Friday, January 1, 2010

Andrew Bacevich on Endless War

Andrew J. Bacevich is a Prof. of International Relations and History at Boston Univ. He has written several books about the consequences of U.S. empire building and militarism.

In a recent post on CounterPunch, Bacevich describes our endless war in Afghanistan.

Here is an excerpt:

Americans today haven't a clue when, where or how their war will end. The Long War, as the Pentagon aptly calls it, has no coherent narrative. When it comes to defining victory, U.S. political and military leaders are flying blind.

Historically, the default strategy for wars that lack a plausible victory narrative is attrition. When you don't know how to win, you try to outlast your opponent, hoping he'll run out of troops, money and will before you do. Think World War I, but also Vietnam.

The revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, celebrated as evidence of enlightened military practice, commits America to a postmodern version of attrition. Rather than wearing the enemy down, we'll build contested countries up, while expending hundreds of billions of dollars (borrowed from abroad) and hundreds of soldiers' lives (sent from home).

I've read many analyses of why the U.S. is in Afghanistan. Some observers believe we are there in order to protect a Unocal pipeline that will allow gas to be transported to a port in India without going through Iran.

Others see our presence in Afghanistan as a continuation of the "Great Game" chronicled by Brzezinski. Which ever nation controls the region controls the world so this narrative goes.

Bacevich doesn't provide a definitive explanation but focuses instead on the pointless justifications used publicly to explain this endless war.

One thing is certain, the U.S. is increasingly resembling an authoritarian empire rather than embodying a beacon of democracy.

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