The US Military Catch-All Thread


#162

Well, it’s a bit more nuanced than that. If we don’t have that ability, then you run the risk of more bad actors starting regional conflicts by invading their neighbors.

Further, our operational costs are even higher, because one of the main orders for our military is that they need to be able to operate in two separate theaters at any time, so that deployment does not end up encouraging other bad actors from trying to take advantage of our forces being used elsewhere.

For better or worse, we are essentially the world’s police. If we stop performing that duty, i don’t think anyone else will, and there will likely be repercussions to that change.


#163

I’d say that, if this is true, we suck at the job. For one thing, to be a police force, you need to have a body of law to enforce, and to be legitimate it has to be a body of law stemming from a recognized and accepted sovereign entity. Otherwise it’s just the use of force to support one faction or groups agenda.

I mean, we justifiably slam countries where the police force is little more than a goon squad for the ruling party. But the way the USA approaches “world policing” is arguably the same. There is no body of international law that we enforce–what little international law there is we’re just as guilty of violating as of enforcing in many cases. We use our military to support our partisan objectives, which we argue are or should be the objectives of all right-thinking people. But even the seemingly most clear-cut cases of human rights abuses and what not are rarely clear cut at the level of international intervention, and it’s hard not to argue that in many cases our “cure” is as bad if not worse than the disease.

I’m not saying the USA should not have a strong international role. I’m saying that it’s disingenuous at best to argue that there is some stand-alone, self-evident law enforcement role that we fill, and that what we do is somehow according to universal values. It’s not. It’s self-serving, and often not very intelligently self-serving, and if it sometimes–maybe even fairly often–ends up more or less acting on the side of the angels, it’s pretty much coincidence, as far as most of the world is concerned.

Americans, of course, have no such qualms, as the American creed is that right = whatever the USA does, and as long as that is true, well, there’s really no dialog on this stuff.

tl;dr, whatever military we need should be determined by careful analysis and discussion, not by blithe assumptions about the rectitude of our cause.


#164

Generally, if you compare the US motivations to those of our enemies in the world… Yeah, the US is the good guy.

If the US withdraws from it’s current stance, that vacuum isn’t going to be filled by liberal minded Western European countries.

It’s going to be replaced by militant powers like China and Russia.

The comparison to cops is perhaps more fitting now, in that lots of folks hate them, and sometimes cops do bad things… But i sure as hell wouldn’t want to live somewhere without cops.


#165

This is, well, breathtaking. Who are the enemies, and what are their motivations, and how are they different from ours?


#166

You can’t be serious.

Look at Russia in Syria. Or Ukraine.

Let me know when the US starts barrel bombing civilian first responders and using nerve agent against people who say mean things.


#167

Yeah, I’m absolutely willing to stand by my statement that the US is the good guy. We are not perfect but any stretch of the imagination, but we absolutely are a force for good in the world.

You remove the US from the equation, and the world would be a far, far worse place.


#168

I can’t really agree, Timex. I grew up believing this, but the reality of the last forty years has been quite different. It’s not that other visions are good, but that ours simply, well, isn’t, not in the way we once believed it was. Nations are not, as entities, good, and the fact that we’ve been able to argue with varying degrees of plausibility that the USA is different may well point to some aspects of the American experience that are laudatory. No argument there. But even the stuff we have felt is the most positive often has had sometimes terrible unintended consequences.

We can’t simply assert that a world we like is better than all the others. Even our defense of what many would call human rights gets us into some very complex and contradictory intellectual places. And I defy anyone to argue plausibly that we haven’t been mostly focused on the right of wealthy property owning entities to conduct their business as much as anything else over the past few decades. Our crusades against what we call terrorism over-simplifies complex law enforcement issues and elevates what should be international criminal investigations to the level of national warfare, with predictable and unfortunate results. Little of what we have done in the past several decades has actually enhanced our security, unless you define security as the security of multinational corporations and the military industrial complex.

Now, I’m open to a realpolitik argument that, well, capitalism is our lifeblood, and our interests globally require us to enforce a neo-liberal world order, part of which might well include making sure that people important to that order are able to live safely and prosperously. I would not necessarily agree with this approach, but it is logical and honest. But when we do just this, but say it’s part of some universal, self-evident defense of human rights or something, it doesn’t wash. The evidence is in the results–the world is not safer after decades of American military activity at a very high level. Far from it. Would the world be better off if we had not done what we’ve done? I do not know. I do know that there is no friggin’ plan, or strategy, or policy, beyond short-term reaction, and that is immoral when it involves the use of force. I mean, go back to Augustine and Aquinas, and just war theory; pretty much everything we’ve done in the past few decades would not pass the sniff test for them.


#169

Tell me who you would prefer run the world then.

There is nothing wrong with criticizing our country. That’s part of what makes us good.

Remove us, and we will be replaced by someone who isn’t so open minded.


#170

Saying we are not horrible like the Russians or Syrians is not the same as saying we are doing good, though. Not doing bad is the expected default and minimum, not something that is praiseworthy in and of itself. We do not do a lot of those horrible things, but neither do a lot of other nations. I do agree that different countries do have very different motivations and methods. What I object to is the glossing over of the discussion of just what our motivations are. We like to think and say that we’re motivated by truth, justice, and the American way sort of things, but those generalities don’t make policy or strategy, and when we try to extend them to policy, we end up pretty much enforcing one very specific political and economic framework on everyone, whether it works or not.

We don’t barrel bomb and the like, but our Saudi friends, with our weapons, and our support, do that sort of stuff to the Yemenis every day. The only people who think our drone campaigns are justified are, well, us; pretty much everyone else in the world is appalled by them. And again, what do we have to show for any of this? You can argue that we’ve made the world a better place, but I have yet to see much evidence of that. In some cases, sure, our actions were preferable to other actions. In many cases, though–Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq–our actions have been disastrous.

What I’m saying is I reject an a priori assumption that if we are doing it, it is good, because the other people out there are bad. We may be doing some things right. We may not be doing others right. But without actually sitting down and saying, hmm, what are we doing, why are we doing it, and should we be doing it, we will not make the world better.


#171

We are nothing like the world’s police. We never intervene unless it’s in our interest. We ignore the rule of law. We break treaties left and right. We defy the World court. We are the opposite of police.


#172

So who do you think is?


#173

I think what some of us are saying is, WE DON’T RUN THE FUCKING WORLD. That’s an illusion. It is not ours to run. We have never, since we became a true world power after WWII, given the world a chance to actually run itself. We’ve imposed ourselves on the world in different ways, sometimes with good results, sometimes disastrously. The world does not need someone “running” it, especially if that entity is simply running the world in the interests of one narrow ideological paradigm regardless of what anyone else wants.

I’m not an isolationist, by any means. I believe we need to be fully engaged in the world, as active and equal partners with as many other nations as we can get to work together. Even if we have more resources, we should not be calling all the shots. Stability and peace and prosperity require cooperation and collaboration, and compromise. They also require an actual commitment to more than profit and xenophobia, which increasingly have become the US substitute for foreign policy.

What you are describing is a Pax Americana, an empire. We are terrible at running empires. Not only is there little to no moral justification for it, we have nowhere near the understanding of the world that even the friggin’ Romans had in their day. I’m interested in a world where, yeah, coalitions might have to take action to stop the really bad sumbitches from doing things, but all in all where everyone sort of accepts that stuff is different in different places and focuses on making their own citizens fat, dumb, and happy.


#174

No one is, of course. But until we accede to something like the international rule of law – or at least to our own which supposedly makes treaties the law of the land, we can’t pretend to this role.


#175

But we aren’t fighting Russia in Syria, or in Ukraine. It’s almost inconceivable that we’ll end up actually fighting against Russia. So we’re not using our great police power to police them, are we? We’re using it to help KSA bomb Yemen.

The US bombs civilians nearly ever single day. I’m sure it matters a great deal to the dead civilians what sort of munition we used.


#176

Yeah. When we shoot hellfires at a wedding I’m sure it’s a great consolation to the survivors that no cluster munitions were deployed.


#177

What is the practical difference between being the world’s police and being the world’s organized crime boss? As you describe it, isn’t the one basically the same as the other?


#178

I should say the world has never had a police force and never will until a world government is declared. The UN has the theoretical authority to intervene when certain conditions permit, but the chief condition is the accession of the security council, which virtually never happens.


#179

Because it won’t, dude. That’s not how it works. It never worked that way. It never will. Nothing is ever going to magically make everyone play nice. Countries will invade their neighbors, and the conflict will expand into global wars, just like happened before.

But you just cited things like “rule of law” and “the world court”.

You can’t have those things without someone enforcing them. So who is doing that?


#180

No one is doing that. Was it a trick question?


#181

If trump and republicans stay in power, that will not be the case. I mean, state sponsored kidnapping…