Tuesday, December 16, 2008

See POISON DUST on December 19/Douglas MacGregor | Mr. Obama, Weigh the Price of War



Join on December 19 for POISON DUST.  Plowshares activist Susan Crane will lead the discussion after the film is shown, and a recovering Chuck michaels will be there as well.  Kagiso, Max


 The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee is hosting its latest FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS VIDEO SERIES.  The next film, POISON DUST [USA, 2006], will be shown Fri., Dec. 19 at AFSC, 4806 York Road [three blocks north of Cold Spring Lane].  Doors open at 7 PM, and the video starts at 7:30 PM.  There is no charge, and refreshments will be available.  Call 410-366-1637.

 Filmmaker Sue Harris tells the story of young soldiers who came home from Iraq suffering from exposure to depleted uranium.  One veteran's young daughter has a birth defect strikingly similar to those suffered by many Iraqi children. Also interviewed are former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, New York Daily News reporter Juan Gonzalez, noted physicist Michio Kaku, Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Dr. Helen Caldicott and Major Doug Rokke- the former U.S. Army DU Project head. 




t r u t h o u t | 12.16




Mr. Obama, Weigh the Price of War

Monday 15 December 2008


by: Douglas MacGregor, Defense News


    Today's world is different from the world of 1991 or 2001. Outside of the United States and Western Europe, nation-building with U.S. military power is a euphemism for imperialism. American financial hegemony has collapsed. As seen in Iraq, the "total victory" construct as it equates to the imposition of Western-style government and a free-market economy subservient to the U.S. is in full retreat.


    In the broader Middle East, as well as in most of Africa, Latin America and Asia, "damage control," not "total victory," is the most realistic goal for U.S. national security strategy.


    India's looming conflict with Pakistan, along with Russia's recent scrap with Georgia, may be a foretaste of future wars, rather than the insurgency model some mistakenly believe we have mastered. In fact, conflicts in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are more likely to resemble the Balkan Wars of the early 20th century, except that future wars for regional power and influence will overlap with the competition for energy, water, food, mineral resources and the wealth they create.


    But these conflicts need not involve the United States. In fact, direct military involvement in future conflicts, where the United States itself is not attacked and its prosperity and security are not at risk, should be avoided. Otherwise, the United States risks repeating Britain's mistake in 1914: overestimating its national power by involving itself in a self-defeating war it does not need to fight, and precipitating its own economic and military decline.


    When word reached Britain on Aug. 1, 1914, of Germany's mobilization for war, Winston Churchill recorded of the British Cabinet, "At least three-quarters of its members were determined not to be drawn into a European quarrel unless Great Britain was herself attacked, which was unlikely."


    German-speaking and English-speaking peoples had a long history of cooperation, not conflict. British leaders also knew the English Channel and the massive Royal Navy made a German channel crossing impossible.


    However, war was popular with the British people, whose recent experience was limited to a short conflict with the Boers in South Africa, a valiant but vastly outnumbered and comparatively weak enemy. Ultimately, the feeling of limitless power combined with the new idea that Britain had a moral obligation to save her historic enemy, France, from defeat.


    In the end, Britain's human losses were staggering; one in 16 British men between 15 and 50, or nearly 800,000 died. Paying for Britain's participation in World War I led to a tenfold increase in Britain's national debt. Paying the interest alone consumed half of British government spending by the mid-1920s.


    Britain's Pyrrhic victory cost the British people their national power, their standard of living, and, in less than 20 years, their empire. Had anyone in London's leadership stopped to seriously examine what outcome it was they wanted to achieve with military power, and what military capabilities were at their disposal to do so, it is doubtful they would have reached the decisions they did.


    After the decision to fight was made, Field Marshal Sir Herbert Kitchener, the newly appointed British minister of war, briefed the British Cabinet. He stunned Britain's leaders with the news that their empire would have to maintain an army of millions, the war would last for at least three years and that it would be decided on the continent, not at sea.


    Britain's leaders, including Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, believed a war with Germany would be short, and the Royal Navy, not the British, French and Russian armies, would decide its outcome.


    The possibility that Britain's small, professional army could not sustain a war with Germany and Austria for more than a few months, that Germany would decline to fight on Britain's terms (at sea), and that the war on land would consume Britain's national wealth did not seem to occur to most of the Cabinet members until Kitchener made his presentation.


    How did this happen? The British interpreted the world that existed beyond their empire in ways that flattered Britain's national self-image of limitless money and power.


    The lesson for Obama is instructive: When national military strategy fails to answer the questions of purpose, method and end-state, military power becomes an engine of destruction not just for its intended enemies, but for its supporting society and economy. If the price of victory is potentially excessive, then the use of force should be avoided.


    Changing how America thinks about the use of force won't be easy, but Obama needs to do it. The 21st century is no time for misinformed decisions.




    Douglas Macgregor is a former US Army colonel who contributed a chapter, encapsulated here, to the new anthology, "America's Defense Meltdown: Pentagon Reform for President Obama and the New Congress."


Click to SUBSCRIBE -> http://www.truthout.org/content/subscribe



No comments: