, including
possibly sending more U.S. forces into Iraq, Syria, and Libya, just as
Washington confirmed the second American combat casualty in Iraq in as
many months.”

Oh wait, that was actually the lead sentence in a May 3rd Washington Times piece
by Carlo Muñoz. Honestly, though, it could have been written anytime in
the last few months by just about anyone paying any attention
whatsoever, and it surely will prove reusable in the months to come
(with casualty figures altered, of course). The sad truth is that across
the Greater Middle East and expanding parts of Africa, a similar set of
lines could be written ahead of time about the use of Special
Operations forces, drones, advisers, whatever, as could the sorry
results of making such moves in [add the name of your country of choice

Put another way, in a Washington that seems incapable of doing
anything but worshiping at the temple of the U.S. military, global
policymaking has become a remarkably mindless military-first process of repetition.
It’s as if, as problems built up in your life, you looked in the closet
marked “solutions” and the only thing you could ever see was one
hulking, over-armed soldier, whom you obsessively let loose, causing yet
more damage.

How Much, How Many, How Often, and How Destructively

In Iraq and Syria, it’s been mission creep all the way. The B-52s
barely made it to the battle zone for the first time and were almost
instantaneously in the air, attacking Islamic State militants. U.S.
firebases are built ever closer to the front lines. The number of special ops forces continues to edge up. American weapons flow in (ending up in god knows whose hands). American trainers and advisers follow in ever increasing numbers, and those numbers are repeatedly fiddled with to deemphasize how many of them are actually there. The private contractors begin to arrive in numbers never to be counted. The local forces being trained or retrained have their usual problems in battle. American troops and advisers who were never, never going to be “in combat” or “boots on the ground” themselves now have their boots distinctly on the ground in combat situations. The first American casualties are dribbling in.
Meanwhile, conditions in tottering Iraq and the former nation of Syria
grow ever murkier, more chaotic, and less amenable by the week to any
solution American officials might care for.

And the response to all this in present-day Washington?

You know perfectly well what the sole imaginable response can be: sending in yet more weapons, boots, air power, special ops types,
trainers, advisers, private contractors, drones, and funds to
increasingly chaotic conflict zones across significant swaths of the
planet. Above all, there can be no serious thought, discussion, or
debate about how such a militarized approach to our world might have
contributed to, and continues to contribute to, the very problems it was
meant to solve. Not in our nation’s capital, anyway.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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