Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 18, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

A BIGGER ARMY?....In the LA Times today, Andrew Bacevich writes that George Bush's vision of transforming the Muslim world by military force is plainly a failure. So why do both Democrats and Republicans alike seem to agree that the United States needs a bigger military?

Given the mess in which we currently find ourselves, increasing the number of men and women under arms makes about as much sense as drinking bourbon to treat depression. In the short term, the antidote might make you feel better, but at a cost of masking the underlying problem and allowing it to fester.

....The challenge confronting those aspiring to the presidency, therefore, is to devise an alternative to Bush's failed strategy....Any plausible strategy will prescribe concrete and sustainable policies designed to contain the virulent strain of radicalism currently flourishing in parts of the Islamic world. The alternative to transformation is not surrender but quarantine.

....In that regard, the requirement is not for a bigger Army but for fresh ideas, informed by modesty and a sense of realism. The candidate who can articulate such ideas might well merit respect and popular support. Those who in the absence of serious strategic analysis reflexively posture about the need for more troops deserve only contempt.

I go back and forth on this, but the main caveat I'd add is that although Bacevich is probably right that merely increasing the size of the Army is pointless, it's possible that it would make sense to improve our peacekeeping ability in certain specific ways. This is the main thing missing from all those proposals to increase the end strength of the Army and Marines: some detail about exactly what's going to be increased and how it's going to help us in the future. I haven't seen much of that, but it would tell us a lot about the actual foreign policy visions of the candidates who are proposing the increases. More than most topics, it would force a pretty concrete discussion of America's future role in the world. We ought to have it.

Kevin Drum 1:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (106)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Thomas Barnett's ideas on peace-keeping seem more and more relevant

Posted by: sunship on June 18, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need a bigger army; we need more young people to become Mormon missionaries. Or at least Mitt Romney thinks that's a good idea...

Posted by: Qwerty on June 18, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

There is no bigger waste of taxpayer's money than the U.S. miltary. When one of the Big Four accounting firms tried auditing the Pentagon's books a few years ago, they issued a disclaimer of opinion, basically meaning that the military's bookkeeping was so pathetic as to be unauditable.

The Founding Fathers would be ashamed that we are even having this discussion, although it is more of a monologue than a dialogue, since both political parties fall all over themselves to throw money at the military - thinking it makes them great patriots or something, The beginning of the end of America as a world power is at hand, as we bankrupt ourselves on crap like Star Wars and the Osprey, which are nothing more than welfare for big corporate contractors. We need a bigger military like a fish needs a bicycle.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 18, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Couldn't this be taken as a slap at Obama's call to increase the size of the military?

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on June 18, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Any plausible strategy will prescribe concrete and sustainable policies designed to contain the virulent strain of radicalism currently flourishing in parts of the Islamic world.

That is a good point. In 2004, Sen. Kerry's proposal was to treat it as a policing problem, analogous to prostitution and organized crime. That was clearly inadequate, and the present Dem candidates don't seem more vigorous. (If the Dem candidates don't seem "vigorous", it's only fair to add that the Rep candidates don't seem "clear".)

Two more themes should be added: (1) how to protect America's fuel supply in time of war; (2) how seriously to address China as a potential military threat: any nation that produces more computers, cars, and miles of fiber-optic cable in a year than the U.S. has a serious chance of soon producing more combat aircraft and naval vessels per year than the U.S. does. In its long history, China has had its expansionary epochs, and this could be one; the necessity for a sensible strategy should at least be discussed.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on June 18, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

We ought to have it.

Well, yes, and we ought to have governmental leaders who have at least a modicum of respect for the law, and business leaders for something besides finance, and citizens for something other than American Idol and ever-larger SUVs.

But in the real world, I just don't see such a discussion progressing much further than a few specialized journals, some blogs, and perhaps an occasional forlorn article in the back pages of the New York Times. It certainly will not penetrate, or affect, our national political discourse, both because it would be dismissed as "wonky" and because our discourse is conducted at approximately a fifth-grade level.

Posted by: bleh on June 18, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

When all is boiled down to essence, we maintain our military montrosity out of habitual fear. The next layer is the unquenchable greed of the M.I.C. .

We as a people haven't accepted the limits on military might and the practicality of its application.

It would seem that these fundamentals need to be recognized before taking on specifics of force structures and policy.

Posted by: RickG on June 18, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever missions a current or future Presidential candidate envisions for the military, "invade and occupy a hostile country" shouldn't be one of them.

Since Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. were chomping at the bit to invade Iraq from January 2001 onward, and knew from 9/11 onward that they would almost surely win the authorization to do so, it would have made sense for them to increase the size of the Army between 9/11/01 and 3/17/03. It still boggles my mind that they didn't.

But we're not going to invade another country anytime soon. So once we withdraw most or all of our troops from Iraq, why will we need a larger military than we had five years ago? What will its potential missions be?

Sure, we'll probably want to be able to do some more Bosnia/Kosovo-type missions, but we can do that with the troops we've got: if we weren't up to our neck in Iraq, we could send troops to Darfur and still have troops left over.

Ditto for defending allies from foreign invasions: few countries have huge armies anyway, and protecting Taiwan from China is the Navy's job.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist (formerly RT) on June 18, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

The US is not a peacekeeper in the world, and has never been one. The US is a warrior nation, bent of enforcing its will with overwhelming force.

Posted by: Brojo on June 18, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I had an email exchange with Dr. Bacevich when I expressed sympathy to him at the loss of his son whilst on active duty in Iraq.

For the record, he held these views *before* his son was killed in action. He himself served in Vietnam.

His subsequent article in the Washington Post regarding the death of his son (and his conversation at the memorial service with John Kerry) was reasoned and balanced.

I found him to be a very honourable and reasoned man, particularly in light of the enormous stress he must be under.

I would pay attention to what he says, simply on the basis that he obviously has such sterling character.

Posted by: Valuethinker on June 18, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Marler, a defender of the not only inadequate but wholly counterproductive slaughter of Iraqi people in order to enhance the political standing of the Republican Party, has no credibility when attacking Kerry, whose notion of policing was at least a step in the direction of sanity. How many tens of thousands of Iraqis would have been murdered if George W. Bush's strategy was half as well thought out as Kerry's?

As to Marler's idiotic questions about "a time of war" the less said the better. The only people at war are the soldiers. We aren't at war. We are an occupying nation.

Posted by: heavy on June 18, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Our political system is broken. Candidates are being held hostages by defense contractors but they need money to run negative ads so something has to give.

Candidates must all want to build more tanks, nore subs, more jets or they will be called a whimp. Congressmen/women must get federal money into their own dists for more airplanes/subs etc or opponents will run endless negative ads against them AND the stupid voters buy it.

Very sad but true of the US political system...will never end.


Posted by: bob on June 18, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

IMHO any country capable of giving two full terms to the likes of George W. Bush can't be trusted with a bigger army. Or any army at all, for that matter. Until we can be reasonably certain the government won't be taken over by lawless fascists, there's no moral case for having large scale armed forces at its disposal.

This may sound radical or (horrors) unpatriotic, but it's really the simple truth. Unless the country can come to grips with the outright national criminality of the past six years, our legitimacy as an international actor lies in tatters.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 18, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRmarler: ...Sen. Kerry's proposal was to treat it as a policing problem, analogous to prostitution and organized crime.

It's interesting to note that recent terrorist plots in the US and the UK (those reported in the press, at any rate) were uncovered and rolled up as a result of policing and intelligence work.

Posted by: JM on June 18, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

The country never came to grips with its outright national criminality after the Viet Nam War, which is a big reason W. Bush was allowed to invade Iraq. In order for nations to confront their criminality for war making, they must lose unconditionally. Our nuclear weapons prevent that.

Posted by: Brojo on June 18, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

This strikes me as a decision for which there is a crying need for dispassionate analysis in the wake of what the Iraq war has taught us. I just don't know where we're going to get any of that.

It certainly seems to me that, for example, the Iraq insurgency was not going to be quelled without many times the deployments we have actually implemented in Iraq. And I can't imagine that the American people would ever support such a massive buildup of the military, least of all when its potential use even in the case of Iraq would have been of questionable purpose anyway.

But a rational analysis would try to envision scenarios that a larger military would be able to handle, but one of its current size wouldn't, in the light of what we've learned in Iraq, and would try to tradeoff expense with benefit. I just don't know what those scenarios might possibly be.

But who do we trust to come up with such an analysis? I haven't the slightest; no one seems to have credibility left here that I know of.

Mostly, the proposed "fixes" for the problem posed by the Iraq war remind me of a joke about a guy who goes to the Doctor.

"Doc, Doc, I don't know what to do. Everytime I do this, my body starts to hurt all over." The man launches into a Crazy Chicken Dance. The Doctor responds, "Well, don't do that."

If the Iraq war has turned into a disaster, then maybe the right fix is, "Don't do that."

Posted by: frankly0 on June 18, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Which event is more likely:

  1. Being struck by lightning
  2. Being killed in the US by a terrorist attack
Here's a hint, we would be better off sending the Air Force to attack clouds.

Only morons think that we need to spend a trillion dollars a year to fight something that kills fewer Americans than lightning. Only morons think we need a bigger military. Those who aren't morons but espouse a bigger military are doing so because they benefit from this claim in some manner.

Posted by: heavy on June 18, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

From the article:

"Yet coexistence should not imply appeasement or passivity. Any plausible strategy will prescribe concrete and sustainable policies designed to contain the virulent strain of radicalism currently flourishing in parts of the Islamic world. The alternative to transformation is not surrender but quarantine."
________________________

I wonder what the author means by "quarantine." He cannot mean removal of all American presence in the Middle East. Given our widespread involvement in business that wouldn't make much sense. Perhaps he means only military presence.

If that is his premise, it certainly doesn't make sense to add any troops. It also reinforces my prediction that, once a Democratic President is in the White House, we'll hear no more from anyone on the Left about increasing the military at all.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 18, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

It is not what you say about the issues, it is what the issues say about you.

Advocating a larger Army is a safe bet for any politician, and especially for a Democrat, becausee it may win some votes from a low-information voter.

It doesn't commit a Democrat in any significant way on the substance of policy. The Republican policy has been to expand the military, primarily by employing very large numbers of supporting contractors. A Democrat can add to the authorized strength of the Army, cut out the private contractors, who serve double-duty as Republican campaign contributors anyway, and still achieve net cuts in the Defense budget.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder on June 18, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

The country never came to grips with its outright national criminality after the Viet Nam War

Yes and no. Vietnam took place in the context of the cold war, a real struggle with a large, credible adversary, against whom strong measures were seen as legitimate. Further, the trauma of the war was such that the army spent years rebuilding, and through the 70's and even into the 80's the country was much less inclined to support large military interventions. I'd submit it was the perceived success of the first Gulf War (not to mention the bloodless intervention in Kosovo) that laid the basis for Dubya's invasion far more than a lack of consequences post-Vietnam.

Nor do I accept the idea that anything less than catastrophic defeat on home soil is a necessary prerequisite for facing the truth. The consequences of the U.S. loss in Iraq will probably be pretty bad, even if we don't get car bombings happening in the U.S. Josh Marshall's idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Bush years will start looking better and better.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 18, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think this comment is priceless:
"Given the mess in which we currently find ourselves, increasing the number of men and women under arms makes about as much sense as drinking bourbon to treat depression."

However, we might find ourselves in a different pickle in a couple of years with a severe recession and in need of pumping federal dollars into the economy and giving some people something to do. Of course public works programs would be better. Just sayin'

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 18, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

A Bigger Army is a philosophical approach which un-does the "Military Transformation" that Rumsfeld (and his buddies) have worked so hard at for the past 30 years.

Of course, the whole point of "Transformation" was to replace large numbers of troops with effective, high-tech gizmos and weapons.

This accomplishes the following:
- Less dead soldiers ( = more public acceptance of aggressive foreign policy).
- More profits for arms manufacturers ( = inflating budgets are directed from troop salaries and benefits, towards manufacturing of war machinery)
- Less political accountability ( = "we don't have half a million troops we'd need to stabilize the country. We successfully invaded with minimal US casualties in two weeks time, just be happy with THAT. mmm-kay?)
- More global chaos ( = more money for any commodities investor - because supplies of commodities, like oil, or gold, or food, are more easily disrupted when there are more failed-states in the world, and there are more failed-states when governments are dismantled, and nothing is rebuilt as factions that previously lived at peace begin to war amongst themselves; Iraq The Model, indeed.)

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 18, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK
I go back and forth on this, but the main caveat I'd add is that although Bacevich is probably right that merely increasing the size of the Army is pointless, it's possible that it would make sense to improve our peacekeeping ability in certain specific ways.

The US military keeps peace, if at all, by the credible threat of application of its power to make war. Insofar as we are discussing the size, composition, or employment of the military, and not the competence and strategy of the State Department or the Chief Executive, then, the "peacekeeping ability" of the US military is precisely its warfighting ability, and we should not try to falsely distinguish one from the other.

There may be things that can be done to improve that ability, though I would suggest that the failures of the past several years of the US ability to keep (or create) peace have not been principally results of the lack of military capacity, but rather of failures of strategy with their origins outside of the size, composition, and structure of the military forces themselves.

This is the main thing missing from all those proposals to increase the end strength of the Army and Marines: some detail about exactly what's going to be increased and how it's going to help us in the future.

Proposals of that type tend to make listener's eyes glaze over, even political pundits that love to get into the detail of social policies. I mean, the books that lay out serious, detailed proposals for military reform or reorganization (e.g., Douglas MacGregor's Breaking the Phalanx) aren't exactly the type of thing pundits (like you) seem to dig their teeth into voluntarily. I'd expect that detailed proposals along those lines from political candidates would be likewise ignored or treated only at the shallowest level by most commentators.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 18, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, we don't need a bigger army -- we need bigger soldiers! Massive, hypertrophied super-soldiers, their muscles straining at the seams in their uniforms, with hands like cured hams and powerful forearms bulging with sinew. Why add a bunch of new soldiers, with all the added costs of salary, training, etc., when we can simply bulk up the soldiers we have....

Posted by: Stefan on June 18, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I can sort of see increasing the number of soldiers as a safety net jobs program for young people.

You'd need to increase the pay and benefits to get more to sign up, though.

Increased spending on hardware - not so much. That is a welfare program for defense companies, not poor youth.

Posted by: Tripp on June 18, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

As Brojo says above, the moral lesson of Vietnam has been forgotten, if indeed it was ever learned. Unfortunately, the military lesson of Vietnam was also forgotten. Hence a military once again woefully unprepared for effective anti-insurgency warfare. Most likely because, as osama implies, there's more profit in snazzy weapons than in well-trained soldiers.

Even those of us that are convinced the invasion of Iraq was a dreadful mistake and/or just plain wrong can agree that if the military had been better prepared for what they faced there would have been a lot less bloodshed all around.

Posted by: thersites on June 18, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Providing jobs to people is a good thing. Providing jobs that trains them to kill other people for scum fuckers like W. Bush and McNamara, not so good.

Posted by: Brojo on June 18, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

I can sort of see increasing the number of soldiers as a safety net jobs program for young people.

From the standpoint of efficiency, the military is really your worst option as a jobs program. Not only do you have to buy all the soldiering stuff for them, but they also (in the event you don't have any wars to send them to) just sit around their barracks. Worse, once they are recruited and equipped, the Bill Kristols of the world get busy thinking up ways to deploy them. By contrast, if you use them for public works projects, you at least get whatever they built afterwards.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 18, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Why give more to the machine of war?

Posted by: Poéthique on June 18, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

jimBOB, you're forgetting the basic fact that:

Trillions of government spending on weapons is FREEDOM. Billions of government spending on infrastructure and other actually useful stuff is SOCIALISM.

Posted by: thersites on June 18, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

marler: In 2004, Sen. Kerry's proposal was to treat it as a policing problem, analogous to prostitution and organized crime. That was clearly inadequate


really?

in 2004....the white house called kerry's proposal to get 40k more troops...

"dangerous"..

seems they have flip flopped...

and it wasn't because the bush strategery was working...

was it?

Posted by: mr. irony on June 18, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK


heavy: Which event is more likely: 1. Being struck by lightning 2. Being killed in the US by a terrorist attack


the guy who is responsible for protecting al qeuda's top target agrees with you.


"You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist." - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg 6/5/07

Posted by: mr. irony on June 18, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

I could see having a larger number of troops, but only at the expense of Lockheed and the other welfare corporations building the ridiculous joint strike fighter and so forth. I figure if you have a military you might as well use it to prevent things like Darfur.

Posted by: Russell on June 18, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

In 2004, Sen. Kerry's proposal was to treat it as a policing problem, analogous to prostitution and organized crime. That was clearly inadequate

You know, I don't understand the right-wing desire to glorify and magnify al Qaeda. To Democrats, terrorists are common criminals, best dealt with by the police like the petty thugs they are. To Republicans, terrorists are soldiers in a cause, holy warriors who are powerful enough to pose an existential threat to our civilization.

Which of the two views romanticizes al Qaeda more? Which of them is how al Qaeda actually wants to see itself?

Posted by: Stefan on June 18, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Criminals, man, the military they're all such criminals man.

You put on the uniform you trade it in for a jumpsuit colored orange and with numbers on it when we get the trials going and the people united behind the plan we'll make a mighty noise and shake the foundations.

For a long time I have said that Bush's AmeriKKKa wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the complicity of the war machine and that sound ya hear? Screaming into the night? The wailing over the sound of marching boots--that's your freedom going the way of the dinosaur, ya'll.

And I think the police are in on it too but that's me.

Posted by: One toke over the lime on June 18, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

the guy who is responsible for protecting al qeuda's top target agrees with you.


And to whose advice would you have us listen? The guy who put the command center for emergencies like 9/11 in the World Trade Center? The guy who has killed thousands of our soldiers in an attempt to ensure a permanent Republican majority? The guy who walked around Baghdad with an entire army and subsequently declared it safe?

The reason Bloomberg said what he did is that, unlike the pronouncements of idiots like Bush, it represents the world in a rational manner. Even if a WTC event happened every month you would still be twice as likely to die in a car accident. How much money should we spend annually in our war against GM/Ford/Chevrolet?

Posted by: heavy on June 18, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

If al Qaeda are holy warriors, then their enemies are the Holy Christian Soldiers. What would rather be, a Crusader or a homicide cop?

Posted by: thersites on June 18, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

I read that article this morning. Looks to me like the man is scribbling furiously to avoid realising his complicity in his son's death and his participation in war crimes.
He'll go off the deep end if he doesn't somehow realise his responsibility.
The poor schmuck.

He's a schlemiel and his son, the schlamazel.

And frankly, any man who doesn't realise that any plan promulgated by Bush & Co. is bound for gory failure and you get screwed into the bargain, is an idiot.

Posted by: Mooser on June 18, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

You state that Republicans view terrorists as, "soldiers in a cause, holy warriors who are powerful enough to pose an existential threat to our civilization."

I agree with you, and Republicans may indeed think that terrorists are "soldiers in a cause." That is, until the terrorists are captured. Then they are not soldiers or warriors anymore, but "enemy combatants." Thus allowing us to do all kinds of nasty things to them.

Posted by: adlsad on June 18, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

If al Qaeda are holy warriors, then their enemies are the Holy Christian Soldiers. What would rather be, a Crusader or a homicide cop?

Me? A homicide cop. At least I get to live at home, plus there's a lot less shooting....

Posted by: Stefan on June 18, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

--->If al Qaeda are holy warriors, then their enemies are the Holy Christian Soldiers. What would rather be, a Crusader or a homicide cop?

First of all metaphors are beautiful man and they can sing out of your soul but this is all too wigged out and I can't process the meaning back so that it makes sense.

Yer going after al Qaeda like that's a reasonable ideology. Which it is not. They'll take yer freedom and blow it back at you. Nihilists is what they are, nihilists hiding in a backpack full of misplaced religiosity, chewed up like bananas and cheese in a busted blender.

What I'm saying is this--cops are bad, okay? Cops just toss your belongings and they can't be trusted. Al Qaeda, all about killing ya and leaving you with an old lady wearing all manner of cloth and whatnot on her person.

I say the cops are in on what's going down, cooperating with the BUshSpeakin and all that.

Posted by: One toke over the lime on June 18, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

If al Qaeda are holy warriors, then their enemies are the Holy Christian Soldiers. What would rather be, a Crusader or a homicide cop?

Seriously, that's exactly why they frame the debate this war -- rather than that Republicans really see al Qaeda this way, its more due to their own desire to puff themselves up, to cast themselves as fighters in a grand cause.

We're all being sacrificed to their faux-macho playacting, their pathetic, childish desire to overcome their feelings of impotence and inadequacy.

Posted by: Stefan on June 18, 2007 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I was thinking about the geopolitical future of the country and talking to a customer about the Chinese, man. Industrious fellows, but they want to take over the world and make ya'll live in a shack and wear quilted clothes. That don't fly for me. Tending bar, I prefer a little t-shirt action. China wants to be the next bad guy on the block. Nobody respects the quiet guy who don't go to the neighborhood shindigs. They respect the guy who throws open his garage and grills and chills the drinks. We, the AmeriKKKans have been hosting this party long enough and now, Mr. Wang wants to open his garage door, put on sandals with socks, push back his Birth-Control inducing glasses and have the hotties come down to check out his velvet Elvis painting on the garage wall.

Yo, my t-shirts are made in China! Check it out. I wear TWO t-shirts because you can spill stuff on yourself and then, whoa, what's up with that apron? I'm not wearing no apron. But that's made in Taiwan. I think my t-shirt could kick the apron's ass, but my money is on my jeans, which are Levi's made in Mexico or something like that.

Ever notice the cops are part of the industrial homeland defense security apparatus? Think that's an accident? I sure don't.

Posted by: One toke over the lime on June 18, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm in favor of the administration's apparent current policy as regards the military - destroy it altogether.

Posted by: semper fubar on June 18, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ever notice the cops are part of the industrial homeland defense security apparatus? Think that's an accident? I sure don't.

Posted by: One toke over the lime

Goodness. Kevin Dumbo™ is really attracting the most erudite and thoughtful commenters these days. Let me guess, sir--you tend bar and mix drinks and then stagger over to a stolen laptop and pound out inane comments on what you think is a Phish-oriented comment board of some stripe?

Try not to fall down and vomit all over yourself when the chemicals you ingest become too much for your delicate system to handle. I am offended that my tax dollars subsidize your pharmaceutical experimentations.

Leave the political comments to the professionals, son. You're just making a fool of yourself.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 18, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

The United States, thanks to politicians of both political party pandering to the defense industry, has become the Frankenstein's monster of the modern world. Big and powerful, but incredibly stupid and wasteful. We spend more on our military machine than the rest of the world combined.

Had we used our brains instead of our brawn, the correct responses to the attacks of September 11th would should have been:
(1) A crash program to become energy-independent, thereby making the Arab countries of the Middle East irrelevant.
(2) Fully funding the Nunn-Lugar Initiative, to take fissionable material off the field of play and out of the hands of terrorists, and
(3) A coordinated international police effort to bring bin Laden and Zawahiri to justice and make them stand trial for their crimes.

Instead, we did none of these things and, like Frankenstein's monster, we went charging in a mad rage headlong into a Muslim country that had nothing to do with 9-11 and pissed off one billion Muslims, slaughtering thousands of innocent people and ensuring that an even more hideous terrorist attack would be perpetrated against us in the future.

If you recall the story of Frankenstein, it isn't a very happy ending that awaits the monster.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 18, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

At Washington State Ferry Terminals, policeman patrol the lines of waiting cars, looking into each car's passenger compartment as they walk up the line to make sure nobody is masturbating, and/or having sex!
Hard to believe, but true. I see it every day.
They've given up looking for bombs, and they're gonna catch them some preverts!

Posted by: Mooser on June 18, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

It's interesting to note that recent terrorist plots in the US and the UK (those reported in the press, at any rate) were uncovered and rolled up as a result of policing and intelligence work.

I still say we should have invaded the UK. They've got weapons of mass destruction, they have a history of invading their neighbors, and now they're harboring al Qaeda terrorists....

Posted by: Stefan on June 18, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

heavy: And to whose advice would you have us listen?


fyi...

i was supporting your argument...

Posted by: mr. irony on June 18, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry about the confusion.

Posted by: heavy on June 18, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I still say we should have invaded the UK. They've got weapons of mass destruction, they have a history of invading their neighbors, and now they're harboring al Qaeda terrorists....

Plus they've got a wide selection of fine beers and ales. And those incredibly neat hedgerows all over the countryside.

Posted by: JM on June 18, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

So, how is it that statements from a couple presidential candidates constitute "the Democrats ... alike seem to agree that we need a bigger military"? What these candidates say will probably fail to get them elected in any event. Democrats, can we get our act together? Adults, please think about specifics?

Posted by: Lysander on June 18, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm....last time I checked the purpose of having a standing army was to DEFEND the United States, not to attack other countries. There's a reason it's called the Department of Defense, not the Department of War (as was up until 1947). Truth be told, the last time US territory was attacked by a soveriegn nation was when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. As much as we want to stop any future terrorists from attacking us, it's pretty clear by now that the army is not the appropriate tool to accomplish that goal, especially since it cannot legally be deployed inside the US.

Posted by: mfw13 on June 18, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

--->Leave the political comments to the professionals, son. You're just making a fool of yourself.

Totalitarianism is a righteous buzzkill, dude, and I am immune to your insults. Phish is a crispy band, but they're defunct. I'm not interested in Trey's solo stuff--pretty lame if you ask me and I'm in a band of my own. If I attend places where live music is played, I'm partial to the people who rock their asses off wigged out and hopefully they play stuff you can dance to.

No way to a bigger Army. We should disband Rotc and we should reduce the Army to about 50,000 or so, just enough for the War Party to invade small island nations and not much else. End the fascist regime and make the cops toe the line. Sick of cops thinking they are soldiers.

Posted by: One toke over the lime on June 18, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

There's a reason it's called the Department of Defense, not the Department of War
Yes, there is:
war is peace
freedom is slavery
ignorance is strength


oh, and thanks for the warning, mooser!

Posted by: thersites on June 18, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

"To Democrats, terrorists are common criminals, best dealt with by the police like the petty thugs they are."
_________________________

What sort of police would we send. There are plenty of countries where it would not be advisable to send cops to arrest anyone. They would not live long enough to serve a warrant.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 18, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

What sort of police arrested the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Weathermen, the Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Red Army?

Posted by: Brojo on June 18, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Don't really matter none that it hang left or right, the thing is that it's bigger.

Posted by: Viagra on June 18, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

What sort of police would we send. There are plenty of countries where it would not be advisable to send cops to arrest anyone. They would not live long enough to serve a warrant.

Right, so the obvious solution is to invade nations where the terrorists are not hiding and murder the government officials. When this leads to a safe haven for terrorists, suggest that we need a bigger military because of the great terrorist threat.

Why should anyone with such a stupid plan be taken seriously?

Posted by: heavy on June 18, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

At Washington State Ferry Terminals, policeman patrol the lines of waiting cars, looking into each car's passenger compartment as they walk up the line to make sure nobody is masturbating, and/or having sex! Hard to believe, but true. I see it every day. They've given up looking for bombs, and they're gonna catch them some preverts! Posted by: Mooser

Laugh all you want. But late at night waiting in Bremerton for the return to Seattle? Beats (pun intended) reading a paperback by dome light.

Trooper gets eyeful from nude couple in I-90 stop

By Jennifer Sullivan

Seattle Times staff reporter

Even behavior that's clearly the exact opposite of road rage can land you in hot water.

A man and woman learned that last Friday when a trooper pulled over their SUV after he saw it drifting across Interstate 90 in Bellevue.

When he walked up to the car at 1:20 a.m., the trooper was greeted by the naked couple trying to stash an empty wine bottle, according to the State Patrol.

The 20-year-old woman in the passenger seat quickly grabbed a T-shirt to cover up, but the 19-year-old man behind the wheel didn't flinch, said State Patrol spokesman Jeff Merrill.

The legal drinking age in this state is 21.

The trooper asked the couple to get dressed, and both took a sobriety test. The driver had a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 percent, and was cited for drunken driving as a minor, the State Patrol said. Youths under 21 can be cited for drunken driving if their breath-alcohol level is more than 0.02 percent, Merrill said.

The driver was also cited for embracing while driving, a misdemeanor.

Merrill said it appears the couple were engaging in some sort of "physical act."

"There were some acts of physical intimacy going on in the vehicle that were best saved for not driving down the freeway," Merrill said.

The woman was cited for being a minor in possession of alcohol.

The two were taken to the Mercer Island Police Department, where a friend picked them up. Their vehicle was impounded, Merrill said.

"We harp on the fact that being impaired is so dangerous, but being distracted is equally as dangerous," Merrill said. "I can't think of anything more distracting than this."

Posted by: JeffII on June 18, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

trash: They would not live long enough to serve a warrant.


what are you worried about...

no one was suggesting you...

Posted by: mr. irony on June 18, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Pretty cool, really- the year that the US embarked on a murderous rampage of overthrowing democratic governments and protecting dictators was the same year the Department of War became the Department of Defense.

Now we're deep in the doo-doo since the Iranians used Chalabi to trick Bush into invading iraq and deposing their hated enemy Saddam. Classic jujitsu- use the strength and mindless rush of the enemy to flip him on his back. We are so doomed.

Say we really wanted to improve our peacekeeping ability. Well, call this a wild crazy idea, but maybe we could start by not loaning people money to buy weapons systems.

And here's something we've never really tried- providing aid for peaceful purposes related to the needs of the country that needs the aid.

Increasing the size of the military is like making ethanol so we can keep driving more and more. And they wonder why I couldn't bring myself to vote for Gore-Lieberman.

Didja ever think that, maybe Gore had won in addition to being elected, and then he turned down the idea to invade Iraq, and then he got shot, like Kennedy was after he stopped the Bay of Pigs, and then Lieberman would be Prez now.

Yeah, like that could never have happened.

Kevin's right about one thing- we need a serious discussion.

Posted by: serial catowner on June 18, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: You know, I don't understand the right-wing desire to glorify and magnify al Qaeda. To Democrats, terrorists are common criminals, best dealt with by the police like the petty thugs they are. To Republicans, terrorists are soldiers in a cause, holy warriors who are powerful enough to pose an existential threat to our civilization.

Which of the two views romanticizes al Qaeda more? Which of them is how al Qaeda actually wants to see itself?

from the source Any plausible strategy will prescribe concrete and sustainable policies designed to contain the virulent strain of radicalism currently flourishing in parts of the Islamic world.

Any plausible strategy has to avoid the extremes that you cited, and perhaps combine the best of both views. The members of the [virulent strain of Islamic radicalism] are more dangerous than organized crime, but less formal than a state-run army. That's why the Bush Administration refers to them as "unlawful enemy combatants". Admittedly, some were not "combatants", but most were more dangerous than mafiosi, and not regularized like a uniformed army.

does somebody on the American right "glorify" al Qaeda? Hamas and the Taleban might "glorify" al Qaeda, but I don't think any American right-wingers do.

JM: It's interesting to note that recent terrorist plots in the US and the UK (those reported in the press, at any rate) were uncovered and rolled up as a result of policing and intelligence work.

Yes it is interesting and informative. You stop short of saying that it shows Kerry was correct. Some of the successes in Britain have been due to information collected in Afghanistan, collected by military action. I don't "believe" that Kerry was correct, but another "interesting" fact was that 911 resulted in part from defective police work, namely that the FBI and CIA did not pursue the information that they had. It's possible that, with respect to the [virulent strain of Islamic radicalism], police work would be sufficient to protect the US and EU. But it looks like more will be necessary in the Phillipines and Afghanistan.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on June 18, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

To clarify: an international police effort always needs tough-love diplomacy and special forces back-up whenever you deal with a government that does not follow international law or is incapable of doing so.

This is the same reason the cops patrolling your neighborhood can call in swat teams and negotiators when they are required. What you do NOT do is let the SWAT team go on point . That is not their function. In any event, they kill people needlessly, tear up the neighborhood, and breed resentment among the locals.

Internationally, the various thugs and fanatics running some of the other countries will use your military actions as an excuse to promote their own. So you use the soldiers only when you absolutely have to.

Posted by: Berken on June 18, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

--->To clarify: an international police effort always needs tough-love diplomacy and special forces back-up whenever you deal with a government that does not follow international law or is incapable of doing so.

International police? Nah. We need fewer police. Cops only create more crime by LOOKING into cars for things people are going to do anyway. Who gets hurt when two people--two consenting adults--pleasure themselves? Aint a damned thing wrong with it. Unless they're fat and nobody wants to see that. No way.

Posted by: One toke over the lime on June 18, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Now we're deep in the doo-doo since the Iranians used Chalabi to trick Bush into invading iraq and deposing their hated enemy Saddam. Posted by: serial catowner

Chalabi didn't "trick" anyone in the Bush administration into invading Iraq. The plan was nearly ten years old, drawn up by Wolfowitz following the Gulf War. The CIA and everyone else in the intelligence community knew Chalabi was full of shit. He was used to sell to congress and anyone else stupid enough to believe the whole pack of lies.

Posted by: JeffII on June 18, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

That's why the Bush Administration refers to them as "unlawful enemy combatants". Admittedly, some were not "combatants", but most were more dangerous than mafiosi, and not regularized like a uniformed army.

Most of the people at Gitmo are not al Qaeda, but Taliban or nobodies. Most of al Qaeda in Afghanistan probably escaped to Pakistan as drew down our force in Afghanist, shifted our attentions, and we started poking the pooch in Iraq.

The Taliban, whether we liked them or not, were the legitimate government of Afghanistan at the time we attacked. Therefore, they were not "unlawful" combatants. Nor was anyone who volunteered to fight with them. By the Bush administrations standards, a foreign national who enlisted in the U.S. military and was capture by an American enemy would also be an unlawful combatant. Wearing a uniform has fuck all to do with it. The Bush administration sounds like the British bitching about American "irregulars" during our war of independence - No fair. They weren't wearing "I'm a target from a mile away" red and weren't stupid enough to march in a straight line towards certain death!

does somebody on the American right "glorify" al Qaeda? Hamas and the Taleban might "glorify" al Qaeda, but I don't think any American right-wingers do.Posted by: MatthewRmarler

Of course you idiots do by making them 60' tall bogey men. You've puffed them up to be a world threat on the scale of the Soviet Union's Cold War nuclear arsenal.

What makes al Qaeda or any irregular force so threatening is that they don't "follow the rules." However, using a land army to go after them, regardless of how large and how sophisticated its organization, will not work. This is where the idea of international "police work" comes in. You don't undermine terror cells with aircraft carriers, Stryker brigades or M-1a battle tanks.Now you might have people on the ground call in a drone for a strike. But cluster bombs or even cruise missiles? Hardly.

Posted by: JeffII on June 18, 2007 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

the Air Force wants a more secure fuel supply:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/18/business/18biofuels.html?ex=1339819200&en=15d7b3f3741c7403&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on June 18, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Marler, once again re-writing history to obscure the Republican hands on 9/11, attempts to pin the problem on defective police work. The fact is that the current plan of bombing innocent Iraqis has no beneficial effect on terrorism. The fact is that the tens-of-thousands (if not hundreds) of dead Iraqis will not be forgotten by the people who live in the region soon. A foreign policy that works by murdering innocents is not a foreign policy that deters terrorism. It is one that engenders terrorism.

All of which ignores the simple fact that only the simplest of minds fears terror to the tune of a billion dollars a week. Americans could be made far safer by spending that same money on schools at home. You know, so people know not to vote for the kinds of morons who will use the US military to invade nations that are not a national security threat.

Posted by: heavy on June 18, 2007 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0
This strikes me as a decision for which there is a crying need for dispassionate analysis in the wake of what the Iraq war has taught us. I just don't know where we're going to get any of that.

It ain't over yet, and so any lessons to be learned are in flux.

heavy
A foreign policy that works by murdering innocents is not a foreign policy that deters terrorism. It is one that engenders terrorism.

What was it about the previous President's policies that engendered terrorism?

Posted by: voices in my head on June 18, 2007 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Are you really so clueless as to think that I believe the Democrats are without flaw? But comparing Clinton's flaws (is there a reason you can't limit the discussion to the massive fucking disaster we are experiencing as a result of Bush?) to Bush's is like comparing someone who is a bit withdrawn to someone doing target practice on his fellow human beings from a clock tower.

What did Bush do to prevent 9/11?

Posted by: heavy on June 18, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's intervention in the Middle East, as well as Clinton's intervention, were failures. But this does not mean that a bigger military is not necessary.

Peace is achieved through strength combined with nonintervention. Many neoconservatives believe that strength combined with intervention works; many liberals believe that destroying the military budget and not intervening works. But what has worked throughout history is a strong military combined with a non-interventionist foreign policy. Such a combination gives enemies little reason to attack the U.S., but every reason to fear the U.S.

The world is mainly guided by two groups of people in every country: expansionists, and those who only wish to defend their country. If the U.S. intervenes everywhere, both groups turn against her. If the U.S. cuts her military, she tempts the expansionists with her weakness.

Remember, the neocons are not the only ones in the world who want to wage foolish wars. There are irrational people in every country, and there will be enemies that will be irreconcilable. The U.S. must be strong in order to swiftly defeat them and save American lives in the long run.

The lack of U.S. military strength invited Britain to infringe on U.S. seafaring rights, which led to the War of 1812. When Germany began sinking American ships in the lead up to the First World War, the U.S. Army was smaller than Portugal's. When Japan hedged their bets and attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military was in a weakened state, thanks to 1920's Republicans who faced no serious international threat as well as 1930's Democrats who failed to arm the U.S. when other nations, such as Germany and Japan, were rearming.

Nonintervention is one essential pillar of peace, but military strength is another. The U.S. must not only repair the damage done to her military in the Iraq War, but build an even stronger next generation military.

Posted by: brian on June 18, 2007 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

There are those who say that Al Qaeda's status as an irregular force means that conventional force cannot be used, but it can and must be used. It is true that the U.S. must tragically kill more civilians than in a war against a nation state, as the enemy does not war uniforms. It is also true the U.S. may have to raze and destroy more infrastructure to starve Al Qaeda of support. But Al Qaeda expanded the war into these dark regions; the U.S. did not. America's leaders must put the lives of her soldiers and people ahead of public opinion polls and do what is necessary to destroy the enemy.

There is an argument that this will create more terrorists. But what the U.S. faces, as Michael Scheuer wrote, is not a choice between war and peace, but war and endless war. If the U.S. stays involved in the Middle East, and supports Israel (an issue that both many Republicans and many Democrats cowardly pander to AIPAC on), she will have to wage endless war on the Muslim world. If the U.S. ends these unnecessary entanglements, then the War on Terror will likely last until Al Qaeda's forces are destroyed at a rate much faster than recruiting. Both a more aggressive war against the terrorists, as well as an end to unnecessary intervention, will achieve this.

It is true that aggressive war may create terrorists. It is also true, however, that limited war helps Al Qaeda too by making it easier for terrorists to survive. The best the U.S. can do is end unnecessary entanglements and wage total, conventional war against Al Qaeda. This is not a perfect solution; but it is the best solution, and better than the current solution offered by both Republicans and Democrats: endless intervention in the Middle East combined with a limited military response. That remedy is a prescription for suicide.

Posted by: brian on June 19, 2007 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

heavy: All of which ignores the simple fact that only the simplest of minds fears terror to the tune of a billion dollars a week. Americans could be made far safer by spending that same money on schools at home.

I favor shifting some military spending to developing more domestic fuel supplies, renewable and from coal and nuclear. I think that an America with a secure fuel supply is much less likely in future to go to war over oil. After some time spent developing more domestic fuel supplies (10 years, as proposed by the Apollo
Alliance), I favor withdrawing all permanent bases, including the bases in Bahrain, from the Middle East entirely. {well, obviously Bahrain stays there, and the ground the base is built on, but the equipment all comes home.)

I proposed above that a secure domestic fuel supply in time of war ought to be the first consideration in a new re-analysis of American military policy, and I noted the Air Force plan with that in mind. The Navy and Army are doing the same.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on June 19, 2007 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

"I could see having a larger number of troops, but only at the expense of Lockheed and the other welfare corporations building the ridiculous joint strike fighter and so forth."
_________________

What is ridiculous about the joint strike fighter?

Posted by: trashhauler on June 19, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

What is ridiculous about the joint strike fighter?

Posted by: trashhauler on June 19, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Because its hugely balooning costs have led to the Air Force, Navy and Marines, and the foreign participants reducing orders so, one assumes, buying less than they previously told their respective purchasing boards that they would need.

The knock on from this is that unit costs are forced higher still and budget cuts spread to other purchasing that the respective forces also said that they needed.

Personally I come down on smaller forces but we don't need smaller and more expensive forces when we can already thrash any major power, or combination of major powers should we need to.

Present commander-in-chief excepted, of course.

Posted by: nottthere on June 19, 2007 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

trashhauler: What is ridiculous about the joint strike fighter?

The price tag.

Posted by: has407 on June 19, 2007 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

brian: "The lack of U.S. military strength invited Britain to infringe on U.S. seafaring rights, which led to the War of 1812."

The total population of the United States in 1812 was about 6 million; Britain at 25 million was by far the larger nation, and had a 600-ship navy. What exactly did you expect the Americans to do?

The agrarian-based American economy could never have raised or maintained the type of large military to compete with the major European powers of the era.

Further, French warships had earlier also committed serious depredations upon U.S. shipping, and the U.S. fought an undeclared naval war with France over the issue in 1797-99. French naval aggression ceased only when the British drove them from the seas after the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar.

By 1812, Great Britain had in fact agreed to repeal its oneous policy of naval impressment. Most Americans were seduced into the War of 1812 by what looked to be Napoleon's imminent victory in Europe, and hoped to conquer Canada while British attention was understandably diverted someplace else. History records that events didn't quite work out that way.

"When Germany began sinking American ships in the lead up to the First World War, the U.S. Army was smaller than Portugal's."

You neglected to mention that Portugal was also a full-fledged Allied combatant in the First World War, which accounts for its full mobilization. Further, the U.S. Navy was after Britain's Royal Navy the the largest naval force in the world, the German High Seas Fleet having been effectively blockaded after the 1916 Battle of Jutland.

"When Japan hedged their bets and attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military was in a weakened state, thanks to 1920's Republicans who faced no serious international threat as well as 1930's Democrats who failed to arm the U.S. when other nations, such as Germany and Japan, were rearming."

By December 1941 the United States had been pursuing an aggressive rearmament campaign since late 1940, and has already re-introduced the military draft earlier in the year. That's why we were able to mobilize and deploy relatively quickly once war was finally declared. We were far less impotent militarily than your post would otherwise lead readers to believe.

If you're going to use historical references to create your analogies, at least try to be accurate.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii -- B.A., U.S. History on June 19, 2007 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

mr. irony wrote:

trash: They would not live long enough to serve a warrant.


what are you worried about...

no one was suggesting you...
________________________

I wasn't worried, irony. I'm rather past my time when I might have been sent into harm's way, just as I suppose it won't be you who is sent to bring them in. I was just questioning how anyone thought that terrorists overseas could be tracked down and taken into custody solely by police efforts, preferrably before they blew up an embassy or sank a Navy vessel or smuggled something nasty into the US.

In many countries, police would be the logical choice, in others not so much.

My family has twice come close to being the victims of terrorists, although not the current batch. In the early 80s, a German terrorist car bomb blew up in front of the USAFE headquarters building where I worked. It wrecked the place. My desk was pushed halfway through the wall. I was lucky enough to have gone to fly that morning and the thing went off as I was on the flightline walking toward my aircraft. The blast made quite a shock wave and a very pretty cloud of smoke and debris. A few months later, a luckily defective bomb was found in a wall fire extinguisher next to the check-in desk at the day care center where we often took my daughter.

Such attacks were rightly investigated by the German police, though I don't remember if they ever caught the exact terrorists who performed those acts. But I've been in several other countries where the local governments couldn't be so trusted or would be unable to protect our police even if they were willing to let them in. Any place where terrorists have achieved a quasi-military status is no place to send the FBI.

So, when people say that the Islamic jihadist terrorists should be handled by police efforts, it's natural to ask how they think that can be done.


Posted by: trashhauler on June 19, 2007 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

It amazes me that after the lessons of the immediate previous years and all military-insurgency lessons that there are still those who believe we can win if we don't care about killing (or "starving") innocent members of the society we are "protecting".

It makes my brain want to explode.

When, when has this ever worked?

The only reason the killing of innocents has not yet become as big an item in Iraq as Afghanistan is that Maliki & co. are under the US thumb and protection more than Kasai, who knows he has to be seen to be protecting innocents across his country and showing some independence form NATO.

Same policy has sure worked the last 40 years for Israel! Christ, if the UK had treated the Catholics like this they'd still have 40,000 troops there.

The latest in Afghanistan, where they called in aircraft in the night, was that a large number of the casualties were from those sleeping on the roof as they are wont to do in the summer. No a-c and all that. I'm sure they were all showing on the IR imaging.

Wake up, ninnies. Ultimately force is not the answer. And calling in aircraft anytime there is anything like a strongpoint and treating non-insurgent casualties as acceptable collateral damage is not going to wash with all their brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, mothers, uncles in a country where they have blood feud.

Posted by: notthere on June 19, 2007 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

notthere wrote:

"Personally I come down on smaller forces but we don't need smaller and more expensive forces when we can already thrash any major power, or combination of major powers should we need to."
____________________

Well, without comment on the price, there isn't anything ridiculous about the JSF. It's going to be a very capable aircraft and will be still flying two decades from now when most of our current fighters will be long defunct. A new aircraft always faces the issue of unit cost and things aren't going to be any cheaper in the future. Having outlived at least three aircraft I used to fly operationally, I suspect the young men and women who fly the JSF in 2025 will be wondering what its replacement is going to look like.

And like I've said before, military power can evaporate surprisingly quickly. In 1945, we could take on the entire world militarily, only to be humbled by a fourth rate army only four years later. That lesson still tends to make people cautious.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 19, 2007 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

trashhauler, it's not about the aircrafts capability, they'll engineer it to meet requirements. The contractor doesn't care when it's cost plus contract and no penalties.

The point is that US and other forces will have fewer aircraft than they originally planned for AND will have compromised possibly this weapon system, almost certainly others and the quantity they had planned for.

This leads to a compromised force without the balance originally planned for.

As to Korea, you might remember that the US was also taken by surprise in 1941. Korea ended up a compromised victory. 50 years later half the country is hugely prosperous and pro-West, and the top half are as poor as mice and trying to escape a brutal existence.

It wasn't a question of military power; the US was then as now the premier world military power.

You have a slightly warped or illconsidered perspective.

Posted by: nothere on June 19, 2007 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

notthere wrote:

"Ultimately force is not the answer. And calling in aircraft anytime there is anything like a strongpoint and treating non-insurgent casualties as acceptable collateral damage is not going to wash with all their brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, mothers, uncles in a country where they have blood feud."
________________________

notthere, can you provide a cite about this latest incident in Afghanistan? I haven't seen it yet, as I've been too busy to keep up with the Early Bird recently.

For the reason you mention, I also fear our long time exposure in Afghanistan. Given the topography, there is no way we can secure the whole place with ground troops. As long as we are there, we have no choice but to support our troops with airpower and to hit what we think are Taliban concentrations. Unfortunately, we can neither abandon the place, nor rely upon police to secure it.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 19, 2007 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

notthere wrote:

"You have a slightly warped or illconsidered perspective."
________________________

Yep, I've been accused of it often enough, that's for sure. Probably true.

As for Korea, at the time people were wondering why we were fighting to support an obviously corrupt and tyrannical government and not succeeding too well at it. The recall of reservists who had already done their bit during WWII was particularly galling to many. Critics noted that we never had enough troops in Korea for the job at hand. When the war entered stalemate, our side of the main line of resistance (MLR) was wafer thin compared to the defense in depth on the Chinese/North Korean side. Back then, as much as today, we relied upon technology to make up the difference in mass. I guess the biggest difference was that the side kicking the President in the slats at the time did not intend to simply abandon the Koreans. Well, history never repeats exactly, I suppose.

Part of the difficulty with advanced weapons system today is that they have to last so long. We no longer have the industrial base to let our weapons system acquisitions to slide for a couple of decades. Hideously expensive or not, we can't wait until we need them to start building them.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 19, 2007 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

Marler, your suggestions might have some merit if we weren't pouring money down the rat-hole you have consistently supported on this board - right down to defending the idiotic and long-discredited notion that Saddam Hussein was ever a threat to our national security. All the evidence is in, there was nothing there except a plan by the Republicans to use the slaughter of innocent Iraqis to bolster the RNC's chances of electoral victory. Attempting to change the subject because you know you can't win on national security doesn't work. It has long been obvious your concerns are more with electing Republicans than defending this nation.

Brian, you are an idiot and never does it show more than when you flaunt your inability to understand military issues. It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to type a list of non sequiturs and remind everyone why they laugh when you post.

Trashhauler, get over it. Terrorism isn't a real threat and the Iraqis were fucked the moment George W. Bush decided that they were fodder for his re-election campaign. The plural of anecdote is not data and your personal experiences are obviously not shared by most Americans. And by most I mean nearly all. Even if we count the attacks by right-wing terrorists there have been fewer than 5,000 Americans killed in terrorist attacks inside the United States in the past two decades. In that same period a million have died in car accidents. Learn something about statistics. If you do you will want less of your tax money wasted on welfare for the "masters of war."

Posted by: heavy on June 19, 2007 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

trashhauler: Well, without comment on the price, there isn't anything ridiculous about the JSF.

Cop out.

It's going to be a very capable aircraft and will be still flying two decades from now when most of our current fighters will be long defunct.

Sure it's sexy and hot. As one would expect from the latest technology. And damn if I wouldn't trade a lifetime in a Ferrari for a few hours in one.

But that's irrelevant. Any modern aircraft produced today will (or should) be flying two decades from now, assuming it hasn't worn out. Which is easily remedied by building new ones, or upgrading existing designs. You think the block-60 F-16's are chopped liver?

The relevant question is not the age of the airframe, but the age of design; specifically, the the threat those designs will face over their life. By that measure, we'd be better off investing in upgraded F-15's and F-16's.

Posted by: has407 on June 19, 2007 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

June 15th, Taliban fail to lauch offensive, general says

June 18th, 3 days of fierce fighting leaves...

This last one, the last 4 paragraphs cover the civilians killed and wounded after bombing. Can't find the quote from tribal elder about sleeping on roofs, but I cover so many papers over the weekend. Thought it was the London Times but struck out. Anyway, have read about this habit throughout Middle East so, if it was a warm night, seems likely.

Posted by: notthere on June 19, 2007 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

Oh... and maybe the FA/18 Super (*cough*) Hornet. As overpriced POS that they are, they're what we've got. Apologies to the Navy, but God forbid we get another "joint"--as in knee jerk--replacement.

Posted by: has407 on June 19, 2007 at 4:02 AM | PERMALINK

trashhauler, above and below for you. Goodnight.

Had to split my post. They don't like 3 links at one time.

Casualties

I think the Joint Fighter is planned for 35+ years operational!

Also, although things were not hunky dory on our side of the wire, I believe the Koreans and Chinese were having some trouble supplying their troops with basics, let alone for another offensive.

Coldly, on balance there was no need for NATO to loose any more people and there was no justification for going nuclear. Soon enough N. Korea will fall apart and they are the people who have born the cost in life and health these last 50 years, even if a large number of US troops have had to spend time on the DMZ.

Posted by: notthere on June 19, 2007 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

notthere wrote:

"Soon enough N. Korea will fall apart...."
______________________

From your fingers to God's eyes.

Thanks for that last link.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 19, 2007 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

heavy wrote:

"Terrorism isn't a real threat and the Iraqis were fucked the moment George W. Bush decided that they were fodder for his re-election campaign. The plural of anecdote is not data and your personal experiences are obviously not shared by most Americans."
______________________

Well, terrorism is a real threat. It's just a matter of debate about how serious it is.

Giving my own experience with terrorism wasn't an argument that the war on terror is required. In fact, I used it as an example of when terrorism should be countered with police work. But there are plenty of countries where that approach won't work. One suspects that those who favor police action would, if pressed, largely ignore those countries where police techniques will not work. That's a legitimate choice. Whether it is the correct choice is, again, a matter of debate.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 19, 2007 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

You know it's easy to say "make the military bigger" but who's going to fill the ranks? I don't see any volunteers around here or other blogs liberal or conservative. Unless you want a military filled with the dregs of society who can't operate sophisticated equipment, you better have a draft handy.

And when you do announce your draft for "peacekeeping purposes" I bet the reaction will be quite a hoot.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 19, 2007 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

When it comes right down to it, after the kids get their chance to throw insults and crap around, there really isn't much interest in the size of the US military - just so long as they get out of Iraq.

No matter who the next Administration is, the US military is likely to be less capable than it is now. That's a good thing for those who see the US as the root of all evil and a bad thing for anyone who might look to us for help.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 19, 2007 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK
No matter who the next Administration is, the US military is likely to be less capable than it is now.

Well, yes, the current operations, particularly Iraq, have put military capacity on a declining trend, which will continue at least until the end of the kind of operations we are now engaged in in Iraq, that's been well attested to. And, yes, there is little prospect of change in that before the end of this administration, so certainly the next one will inherit a military less capable than the current one, and far less capable than the one this administration inherited from its predecessor.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 19, 2007 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

"You know it's easy to say "make the military bigger" but who's going to fill the ranks?"
Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 19, 2007 at 10:12 AM

Hmmm. How about extend the volunteer age up to 62 (we'll find lighter assignments for those folks), and throw in 2 years of VA healthcare post-enlistment for each 1 year of enlistment? Of course, that assumes we continue to kick the Universal Healthcare can down the road which will be likely.

Posted by: doc@theradarstation.com on June 19, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Correction. Strike 62 and make that 60 with a 2-year only enlistment option for 60-year olds. Wouldn't want people eligible for reduced Social Security benefits serving.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 19, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Only the simpleminded think that the United States is the root of all evil. Just as only the simpleminded think that there is a significant population who think the United States is the root of all evil.

There is a big difference between recognizing the United States military is a welfare program for the makers of war implements and an attractive nuisance for warmongers like George W. Bush, and thinking the US is the root of all evil. An ax is a tool, but in the hands of a sociopath it is a dangerous weapon.

No one serious about national security would claim that 5000 deaths over two decades represents a threat worthy of a billion dollars a week. No one with a modicum of common sense would invade a sovereign nation that was not a hotbed of terrorism in order to minimize the threat of terror.

Posted by: heavy on June 19, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK


trash: So, when people say that the Islamic jihadist terrorists should be handled by police efforts, it's natural to ask how they think that can be done.


ask someone who works in international policing...

meanwhile...

how is invasion as an answer to terrorism working out?

oh right....

Posted by: mr. irony on June 19, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

trash: I also fear our long time exposure in Afghanistan. ... Unfortunately, we can neither abandon the place, nor rely upon police to secure it.


excellent....

Posted by: military industrial complex on June 19, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK


brian: Bush's intervention in the Middle East, as well as Clinton's intervention, were failures.

fewer americans died by terror at home and abroad under clinton..

bush fixed that...

Posted by: mr. irony on June 19, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

heavy: Attempting to change the subject because you know you can't win on national security doesn't work. It has long been obvious your concerns are more with electing Republicans than defending this nation.

Kevin Drum: This is the main thing missing from all those proposals to increase the end strength of the Army and Marines: some detail about exactly what's going to be increased and how it's going to help us in the future. I haven't seen much of that, but it would tell us a lot about the actual foreign policy visions of the candidates who are proposing the increases. More than most topics, it would force a pretty concrete discussion of America's future role in the world.

The topic for this thread was America's role in the future, and I suggested that such a topic should include provisions for a secure (i.e. domestic) fuel supply. As a swing voter and ticket splitter, I deny that my goal ever has been to elect Republicans.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on June 19, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Deny everything and if convicted allege fraud."

Posted by: G. Gordon Liddy on June 19, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Would you get a breast augmentation surgery

Posted by: Breast Augmentation on December 12, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent site guys! great work!

Posted by: Cosmetic Surgery on December 12, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm hoping to travel soon, any other sites to find good cheap hotels?

Posted by: Cheap Hotel Rates on December 24, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Have the cost of cheap airline tickets come down even further from the gas price decreases?

Posted by: Cheap Airline Tickets on December 30, 2008 at 4:38 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly