More on the 30,000 Proposed Troops

Mike responds to a post I wrote that questioned Speaker Pelosi’s call to increase the military by 30,000 troops.

I agree that given the way the force and its responsibilities (more about those below) are currently structured, the troop rotation schedule is near the breaking point. However, I still disagree with Mike for two reasons. First, I simply don’t trust the current administration not to send the troops to Iraq. Nothing the Bush administration has done in the past six years has convinced me that they will do anything other than that, Congress be damned. The only way Bush will not escalate the Iraqi Occupation is if he is impeached, he resigns, or his term ends. He is the Decider, after all.
The second issue is more complex. While some of our committments are humanitarian, like Haiti and Bosnia, much of our overseas deployment isn’t humanitarian, but ‘force projection.’ In other words, we are replacing our civilian foreign policy apparatus with military power. This is not a call for disbanding the military, but is only a recognition that resources are finite and that military might is not the best means to solve all (or many) international problems (Let’s just ignore that those leaders who are more tempted to use a larger military than a smaller one are the usually same leaders who don’t give a rat’s ass about the welfare of the line trooper). And that’s before you get to veniality or cynical political machination.
There is an underlying assumption that a large ‘professional’ military is a good thing. It is very good at one thing: offensive war that requires little advice or consent from the American people. As we have seen in Iraq, this capability leads to foreign ‘adventures’ that border on the imperial (if not long jump right over that border). In these wars that are conducted by a de facto expeditionary force, serious concern for the military and its families will decrease (a yellow magnet on one’s SUV does not qualify as concern; raising taxes to pay for adequately armored vehicles and body armor does).
Mike mentioned the Cold War, and I think one phrase that became lost shortly after the Cold War was “peace dividend.” The permanence of the military-industrial complex is not beneficial, and should have been allowed to wither: the Cold War is over, and we won (or at least survived). Militarization should not be a permanent state of affairs (if I remember correctly, that dirty fucking hippie, Dwight Eisenhower, said something similar many years ago). And as we’ve seen under Bush, militarization, if not checked, increases (e.g., the increasing reliance on the military to conduct intelligence and foreign policy negotiations–in fairness, there was a great deal of this under Clinton too).
At some point, we are going to have to scale back our military forces, whether due to simple economic insustainability or due to one intervention too many that goes sideways. I don’t expect the Democrats to advocate cutting the number of troops given the political climate, but I really don’t think we need to give another future president even more temptations to engage in foolish foreign policy militarism.

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3 Responses to More on the 30,000 Proposed Troops

  1. Matt Platte says:

    That’s teh funny. I saw my first hippies at Ike’s funeral in Abilene. They were walking around barefoot and bedraggled; quite a contrast to my uncle who got to carry a flag in the parade.

  2. The problem America has right now is one faced by almost every empire in world history, and especially it’s most recent and closest analog, the British Empire: inertia. The U.S. has dug itself into so many commitments overseas that something is bound to give somewhere eventually, but there are so many interlocking and entrenched interests in maintaining them that challenging them is at best politically futile (at worst, suicidal).
    With military overextension going into overdrive, our economic hegemony being challenged by up and comers like China and India, and the increasing perception of ineptitude and loss of credibility, I predict that within the next half-century we’ll be a relatively marginal force on the world stage. We’re in the final throes of the unipolar moment.

  3. Coin says:

    a post I wrote that questioned Speaker Pelosi’s call to increase the military by 30,000 troops.
    Is this what you meant to say?

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