Thursday, January 26, 2006

Military Stretched Thin?

I don't often post straight news, but it's been a while and I ought to post something. Besides, this is important. From the AP:

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON - Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended.

As evidence, Krepinevich points to the Army's 2005 recruiting slump — missing its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999 — and its decision to offer much bigger enlistment bonuses and other incentives.

"You really begin to wonder just how much stress and strain there is on the Army, how much longer it can continue," he said in an interview. He added that the Army is still a highly effective fighting force and is implementing a plan that will expand the number of combat brigades available for rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan.


And yet, I suppose it would be unpatriotic of me and show a lack of support for our troops if I suggested that we really can't afford to wage war as solution for all the "bad guys" out there? Forget the whole morality question: It just isn't feasible.

We can't solve rogue regime problems by warring. If it's stretching us thin to deal with a wiped out nation like Iraq, what would it cost to deal with a North Korea? China? And so, if that is the case, wouldn't it be wise if we looked at other solutions?

[editor's note: I had an unusual page popping up when I linked on the comments, so I deleted this post and added it back in. I didn't know how to "find" my comments that were already there, so they are gone. Sorry.

Do you reckon this was an accident or some deliberate sabatoge? I can't imagine somebody wanting to actually mess up the comments page, so I'm figuring it was just some glitch. Anyway, feel free to post comments and we'll see what happens...

Does anyone know of anyway to edit the comments page? I know about deleting and moderating, but what I'm wondering is if there's a way to actually edit that page like I'm editing this one. Thanks.]


Dan Trabue said...

Test. It works?

madcapmum said...

Yes, it does. Everything as it were.

Neo-Con Tastic said...

Sure *saracasm* All part of your diabolical scheme to quiet the Right Wing and the truth. Dan, your "accidental deletion" reminds me of some other medium of information... the MSM and their often occuring omissions.


Daniel Levesque said...

"We can't solve rogue regime problems by warring"

Sure, other than freeing America, ending slavery, ending oppression in various countries, ending the genocide of the Jews, and various other trivial matters war has solved nothing.

I do hope the sarcasm isn't lost on you.

Anonymous said...

Daniel levesque, It will be. Sarcasm lost, that is.

Dan Trabue said...

Ow, Anonymous! I'm cut to the bone by your brave and nameless chastising of my wit. Have mercy on me, unknown stranger!

Marcguyver said...

Good Points Daniel.

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, I won't be able to address this with much justice in this short format, but a few thoughts in response to DL's suggestion that war freed slaves, gave us independence, ends oppression, etc.

Your comments would be a justification for war (who would be against stopping slavery or ending oppression?) IF they were the only choices. That is, either have a civil war or continue to have slavery.

But such reasoning is based upon a false dichotomy.

Yes, at the end of the Civil War, slavery was abolished. However, slavery was abolished in Britain and other places without the "benefit" of war.

Additionally, the Civil War cost us over half a million lives and a devastated South. Could slavery have ended without the War? Almost certainly (it exists nowhere legally today).

Would a peaceful resolution to the slavery problem have resulted in a sounder economy, fewer lives lost, less racism in the south in the century that followed and still been accomplished in a just and timely manner? It is, of course, impossible to say, the Turtledove fiction notwithstanding. But it's entirely possible.

Could we have achieved independence from Britain sans a war? Canada did. We almost certainly would have. But such is speculation.

WWII? Maybe that was truly a defensive war, but we must keep in mind the costs of that war as well: Some 30-50 million dead! Entire cities destroyed. The Cold War. The acceptance of nuclear weaponry as legitimate. Trillions of dollars. Could it have been averted more peacefully? Twould only be speculation.

The point is, we are not faced with the choice of using war or accepting whatever bogarts you wish to trot out (slavery, oppression, etc). We are faced with dealing with serious problems such as slavery and oppression and counting the costs of how best to end them.

War has not ended slavery nor oppression. It has caused temporary cessation of overt violence in places where active oppression was occurring, but it is no cure. It is a tool, one which has been blindly accepted as the only choice more often than reality warrants.

Daniel Levesque said...

Dan T,

What you are overlooking, or refuse to acknowlegde, is that sometime the peaceful diplomatic process fails utterly, as it did regarding slavery in the US, and war is left as the only remaining option.

We listened to the peacenicks during most of WW II, and look at what it got us. Look at what happened to the Jews that we may have been able prevent or shorten. Peaceful solutions are NOT always the right anwer because they do not always work. I will state, however, that peaceful solution should be tried first with war saved as a last resort.

Anonymous said...

If it will please you, I have a name - Marilyn.

Dan Trabue said...

"We listened to the peacenicks during most of WW II"

Which peaceniks?

Are you talking about the isolationists? Those weren't Just Peacemakers. Are you talking about the appeasers? Those weren't Just Peacemakers.

Or, would you be talking about the peaceniks who said, at the end of WWI, that the penalties imposed upon Germany were too severe and that no good would come of it? Now, those were just peacemakers with some foresight.

I'll paraphrase Chesterton again: Just Peacemaking hasn't been tried and found wanting, it's been found difficult and left untried.

Dan Trabue said...

Welcome, Marilyn! It pleaseth me much, thanks.

On Daniel's comment, "sometimes war is left as the only remaining option...":

War is never the only option except for people with limited imagination.

Let me let you in on a little secret: I'm not necessarily saying that no defensive wars ought to ever be fought.


What I'm saying is that the notion of war should be so hated and SOOO far down our list of possible options is that we consider it verboten.

In other words, while we might could agree that war should only be a last resort, your last resort and mine are vastly different. Further, because we hold that "last resort" option as on the table, that limits are determination to find just and peaceful means to resolve problems.

If those who believe in war thought of it in terms of the evil that it is (an evil in which children WILL be killed; An evil in which MY CHILDREN WILL be horribly killed and I will be forced to kill other children), then we'd be less likely to engage in it.

Instead, it tends to be glorified by folk like Bush who have never participated in it as noble and righteous.

You're saying that Hitler's killing of millions of people was a horror that had to be stopped (and, of course, we all agree). But if you knew that it would cost 50 million lives to stop Hitler by means of war and that we would stoop to fire-bombing and nuking cities full of children, would you still endorse that as a viable solution?

In short: If Hitler could be stopped, but to do so you would have to push a button that would kill 50 million men, women and children, would you do it?

Marty said...

I know, Daniel L., that you are in the military. But you've not seen war up close and personal. Perhaps it is a good time to remember something a great general and statesman/president said as he was leaving office:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children....This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross."
Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953

And another: "Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other."
James Madison

The Army is stretched too thin. It is evidenced by wide spread stop loss, deployment extentions, extending the enlistment age to 40 and giving $40,000 sign up bonuses, and the fact they are deploying soldiers who have "undeployable" med profiles.

Neo-Con Tastic said...

Dan, d d d d d d did you just quote G.K. Chesterson?

A Progressive quoting a Catholic? I need a drink!

"The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." - Chesterton

Marty said...

Golly I was under the impression that Catholics were rather progressive. The facilitator for my non-violence class was a Catholic nun. And what about "The Catholic Worker" and Dorothy Day?

Dan Trabue said...

Yeah, neo, you need to hang out with some better quality Catholics.

"For my part, I believe that the vain, glorious and the violent will not inherit the earth. . . . In pursuance of that faith my friends and I take the hands of the dying in our hands."

Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit priest

"We read the gospel as if we had no money and we spend our money as if we knew nothing of the gospel."

John Haughey, Jesuit theologian

"Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed so easily."

Dorothy Day

Eleutheros said...

Concerning war: It seems to me that Daniel and Dan are pulling in oppisite directions but at the same time each of them at right angles to the real issue.

All wars are economic. All of them. I invite anyone to name a war that at the heart of it that was not motivated by economics.

Take the War for Southern Independence as and example. Slavery was a last minute excuse slapped onto the war effort when support for the war was waning in the North. No need for minutia here, but the war started in 1860 and the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863! Closer to the end of the war than its beginning. And even then it didn't free the slaves, it only declared slaves to be free in those states that would not agree to cease hostilities against the Union. Had a state in the Confederacy agreed to lay down its arms, they could have kept their slaves and dealt with the problem otherwise.

What those who look for another cause of the war besides economics overlook is that between 1800 and the early 1850's the North divested itself of "slave property" by selling them to Caribbean plantations where they were worked to death when almost entirely because slave holding had become economically infeasilbe. The North had access to indentured servants whose health and welfare they were not responsible for and that was cheaper than holding slaves.

The South was unwilling to abuse its slave population that way yet it was well known and well recognized that slavery was quickly becoming infeasible there too. Dan is right, had the war not been fought, slavery would have ended in a relatively short time no matter what. Does anyone reasonably believe that twenty-five years after Fort Sumpter there still would have been slavery anywhere in the US if the war had not taken place?

Remember that in the 19th century almost all federal taxes derived from export tariffs. It was tariffs on Southern agricultural goods passing through Norhtern ports that built the infrastructure of the big Northern cities. With Cessation of the Southern states and the Confederacy's plan to build canals to the Mississippi and ship via New Orleans and bypass the Northern ports, the Norht risked losing the goose that was laying golden eggs.

Slavery was tagged on as an excuse.

All wars are this way, all wars are economic. All of them. When you choose to participate in an economy that by its very nature must depend on war to enforce its interests, you are mongering for war by your very lifestyle.

The non-war approach is there, it's workable and feaisble. What I see is people walking right past it on their way to the protest signs which are yet just another of the cousins of war.

Daniel Levesque said...

Dan T,

In response to your question regarding the cost in lives of WW II and, had we foreknowledge of it, would/should we still have fought it?

Yes, even if we had not been attacked first.

I say this because, as I thought the question over, my mind turned to another equally oppressive and violent form of government to the Nazis . . . Communism. We refused to nip Communism in the bud the way we did to the Nazis, and rather than saving lives, over 100,000,000 civilians were murdered by Communist regimes over 50 years, not to mention the loss of lives in subsequent wars resulting from the agressive spread of Communism, which I would guess to exceed an additional 50,000,000 at least.

Considering the above, I say 50,000,000 lives is a fair price to pay to preserve an additonal 100,000,000. It's 2-1 investment, whic is rather coldhearted when you speak in human terms, but 2 lives ARE more than 1.

Also, had we Jumped in WW II at the very start we may well have been able to crush the Nazis long before the war could have become so widespread and costly, thereby saving even more lives.

Eleutheros said...

Daniel, I imagine you are right if we take a snapshot of the world in the mid to late 1930's. Playing the ball where it lay at that time, what else could we do?

But why were we playing such a bad hand of cards? It was, says I, due to the excesses of the teen's and '20's. Then, to an extent far greater than in the past of human hisory, many tens of thousands (if not millions) viewed the economic world as a place they could manipulate, by sleight of hand, bits of paper and documents and thereby enjoy the material goods others were producing for the rest of their lives. The economic fallout was felt around the world and, says I, dealt the cards that played out as WWII.

Dan, if I am not mistaken, would opine that in 1938 or 1940 we could have negotiated our way out of a world war. I very much doubt it. The only way we could have avoided war would have been to not live the way we did in the teens and '20's.

I say that in the 20's people schemed to live off the labor of others rather than produce anything themselves far more than had ever happened in history UP TO THAT TIME. We are now setting the stage for the next world conflict by our lifestyle.

Hamel said...

Lost in the battle of WWII here is that Hitler was created by the constant concessions. The size and scope of the war itself, as well as the Holocaust, was avoidable without war if people would have been intelligent enough - both within Germany and without - to intervene *before* war was necessary.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks everyone for your intriguing comments. Welcome, Hamel!

I agree with what Hamel and Eleutheros said. That the time to prevent war is way before you get in to a shoving match. (That's one of the situations pacifists are often provided: But what would you have done about Hitler? There you had an aggressive leader intent on much destruction.)

The time to stop Hitler was before he came to power. Don't create a monster and then ask non-violent resisters to stop it. (That's part of the problem of dropping an A-bomb or fire-bombing cities: You've already set a precedent for terrifying violence towards civilians, so how can we now claim it to be wrong?)

Having said that, I do believe in the power of Direct Action non-violence to accomplish a lot and I suspect that, if we want to measure success in terms of less lives lost, DANV could have accomplished the same with under 50 million lives lost.

Tis a meaningless and unprovable point of me to make, but so is standing in front of a Saddam-led Iraq and saying we can breeze in with our military and leave a Democracy in 50 days or less.