September 6, 2013
As U.S. war drums begin beating louder and louder, this time possibly involving a confrontation with Syria, one can only wonder how many military conflicts this nation can undertake at one time. It seems like ever since the first Gulf War (1990-1991), which was in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, we have been perpetually at war. It was only several months ago that America talked of conducting some sort of military mission against both North Korea and Iran. Granted, the atrocities being carried out by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against his own people in Syria are horrific; however, what I do not understand is why no other nation is willing to join us in this fight. Why did England decide to back out of the pending warfare? Where are all the Muslim nations? Why are they not standing up for their Islamic brothers? Where is Israel? Do they have nothing to lose if al-Assad continues the senseless slaughter of his people?
What will the objective of this war be? What will it take for America to decide that our mission is complete? President Barack Obama has stated that the goal is not to remove President al-Assad from power. However, what will it take militarily to convince him to stop the senseless killing of his nation’s citizens? President Obama has stated that no American “boots” will be on the ground. However, we were led to believe that only advisers were being used in Vietnam, yet that quickly escalated into as many as 536,000 soldiers were in country at its peak during 1968 and resulted in the deaths of more than 58,000 Americans. That senseless war has been estimated to have killed as many as 3,000,000 Vietnamese, 300,000 Cambodians and 200,000 Laotians.
During the past thirty years, America has been involved in some sort of military encounter in twenty-three of them. This is astonishing. The Iraq War, when it “officially” ended for America was this nation’s longest, has turned in a catastrophe for the Iraqi people. Every day, it seems there is another car bombing or two resulting in the deaths of several dozen innocent people. The Afghan War, now the nation’s longest, is to end for America at the end of 2014. However, does anyone really believe the conflict will end at that time for the Afghan people as the Taliban and al-Qaeda continue the fight for control of that nation?
I have written many times over the past decade that it is our military endeavors that are bankrupting this nation. With an annual defense budget of nearly $900 billion, we spend nearly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined. When combined with our intelligence agencies, we spend nearly $1.5 trillion on defense and intelligence related expenditures every year. Moreover, this does not include America’s newly created ultra secret intelligence budget.
Since September 11, 2001, our government has built up such a top-secret network of intelligence agencies that no one knows how much it cost, how many it employs or how many agencies it runs. The defense budget itself has nearly doubled since 2000, yet where has all this spending gotten us? As a nation, we live in fear of another September 11th attack; all the while our country is falling apart at the seams, be it our rapidly aging and decaying infrastructure system, crumbling inner cities that have become battlegrounds or a failing public school system. America is bankrupting itself and it is not from our spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It is from our imperialistic attitude and our attempt to dominate the world we call planet Earth.
In a rather sad, ironic twist, America is by far the world’s largest arms dealer, again selling nearly as many armaments as the rest of the world combined. Thus, not only are we bankrupting ourselves with our military spending, but we are also heavily arming the rest of the world. One must remember that America armed Saddam Hussein when he was at war with Iran in the 1980s and we armed Osama bin Laden when he fought the Russians in Afghanistan, also during the ‘80s. America has a very long, extensive history of arming and supporting malevolence dictators and lunatics, in the name of what is best for this country, not necessarily what is best for the rest of the world. I would not be the least bit surprised if the sarin allegedly used by al-Assad was sold to him by the United States.
In my writings, I like to quote former president and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower, who in his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Coming from a five-star general, America should have listened. Instead, during the past two decades America has become the world’s most war-mongering nation. War is big business and the only way the military-industrial complex stays in business and remains profitable is by this nation engaging in war. Is this really the business America wants to be in?
There are too many unknown and unanswered questions for this nation to engage once again in another armed conflict, even if we were not still at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is time for other nations, via the United Nations or NATO to step forward to stop the carnage that is occurring in Syria.
Steven H. Spring