War by any other name

You might think America isn’t in the war business any more––what with so much recent talk about troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Colin Powell endorsement of the peace loving Obama, and Romney’s yammering about U.S military decline. But hang on a second. It’s not that the U.S. isn’t fighting. The combat actually continues, but it’s quite different than what most people conceive as “war,” per se. While official wars involving the U.S. are winding down, all sorts of smaller special operations or war-by-proxy campaigns are being undertaken on America’s behalf.

By some accounts the U.S. is currently conducting secret wars in 75 nations. These are explained in a lengthy article by Nick Turse appearing in Le Monde, entitled “A Failed Formula for Worldwide War: How the Empire Changed its Face, But Not its Nature.”

“In one way or another, the U.S. military is now involved with most of the nations on Earth,” Turse writes. “Its soldiers, commandos, trainers, base builders, drone jockeys, spies, and arms dealers, as well as associated hired guns and corporate contractors, can now be found just about everywhere on the planet. The sun never sets on American troops conducting operations, training allies, arming surrogates, schooling its own personnel, purchasing new weapons and equipment, developing fresh doctrine, implementing novel tactics, and refining their martial arts. The U.S. has submarines trolling the briny deep and aircraft carrier task forces traversing the oceans and seas, robotic drones flying constant missions and manned aircraft patrolling the skies, while above them, spy satellites circle, peering down on friend and foe alike.

“Since 2001, the U.S. military has thrown everything in its arsenal, short of nuclear weapons, including untold billions of dollars in weaponry, technology, bribes, you name it, at a remarkably weak set of enemies — relatively small groups of poorly-armed fighters in impoverished nations like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen — while decisively defeating none of them. With its deep pockets and long reach, its technology and training acumen, as well as the devastatingly destructive power at its command, the U.S. military should have the planet on lockdown. It should, by all rights, dominate the world just as the neoconservative dreamers of the early Bush years assumed it would.”

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