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eXiled Alert! / Fatwah / September 3, 2009

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This article first appeared in Alternet.

America now has more military personnel in Afghanistan than the Red Army had at the peak of the Soviet invasion and occupation of that country. According to a Congressional Research Service report, as of March of this year, the U.S. had 52,000 uniformed personnel and another 68,000 contractors in Afghanistan — a number that has likely grown given the blank check President Obama has written for what’s now being called “Obama’s War.”

That makes 120,000 American military personnel fighting in Afghanistan, a figure higher than the Soviet peak troop figure of 115,000 during their catastrophic 9-year war. Just this week, General McChrystal, whom Obama appointed to command American forces in Afghanistan, is talking of sending tens of thousands more American troops. At the height of the Soviet occupation,Western intelligence experts estimated that the Soviets had 115,000 troops in Afghanistan — but like America, the more troops and the longer the Soviets stayed, the more doomed their military mission became.

afghanistan-contactors-troops

We’re also heading into the same casualty trap as the Soviets did. This summer has been the deadliest in the eight-year war for American troops. While the number of uniformed Americans killed in combat in Afghanistan may seem comparatively low — just over 800, most of those since 2007 — the Soviets also suffered relatively light casualties. Between December 1979 and February 1989, just 13,000 Soviets were killed in Afghanistan, a seemingly paltry figure when you compare it to the 20 million Soviets killed in World War Two, and the millions upon millions who died in the Civil War and Stalin’s Terror. Unlike America, Russians have a reputation for tolerating appalling casualty figures — and yet the war in Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet Empire. Which only proves that crude number comparisons explain nothing at all in warfare today, particularly when that war is an occupation of an alien environment like Afghanistan.

Why hasn’t anyone pointed out that America’s troop commitment now exceeds the Red Army’s? For some inexplicable reason the corporate media has decided to shuffle the figures and exclude the US military contractors from the total figure of US military personnel. It makes no logical sense — we still count the Hessians among the British forces in the War of Independence. It’s as if the only thing left that Americans are capable of is accounting fraud — the only talent we perfected over the past decade was how to move all the bad numbers off the official books, as if it’s become an instinctive reflex.

But just as those accounting tricks didn’t change all those banks’ and funds’ insolvency, so the American media’s troop-counting tricks, in which contractors are “off books,” can’t make the disaster in Afghanistan disappear. We’re already more deeply invested in our Afghanistan war than the Russians were, and as we head into our ninth year — the magic number for when the Soviets pulled out and their empire collapsed — President Obama is dragging the country deeper into that disaster. (Moreover, if you add in all the NATO personnel – useless as they are as a “fighting” force — the number of Western troops already far exceeds the number deployed in the Soviet Union’s “unwinnable” war.)

afghanistan-nz-troops-russian-tank1

Kiwi coalition grunts hamming it up next to old abandoned Soviet tank

The Afghanistan War has somehow escaped most of America’s attention. People just assumed that since Obama is a decent guy with a sharper mind than Bush’s, he must know what he’s doing in Afghanistan, and his intentions can’t be bad — so why bother paying attention, when we have all these other problems here at home? Besides, war isn’t a fun topic anymore. Thanks to Bush and Cheney, any talk of war is a total bummer, whether you’re from the right or the left. And Americans don’t like bummers — instead, America is always “moving on” from its bummers. Nothing bums Americans out more than losing wars, which helps explain why Afghanistan is the most we’ve-moved-on subject of our time. The problem is that you can’t move on from something while it’s still a problem — but try telling that to a nation of delusionals.

Remember how long after Vietnam it took for for Americans to “move on” and get their war appetite back on? It took a decade before we could talk about ‘Nam again, and that probably would have gone on longer if it wasn’t for the kick-ass performance by Robert Duvall as Col Kilgore stirring a new generation’s blood lust. (For a taste of just how cinematic this budding tragedy could be, click here to check out these amazing photos.) We suffered then from “Vietnam Syndrome,” which was a strange way of assigning a mental illness to a totally rational aversion to invading far-away countries. This time it’s going to be even worse, though: given our 0-2 war record this decade, and the shameful way that America’s pseudo-imperialists snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, like a nation of Bill Buckners, it’s no wonder no one here wants to talk about Afghanistan.

Since we’ve already long ago “moved on” from Afghanistan, it means that our agony of defeat there will be far more painful than anything we’ve experienced before. The most frustrating thing is how obvious this catastrophe is: Obama is leading America into a predictable sequel of superpower-loses-in-hellish-Third-World-quagmire: he’s doubling down troops in a war fewer people understand, a war that’s growing increasingly unpopular as the casualty count accelerates; investing more into a corrupt regime which just stole elections in a way that would make the hardliners in neighboring Iran blush; suicide bombers are being directed by the Afghan Defense Ministry to blow up American journalists, leading to a dusty version of the ol’ “who’s in charge here?” “I thought you were”; and now, the American right wing — the only thing that approximates a real opposition this country — is having a collective Walter Cronkite moment, with George Will of all people leading the call for the West to pull its forces out now in order to limit the defeat’s damage. George fucking Will as the conscience of our nation?! This must be what Marx meant by tragedy turning to farce.

And through it all, the Russians must be enjoying America’s decline more than anyone, after all the gloating we did over their downfall: in our two nations’ ongoing Tom & Jerry Show, America’s looming defeat is shaping up to be Russia’s revenge on America’s revenge for what Russia did to America in Vietnam.

Which reminds me of an interview a couple of years ago I did with a former top Soviet advisor to the puppet Afghan government’s General Staff, Pyotr Goncharov. I was still in Moscow then, and I was working on a story to counter the then-popular neocon meme that Iraq wasn’t really the disastrous war that its critics said it was because after all, “only” 4,000 Americans died there. A lot of Russian nationalists still argue that they could have won the war in Afghanistan and that it wasn’t going so badly, given the low body count–and yet the empire collapsed there. I was curious why even a police state like the Soviet Union collapsed, and what lesson America could learn from that.

And this is where it got strange, because the first thing Goncharov said to me when I met him was, “I just want to say to you that what the Americans are doing in Afghanistan is perfect. You’re doing everything right that we did wrong over there. You’re not making any of our mistakes, and with my experience there, I can only commend you.” Goncharov told me he was the top Soviet advisor to the Afghan regime’s joint chiefs of staff from 1986-9, the year of the pullout, and today he is a leading military analyst on Afghanistan issues for state RIA-Novosti. He wasn’t interested in my line of questioning about why low body counts are so devastating to superpowers — instead, all he wanted to talk about was what a great man John McCain is. “Everything he proposes for the war in Afghanistan is exactly right. He really knows what he’s talking about,” Goncharov said. Then his otherwise cheerful face took on a confused almost dour expression: “But I have to ask: is it really possible that Americans will elect Barack Obama? Because this would be a disaster for the world. If Obama is president and he withdraws from Afghanistan, the whole world will pay, much worse than we all paid after the Soviet pullout. It can’t really be possible that Obama will win, could it? I can’t believe America would do that.”

Now we know how it really turned out: Barack Obama won the presidency, but in terms of dealing with Bush’s war legacy it may as well have been McCain. Because Obama’s Afghanistan War policy is indistinguishable from McCain’s, which is why McCain has nothing but good things to say about Obama’s conduct of the war. I always wondered after that interview with Goncharov what his reasoning was for supporting another Republican president, given the disaster America suffered under Bush: did he want America to get sucked into Afghanistan and collapse like his country did, out of vengeful spite? Or was Goncharov being sincere, as I think he was? My guess is that Goncharov really wanted McCain and genuinely liked him, because McCain was someone a military man like Goncharov could understand. And anyway, as intelligent and refined as Goncharov was, he proved what Obama is proving today: we never learn from our mistakes, as much as we pretend we do.

Call it “Afghanistan Syndrome”: Twenty years ago, Afghanistan was Russia’s “Vietnam”; today, Afghanistan is becoming America’s “Afghanistan.” Obama is walking into this disaster like one of the doomed victims from the Scream series: everyone, including the protagonists, knows that it’s going to be a disaster, everyone’s seen the script so many times they can recite it from heart. And yet Obama’s leading the nation into the trap all over again. And Obama can’t even be compared to LBJ, who at least managed to give millions of Americans Medicare. What will Obama’s legacy be? The PPIP program? Protecting AIG’s bonuses?

This article first appeared in AlternetMark Ames is the author of Going Postal, and the co-author of The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia (Grove).

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70 Comments

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  • 1. Karel  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 10:19 am

    3 wars Mark: Pak, Afganistan Iraq

    The empire will fall

  • 2. Concerned Citizen  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Calm down. Breath deeply. The United States is not the Soviet Union–we function relatively well as a democracy, we have strong capitalist institutions, and like it or not we will always have an appetite for killing brown people.

    Granted, the time is appoaching where our little excursion in Afganistan should be coming to a close, much like Iraq. And who can blame us? So long as we secure the natural resources we want from Iraq, and at the very least ensure that Afganistan is friendly to U.S. interests (can anyone honestly say they care if the government is corrupt there) we should be golden.

    Plus, we have other countries to invade to fuel the appetite of the military-industrial complex. I have a few ideas of my own that would benefit our country and at the same time pit our potential adversaries against eachother. For example, why don’t we try to prop India up more as a superpower? Give them nuclear power, let them buy one of our decomissioned supercarriers such as the USS Kitty Hawk (don’t let the Indians buy one from the dirty Russians…their carriers are worthless anyway) and then slowly encourage them to compete for more resources with China and Russia.

    If all goes well, we could hopefully see scenario where the United States can watch from our island fortress as the three potential superpowers eat eachother alive while we sit and laugh.

    Thoughts?

  • 3. Balqis  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 10:47 am

    The only way to get out of a war is to adopt the same means you used to get into it
    That is why Goncharov preferred McCain and why Obama is using the same measures of his predecessor
    But then again, a war is a war
    You never know how it ends

    On the other side, given the situation in northern Caucasus, unfortunately Russia doesn’t have much to enjoy

  • 4. Sin Froneres  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 10:48 am

    this link is all fucked up in the article:
    (I haven’t tried any of the other links)

    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/in_afghanistan_with_the_isaf.html

  • 5. foo  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 11:27 am

    we have strong capitalist institutions, and like it or not we will always have an appetite for killing brown people.

    So why are we killing lily white Afghan people many with red hair and green eyes ?

  • 6. Aaron  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 11:58 am

    “Thoughts?”

    What a clever idea! After all, it’s not like the US has ever had that kind of meddling go wrong.

  • 7. wengler  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    In many ways the Soviet operation was a lot more cut and dry- support a friendly government against a popular insurgency. In the US’s case it is create and support a corrupt government and military and provide some amount of support services(health, education) to pretend you are doing something.

    In practice it’s become the US plus Karzai and allied warlords in the north vesus the Pashtun in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a supply pipeline through Central Asia. So to repeat a war in a landlocked country on the other side of the world with the Russians controlling logistical support.

    Obama’s rhetorical support for Afghanistan is positively Bushian. I guess he has to choose one war to support so the military-industrial complex doesn’t kill him or support a coup against him. We are kind of fucked.

  • 8. Concerned Citizen  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    “What a clever idea! After all, it’s not like the US has ever had that kind of meddling go wrong.”

    Granted we’ve made a few mistakes over the decades after WWII–but this is inevitable with any superpower exercising global reach. But it critical that you recall that we won the greatest conflict in the post WWII–the Cold War–thanks largely in part to fighting the Commies in various Third World shitholes (though we certainly overinvested in Vietnam). Thanks to this policy of containment and keeping the dirty Soviets on their toes, we emerged from the Cold War as victor and global hegemon.

  • 9. alibi  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    @Mark Ames: “- and yet the war in Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet Empire”

    It’s funny how the US are still suffering from the fact that the USSR came up to the point of a collapse and disintegrated without the US even noticing that until it happened. To hide the embarrassment old farts like Brzezinski and co had to come up with the statement that they sure knew it was coming. That they in fact had lured stupid Russians in Afghanistan. And here you go it‘s a scientific fact now – war in Afghanistan indeed turned out to be the disaster that killed that dumb bear. Sure they didn’t bother to get a calculator and punch in the numbers to check. Because if they did they would’ve find out that it was hard to explain how maintaining of 100000 troops in Afghanistan for the USSR which happened to be just across it’s border ruined the economy of the country which had managed to maintain it’s military forces of over 3mil for almost 50 years. Or how 15000 casualties during the 9 years of war turned out to be irretrievable losses for the army which averages more non combatant losses annually. But then who would bother to check. It’s cool to claim that it was a trap that killed the bear than to admit that the bear had died out of internal bleeding caused by a disease called Marxism. Since Marxism moved into the US it’s not cool to draw parallels with a death of an empire and the disease.

  • 10. Sin Froneres  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    @2 “why don’t we try to prop India up more as a superpower? Give them nuclear power, . . .”
    “Thoughts?”

    Brown people been doin’ it for themselves already.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf53.html

  • 11. Sin Froneres  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    @8 “we emerged from the Cold War as victor and global hegemon.”

    How is that working out for you?

  • 12. badnewswade  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for a brilliant article. Myself I’m in two minds, although I admit I really don’t know what I’m talking about and have no power, on the one hand there are still those terrorist fucks out there, on the other hand we don’t seem to be improving things much.

    Basically my uninformed asshole opinion is this: I think we should shit or get off the pot- either depose that corrupt fuck Karzai and run the place directly like a proper colony and give these people some real rights and quit indulging the fucking Taliban, or just get the hell out of there.

  • 13. f  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    It is Chernobyl that killed the USSR.

    The complete mismanagement of communication on the disaster destryed the last shreds of credibility of the government. the people ceased to believe in it and the system collapsed.

  • 14. dom  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Sign up for a tour, especially if you’re a butt-slammer or a cum-cowboy. The party never ends in Kabul and the Green Zone ! You might even get porked by Mr. Big

  • 15. az  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    So I take it the USSR became “diseased with Marxism” around 1965 then eh? And what’s the deal with airline food people who don’t know anything?

  • 16. Anomynous  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    @ 2

    “we have strong capitalist institutions”
    hhhhmmmm…. Our banks our failing and there are more to come. Maybe on capitalistic institutions are so strong. I was just crusing around the hood on a friday and I see lots of people doing garage sales.

    Since the empire is collapsing and our institution failing I say we should collapse peacefully and softly (instead of hitting the wall hard like Russia).

    We should just turn into a garage sale nation and sell our carriers and tanks for billions of dollars a pop to pay off our debts.

    I like your idea about propping up India. We should sell them our food since the US is a world breadbasket and prop them up. Let India and China scrap. Russia likes China, FOR NOW, until Chinese immigrants start flooding their unoccupied eastern territory then they are going to get pissed.

    c’mon people! lets just go back to being the basketcase nation of rejects we were in the 1700′s and 1800′s while China, India, and Russia scrap it out like mafia gangsters.

  • 17. RanDomino  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    No, you’ve all got it wrong. I killed the Soviet Union, with my bare hands. I snuck up behind it and broke its neck Steven Seagal-style. That’s why nobody saw it coming, because I am silent and sneaky like a ninja.

  • 18. penguin  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Would love to hear Gary’s take on this.

  • 19. Realist  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    @ 2

    Russia, China and India and Brazil have aligned their interests in the BRIC configuration. They actually talk to each other and are very much aware of the Brezinsky fantasy of provoking a schoolyard fight. And they wont fall for this “grand chessboard” shit anytime soon.

  • 20. Magni  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Penguin – what makes you think you haven’t?

  • 21. stupidamerican  |  September 4th, 2009 at 12:38 am

    I agree with the above regarding “shit or get off the pot” when it comes to Afghanistan. I also believe that Obama’s plan going into office was to shit, but now he’s realizing just how badly the whole thing was fucked up before he got there.

    if the guy has a sack he’ll draw it up and announce an immediate and full withdrawal from Afghanistan. Fuck it.

    We can use the billions of dollars per year we’re spending on the war to take care of refugees and propagandize the fuck out of the new Taliban government. They’ll fall if we make that level of commitment to undermining them without guns.

    Hey, that’s a great idea, how about we stop selling them guns?

    All the US troops should then be sent home and forced to build high-speed rail and other transportation infrastructure if the US wants to have a future at all.

  • 22. LOLZORG  |  September 4th, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Ames quoting Rupert Murdoch? What is the World coming to?

    @ #3: Russian situation in the North Caucasian Region is bad? Are you fucking kidding me? It’s great! Yeah, people die, welcome to Kavkaz. However, the North Caucasian Region is uniformly behind Russia for the first time since the USSR fell apart. All the KGB has to do is to catch the remnants of the opposition and torture them. And the KGB will love doing it, as that will be sweet revenge for the 1990′s. Seriously kids, stop reading crap about how Kavkaz, or North Caucasian Region is bad for Russia. Ever heard of a plane ticket? Travel there! Or at least look at what Independent Analysts, Truly Independent Analysts are saying!

    @ #2: Look up Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Yeah, they didn’t recognize South Ossetia publically, but tacitly they all marked it as part of Russia. China and Russia won’t fight. Also, look up Indo-Russian relations. And then look up Indo-Chinese Wars. If you still don’t get it, I will spell it out for you: Russia, China and India aren’t going to be fighting each other due to silly Western Provocations.

    Why do you think Georgia invaded De Facto Russian Territorry on the eve of the Chinese Olympics? Why did China make Bush and Putin sit so close together? You don’t think that Russia notified China that Georgia was about to invade? You don’t think China saw that provocation?

    @ #7: well said! Finally someone picked up on the Military Industrial Complex. What was that one quote about the Military Industrial Complex? Google: “Ike + Military Industrial Complex” and the result will surprise many.

    @ 12: well said! Wow, there are intelligent readers here!

    @ 19: fuck you. You beat me to it. But than again you remembered Brazil, so you’re ok :P

    @ 20: Cause the War Nerd knows that unlike Iraq, we have an actual Casus Belli for this war. If Ames isn’t the War Nerd, than in a few weeks or less, we shall hear the War Nerd’s take.

  • 23. Expat in BY  |  September 4th, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Just a minor correction on otherwise good analysis… contractor doesn’t just mean XE types, but also means construction and engineering types to rebuild everything that’s been destroyed in the country.

    Essentially, a construction contractor means a person given a flak jacket and sent with an armed escort to give advice and record everything done wrong by local construction people on a project. When the shooting starts, they aren’t given a weapon of their own, but are merely expected to hide (this is one of the reasons my wife wouldn’t let me go, though the work pays three times my normal salary – if I lived long enough I might have had a chance to make a dent in my student loans).

    In the numbers game, though, if counting weapon-toters means anything, the European contingent probably brings the armed forces numbers fairly close to Soviet levels. Not quite there, but close.

  • 24. Concerned Citizen  |  September 4th, 2009 at 8:14 am

    @19

    A few points of correction are needed. First of all, China is in a league of it’s own when considering the BRIC formation–they’re the only ones that really matter in that young and fragile alliance (Russia has some clout too, but China has the major power in terms of market share). Thus, if we can destabilize China over the long-term (which we might not even have to do, given the unrest there)it stands that the entire alliance will fall apart.

    Even more important is the consideration of natural resources. You and all the other “American Doomsday-er” types assume that the growth these emerging countries are experiencing will continue. Not true. Have any of you clowns been paying ANY attention to the news over the past decade? At this point it’s actually more likely than not that conflicts will erupt between China-India-Russia given their close proximity as they fight like dogs over shortages of petro, natural gas, water (particularly India as the Himalayan glaciers melt at an ever increasing rate).

    I can’t wait for this kind of shit to hit the fan. Americans can sit back, prop up some insurgency where it need be as we did in the good ol’ days of the Cold War and watch them fight like fucking animals over a carcass.

  • 25. Realist  |  September 4th, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    …Destabilise China over the long term…

    Man I am glad to be a concerned citizen of a rich, yet insignificant nation in Europe. And while I drink my evening cognac it is my hope that you feel comfortable in your increasingly totalitarian mess.

    Happy days.

  • 26. Allen  |  September 4th, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    The U.S. will eventually collapse, of course — and probably a lot sooner than people think, but not as soon as the catastrophists like to dream. As for Afghanistan, at some point the War will just end. It will end without the Afghans having inflicted as many casualties on the U.S. as they did the Soviets due to the lack of a major superpower backer and America’s expensive, avoid casualties, way of fighting.

    The war bill will be huge and lumped onto U.S.’s national debt to be forgotten about until the inevitable time when searingly deep cuts are made to not only all social programs but even the bloated military and intelligence industry itself. (The former being the true secret heart of American make work welfare socialism). There will be a lot of unrest probably, but not fracture — not yet.

    What will happen to Afghanistan when the U.S. withdraws? It will probably mean decades of instability; the Taliban may or may not one day return to power, probably under a different name. People will spin it as either defeat or victory depending; it will most likely be a big ambiguous mess.

    Not Vietnam syndrome, in the sense of a collective feeling of defeat, just a big bitter confusion … probably followed by a sensible aversion to poorly conceived, gigantic, decade+ long, foreign policy projects in the future.

    The American Right’s Culture War on truth machine really will have to froth into overdrive to push America into some kind of new even bigger catastrophe after that … and I should say that I’m not discounting that possibility either.

  • 27. motorfirebox  |  September 4th, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    a bit of nitpicking: there are not more Americans fighting in Afghanistan than there were Soviet troops. the number of troops and contractors do add up to more than the Soviet troop total–but 75% of the contractors are Afghani.

    that said, good article. and, hell, once the additional troops are brought in, the number of Americans will almost certainly top the Soviet troop total.

  • 28. LOLZORG  |  September 4th, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Concerned Citizen – you’re an idiot. India going to war with China after they were trashed in a war twice, and with an ever-dangerous, yet easily defeatable Pakistan? Russia going to war with China? Russia running out of natural resources? Seriously? You do provide good laughs though. Apparently China is supposed to forget the “Open Door Policy”, aka the “everyone rape China, it’s opne season” policy.

    Also, close proximity means war? So when is the US invading Canada/Mexico? I mean if proximity means war…. And Canada has natural resources.

    The reason that it worked for the Europeans is lack of education. When the Europeans tried to imperialize educated countries, they failed, because educated countries knew what’s coming. However going after African tribes with no military tactics, that’s easy!

    America today cannot become Europe of 1800′s, as the Neocons dream, for the simple reason that education is prevalent, and most countries remember Imperialism’s past too well to let it happen on their soil. If you don’t believe me, check out Yushenko’s approval rating. Or take a look at the resistance of the Latin American countries to a 1970′s style coup. In the 1970′s, Micheletti would’ve been praised, today we all know him for what he is, a power-grabbing elitist scum. And he’s got no support either.

    If America cannot even act on the coup in a tiny Latin American country, what can America act on? That’s like saying “we cannot handle Iraq and Afghanistan combined, let’s invade Russia, cause the latter dared to defend themselves against Georgia!”

  • 29. Zhu Bajie  |  September 5th, 2009 at 1:42 am

    “Russia likes China, FOR NOW, until Chinese immigrants start flooding their unoccupied eastern territory then they are going to get pissed.”

    No one in China wants to go live in Siberia. The Siberians come to China to shop, maybe stay for the superior quality of life!

    Zhu Bajie

  • 30. Concerned Citizen  |  September 5th, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Sickening. I’ll never understand the majority of my fellow Americans–a bunch of isolationists who want to see our democratic empire collapse. Despicable. You want to go even further even the rejection of global domination–no, you want to see us submit before international institutions and the will of the IR community.

    Henry Luce is likely rolling over in his grave. It seems that the majority of Americans remain, as he put it, “unable to accommodate themselves spiritually and practically” to empire. If you and your ilk got your way, the new American century may indeed be as short as you predict.

    But I digress. Those in Washington–including your supposed agent of change Obama–will not willingly dismantle the empire. We will not go down without a fight, if it so needs be.

    And calm down about China, for Godssake. We are unrivaled in our infrastructure of a high-tech driven economy. We attract the best human talent. And our technological advantages are constantly being melded into our military might, which is already the greatest the world has even seen.

    And don’t take our power for granted. For instance, the growth of the BRIC formation is likely to intensify competition with the U.S and EU and could lead to a new cold war, complete with proxy wars and another arms race (in reality this actually may be just what we need to get us out of our slumber…the Cold War kept us on our game and spurred much innovation).

    In my ideal world, I would hope that antimissile technology improves to the point that Mutually Assured Destruction is no longer guaranteed. Oh! imagine the possibilities then! Instead of countries pussying around all the time, we could actually get our hands dirty and get back to what we do best–proxy wars in third-world shitholes.

    On a final note, hypothetically imagine China replaces the United States as global hegemon. It’s lack of democratic institutions, a human rights record that the Soviet Union would be proud of, and willingness to work with the world’s most deplorable regimes should give pause to those who hope for the end of American hegemony.

  • 31. playin' risk  |  September 5th, 2009 at 10:54 am

    sweet lord concerned citizen,

    just how dumb are you? mark ames cited the similarities between the 1980s soviet occupation of afghanistan, and the present day one led by the US.

    from a purely financial perspective, these otherwise frivolous military adventures are huge drain on money. it led to the downfall of the roman empire, the soviets, and now we’re headed for it. other more mainstream historians like chalmers johnson have written very similar things.

    then you came along with these idiotic boardgame scenarios about the russians, chinese, and indians waging endless wars with each other, with american superiority and exceptionalism continuing unabated.

    one, they’re not fighting each other.

    two, even if they were, how does that justify our afghan adventures?

  • 32. playin' risk  |  September 5th, 2009 at 11:03 am

    testing

  • 33. Concerned Citizen  |  September 5th, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    @31

    I think you need to check out some of the relevant statistics before you compare our country to the Soviet Union in regard to our military excursions being “a huge drain of money.” Specifically, please review the military expenditure as a percentage of GDP.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

    You likely will be surprised that the United States spends comparatively less than other less developed countries annually because we already have a strong modernized military built up over the past few decades. So this isn’t so much an issue of whether we can afford the activities rather than a question of priorities.

    Which leads me to your second question: even if they were, how does that justify our afghan adventures?

    The simplest explanation would be we do it because we can–in our sick world, the powerful make way for the weak. That being said, I’m not satisfied the way we’ve been handling Iraq and Afganistan. Human rights and democracy are academic and theoretical, particularly in these shitholes. It would be far better to install a puppet regime (cleverly disguised, of course) that helps us meet our needs. I think we should only have perhaps 20 to 30 thousand troops in each country, and have most of the other empire-building work done via our aircraft carriers that can bomb away to their hearts content and expeditionary forces found on our various bases across the region.

    The Middle East is simply too important strategically to forfeit to the interests of the BRIC formation. If you had any sensibilities you would realize this.

  • 34. LOLZORG  |  September 5th, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    American military might is something like the World has never seen before? Oh puh-lease. Just cause US Navy is #1, doesn’t mean that America’s military might is as Godly as you make it. The US-trained army in Georgia got their butts kicked by the Russians so badly, that they set the record for the Tskhinvali-Tbilisi race. The US-equipped Israeli army got their asses handed to them by Hezbollah. Read the War Nerd’s excellent article on that. The NATO troops couldn’t even take on little Serbia, and had to bomb it into submission.

    Sure US trained armies do wonders against Hamas, Hussein’s ragtag army, that cannot even take out the Kurds, something the Turks do for fun, without the use of chemical weapons. But when coming up against a real, well-trained fighting force, the Imperialist Army fails.

    All empires fail. All empires fall. Those who want to turn America into an Empire, are no more than losers who couldn’t get laid, and have delusion of grandeur, while in reality, they’re speeding up America’s destruction, which is by no means inevitable. Name a single empire that didn’t fall? American Empire began in 1898, with the Maine. Remember the Maine? Remember the Yellow Journalism?

    How’s the Carthaginian Empire doing? The Roman Empire? The Persian Empire? The Ottoman Empire? The Russian Empire? The French Empire? The German Empire? The British Empire? The Spanish Empire? The Mongol Empire? The Holy Roman Empire? Want me to keep going?

  • 35. LOLZORG  |  September 5th, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Zhu Bajie – All five of them? Sorry, but I am an ace in geography. I know that Siberia is sparsely populated, and that the people who didn’t leave Siberia in the 1990′s won’t leave it today. Now I know there’s a reason that it’s sparsely populated, so you may be right about the Chinese, I don’t know, I’d have to visit it, but I don’t buy the “Siberians are emigrating to China” story. At least not in numbers significant enough to make a difference in either place.

  • 36. Concerned Citizen  |  September 5th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    @34

    “US-trained army in Georgia got their butts kicked by the Russians so badly, that they set the record for the Tskhinvali-Tbilisi race.”

    If I recall correctly, our annual investments in the region are minimal at best. A few dozen military specialists go there annually, and we allegedly supply them with some arms and ammunition. It was by no means a full-blown effort…kind of just like, what the hell, why not put a bit of pressure on Russia and make them lose face in the global arena when they responded with disproportionate force.

    “the US-equipped Israeli army got their asses handed to them by Hezbollah.”

    LOLLOLOL–are you seriously questioning the superiority of Israels military? They have the finest in the region and the historical record proves it. Just in case you’re as dumb as you sound, here are a few prime examples: the six day war (where the jews were outnumbered by a substantial margin and yet GAINED territory) and the 2006 Israeli incursion into Lebanon where they effectively pounded the enemy into submission (please review more examples if you’re not convinced).

    Sure, all empires fail. Everything passes. All turns to dust. So what? Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our run while we’re at it. Lighten up. Have some fun. Let’s go bomb some people. You only live once.

  • 37. P.M.Lawrence  |  September 5th, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    LOLZORG wrote “The reason that it worked for the Europeans is lack of education. When the Europeans tried to imperialize educated countries, they failed, because educated countries knew what’s coming.”

    India and Burma? The East Indies? Madagascar (the ruling class was educated)? Poland? Hungary? Bohemia and Moravia? Norway? Ireland (for centuries)? Schleswig-Holstein (one part by Denmark, then the other by Germany)? Alsace-Lorraine and other of Louis XIV’s and his predecessors’ gains?

    All these were educated and were successfully ruled imperially.

  • 38. Christo  |  September 5th, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    “We suffered then from “Vietnam Syndrome,” which was a strange way of assigning a mental illness to a totally rational aversion to invading far-away countries.”

    Brilliant!

  • 39. LOLZORG  |  September 5th, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    After looking at military expenditures: World (total): 1.4 trillion. US is 635 billion, EU, (combined) is 312 billion, Russia, China, India and Brazil (combined) is 165 billion. US, vs. EU and BRIC is still 635 billion vs. 477 billion.

    So keeping in mind that the US spends more than the EU and BRIC combined, I will quote concerned citizen: “You likely will be surprised that the United States spends comparatively less than other less developed countries annually because we already have a strong modernized military built up over the past few decades. So this isn’t so much an issue of whether we can afford the activities rather than a question of priorities.”

    In other words, 635 billion is less than 477 billion. Ahhh Conservative math, it’s how Bush got elected in Florida.

    Like I said concerned citizen, thank you for providing the LOLZORG, please keep posting!

  • 40. playin' risk  |  September 6th, 2009 at 12:26 am

    “we do it because we can”

    we can always do it. but we pay for it. we defer the costs by borrowing or simply concealing the costs, but the bills still eventually become due, and unless you’ve been living in an igloo, we’re pretty much broke already. we can also build skyscrapers out of popsicle sticks. just because we can, it doesn’t mean we should.

    you’re just parroting the mindset of the now discredited neocon community. you can justify it with your endless rebuttals to a mostly skeptical audience, but it still doesn’t bolster your argument. the neocons at least were motivated by their contributions from the military industrial/petroleum complex and the zionist/jesus freaks for zionist crowds. i’m not sure why you’re spewing these otherwise irrational arguments. maybe you just want to live vicariously through the perceived alpha male dominance of the US over the supposedly backward afghanis and the doomed BRIC challengers? but that’s a story you’ll have to explain to the psychiatrist.

    re: chinese and siberians. i have seen russians in china and chinese in russia. the chinese are generally small time retailers in russia, while russians come to china for consumer goods.

  • 41. Oscar Z  |  September 6th, 2009 at 8:45 am

    “Endless money forms the sinews of war” -Cicero

    For some reason most people can’t grasp that war needs money, shit loads of it. America’s power is derived from its monetary hegemony, which is almost a memory.

  • 42. Nico  |  September 6th, 2009 at 9:19 am

    “strong capitalist institutions”?

    Like General Motors, Lehman Brothers, AIG…etc.?

    Please carry on, you are making my day!

  • 43. ohok  |  September 6th, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Using the Sun as a reference source? Come on Mark, you can do better than that.

  • 44. chugs  |  September 6th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    So what did the author ask?

    1. US personal (both military and contract) now exceeds that of the USSR
    2. That Afghanistan is at risk of being a quagmire like Vietnam.

    A few points in response

    1. So what does it matter that the US has lots of people fighting its war? Yes of course they’re going to lie, confuse and misreport. Its behaviour in this aspect is neither unsurprising nor is a bad one. As a military strategy I don’t think you could ever argue that too many soldiers is a bad thing (as long as you can supply em).

    2. Who says Vietnam was quagmire? As a action sure they lost the battle but they hardly lost the bigger war (i.e. the one with the USSR). Vietnam, and for that matter the Korean war, sapped huge quantities of life, resources from China and the USSR. In that context it really did succeed at stopping the rest of Asia from falling to the communist threat. Sure they lost a bit of land and 50,000 lives (to the 4 million they killed) but what’s that to losing 1/3 of the planet?

    3. Thus why are they bothering to fight. Afghanistan has two things. Access to Oil and Heroin.

    4. Heroin accounts for most of the $500 billion drug trade.

    In a global economy sucked dry of liquidity the global drug trade, a cash business, is critical in providing that liquidity. Even before the crash when credit was washing free there was still a need for this incredibly powerful pool of liquidity. This money does have to enter the system in one way or another. If it was isolated from the system it could in fact cause it to collapse.

    5. Oil of course does not need to be talked of on this site as we all should know that oil is the essence of all things in this existence of ours. its importance more then justifies war and death.

    Unless of course you want to die a horrible death of starvation and poverty. (which is what will happen when we no longer have access to inorganic industrial fertilisers)

    4. Regardless of who did Septemeber 11, the policy response of invading a country seems a bit excessive. Perhaps a few tomahawk missiles but invasion? The US were committed to an action in Afghanistan, even if Sep 11, didn’t occur. The Caspian sea oil pipeline, the smack, the Pakistan situation ultimately required the US not only to secure their own interests but to be in a position to project power across all of central Asia.

    5. As a result Central Asia has become a critical theatre to the US, just in the same way that South East Asia was to the US from 1940s onwards. As is the case in the example the US may downgrade their activities but they will never leave. Having contractors in place to fight a proxy war is no different to using US Corporations to use commercial power as a policy instrument.

    If you want to argue morality then do so but arguing that the industrial military complex doesn’t know how to fight war is a bit silly.

    Sure the cost is our own lives and morality but when they did ever give a shit but us (and isn’t that problem?)

  • 45. Esn  |  September 6th, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    @Concerned Citizen:

    It is funny how the United States is the bastion of freedom, yet has over five times as many people in jail per capita as China, and the highest overall # of prisoners in the world. A bit of a disconnect that will doubtless be glossed over by some conveniently convoluted rationalizations.

  • 46. Concerned Citizen  |  September 6th, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    @39

    You wrote: In other words, 635 billion is less than 477 billion. Ahhh Conservative math, it’s how Bush got elected in Florida.

    Did you just completely disregard what I wrote? AS A PERCENTAGE OF GDP THE UNITED STATES SPENDS COMPARATIVELY FAR LESS THAN A LARGE NUMBER OF COUNTRIES. Our military expenditures are really not that high in comparison to the overall size of our economy.

    @40

    You wrote: you’re just parroting the mindset of the now discredited neocon community.

    Hardly. I voted for Obama under the assumption that he would manage our empire with greater care than the Neocons. I acknowledge that he is making a few mistakes–particularly in regard to escalating troops in Afghanistan when we’d be better off bombing them into submission via a carrier group while letting that corrupt fuck Karzai do whatever he wants so long as it doesn’t interfere with the several thousand troops we’ll have strategically placed there in bases across the country. However, Obama deserves praise for: pushing for bases on Columbia to put pressure on the socialist menace, helping our world image (largely symbolically, with no real effects on our global reach)by condemning torture, and finally continuing the use of Predator drones in the Af-Pak region.

    Once again, I will ask. Is it for moral reasons that you all oppose empire? It’s largely thanks to the blood that we have spilled over the past half-century that most Americans are able to live their current lifestyles. Would you enjoy the Chinese or Russians having a sphere of influence in the Americas (the Russians are already doing this in Brazil and Venezuela). For example, imagine that instead of the US propping up Georgia next to Russia, Russia and/or China made Mexico into a proxy. I think you wouldn’t be so keen on the loss of empire.

    At this point we’ve gone too far and made too many enemies. If we let our guard down someone will take a stab at us. And you all should be rightfully scared of a world in which the Chinese and other ilk exercise greater power.

  • 47. playin' risk  |  September 7th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    so concerned citizen, do you have OCD or something? how do you type out repetitive and long winded responses, without actually addressing the points others make?

    if i wanted to hear glenn beck’s opinion, i’d be watching any number of corporate media shows. you’re just a waste of time.

  • 48. LOLZORG  |  September 7th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    “If I recall correctly, our annual investments in the region are minimal at best. A few dozen military specialists go there annually, and we allegedly supply them with some arms and ammunition.”

    So warships delivering a billion dollars of aid is “minimal at best”? Wow, a billion dollars, “minimal at best”. In addition the US Government confirmed that US had 70 military trainers in Georgia. What were the trainers doing? Drinking red wine and eating Kabob?

    Also, I recall Russians capturing US military equiptment in Georgia. “There were 1,728 weapons total.” http://www.infowars.com/russia-seizes-arsenal-of-us-weapons-in-georgia/

    I seem to recall a Bush yelling “give us our jeeps back!” Finally, if the US didn’t actually train the Georgians, I’m sure you won’t mind Russia sharing the training manuals they captured, with say, Iran. I mean they can easily do so.

    Israel lost the 2006 Lebanon War: http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=8282&IBLOCK_ID=35

    You seem to forget which site you are on. People here aren’t brainwashed by corporation. “I took a lot of heat for that, but now, when you look through the smoking ruins of Northern Israel and Southern Lebanon, you see two things: the yellow Hezzie flag flying high, and the fat face of your favorite War Nerd sticking his tongue out at all the better-paid pundits who got it wrong as usual.”

    But concerned citizen doesn’t care about logic, he makes a statement, that we’re all supposed to accept as a fact, and if we don’t, he gets angry and will type in ALL CAPS, anyways here’s his bullshit: “the 2006 Israeli incursion into Lebanon where they effectively pounded the enemy into submission (please review more examples if you’re not convinced).” Ohh yeah, those Hezbollah boys were pounded into submission, so much so, that they made Israel withdraw.

    @37: The Indian tribal leaders were educated? Oh that’s right, they were educated in Britain, to be loyal to Britain! When I said the people of today are educated, I meant educated, not brainwashed.

    @46: actually you didn’t use the word percentages. But let’s look at percentages: US is 27th out of 174. In other words, your argument is a lie again. In addition: US GDP as percentage of the World’s is: 23 percent. US military expenditure as percentage of the World’s is: 46 percent. Either way you work the numbers, you’re a complete, brainwashed moron, of the military industrial complex, not a concerned citizen.

    And if you want to “have fun” in other countries – why don’t you volunteer for Afghanistan? Go and “have fun”

  • 49. LOLZORG  |  September 7th, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    @44: usually if you see this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 5, – you know it’s someone educated by Fox News, who will later claim he doesn’t watch Fox News.

    Now to address the relevant points:

    “Who says Vietnam was quagmire? As a action sure they lost the battle but they hardly lost the bigger war (i.e. the one with the USSR). Vietnam, and for that matter the Korean war, sapped huge quantities of life, resources from China and the USSR. In that context it really did succeed at stopping the rest of Asia from falling to the communist threat. Sure they lost a bit of land and 50,000 lives (to the 4 million they killed) but what’s that to losing 1/3 of the planet? ”

    Vietnam sapped huge quantities of life from USSR and China. LOLZORG! Ohhh, snap! Ohhh, good one! Newsflash: USSR and China fought in Vietnam what may be called a proxy war. US lost to little Vietnam. The Vietnam War didn’t prevent Asia from “falling to Communism” – that’s a myth. Most of those regimes were non-Communist to begin with. How is losing 50,000 Americans and losing to a tiny country, help the US in the Cold War?

    “4. Heroin accounts for most of the $500 billion drug trade.”

    Now tell me, you aren’t going to suggest that US becomes heroin runners. Oh wait, you do! Ahh the desperation, Neocons getting drugs to help them survive, like niggers on the street. Man, am I going to enjoy watching this downfall.

    “5. Oil of course does not need to be talked of on this site as we all should know that oil is the essence of all things in this existence of ours. its importance more then justifies war and death.”

    Actually no. I am surviving just fine without oil. My house is powered by solar power, I drive a tricked out electric car, (that goes “slightly above 80″) and I sell some of the power back to the state. Also, have you heard, there’s this city called Palm Springs; it’s run entirely by Wind Power. So in essence, we don’t need oil to survive, as solar power is cheaper, (over a time span of 100 years) and more efficient.

    “The Caspian sea oil pipeline” – how does this relate to Afghanistan? Is failing geography a new requirement to join your movement?

    “5. As a result Central Asia has become a critical theatre to the US, just in the same way that South East Asia was to the US from 1940s onwards. As is the case in the example the US may downgrade their activities but they will never leave. Having contractors in place to fight a proxy war is no different to using US Corporations to use commercial power as a policy instrument.”

    Ever heard of Shaghai Cooperation Organization? US has no influence in Central Asia. America is allowed to lease a base for no more than a year, at a huge price tag. The lease has to be renewed every year. So if US Corporations play naughty, base goes bye-bye next year. And US Corporate property gets nationalized. The SCO countries will defend each other in the event of a US attack. South East Asia wasn’t unified, Central Asia is. I think this graph represents respect towards the US rather well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:United_Nations_General_Assembly_vote_on_resolution_A63L.2.PNG

    Oh, and the fun thing: initially it was 120, but only 77 states voted in favor, because the other 43 were absent. See all those states in gray? Those are states that would’ve voted for it, but were absent.

    Did you morons ever think that dropping bombs on people’s heads might not have the effect of being greeted as a liberator? If someone dropped a bomb that killed my family, I’d reach for my gun and show ‘em what I kin do.

    Lastle, I want to quote Christo, cause I think he hits it dead on:

    ““We suffered then from “Vietnam Syndrome,” which was a strange way of assigning a mental illness to a totally rational aversion to invading far-away countries.”

    Brilliant!”

    In other words, we rationalized fucking our servicemen and other countries, by segregating our servicemen who fought in other countries and came back with a reaction the corporations didn’t like, we rationalized it by calling them mentally ill. If that’s not truly fucked up, I don’t know what is.

  • 50. Concerned Citizen  |  September 7th, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    @48-49

    “Ever heard of Shaghai Cooperation Organization? US has no influence in Central Asia.”

    You claim that the United States has no influence in Central Asia. What an outrageous and completely unsubstantiated argument.

    Over 100,000 thousand military personal/contractors each in both Iraq and Afganistan constitute “no influence” in your demented world? (And yes, we all know Iraq isn’t in Central Asia proper but it certainly is close enough for strategic purposes)

    A brand-spanking new embassy in Iraq which is both the largest and the most expensive in the world constitutes no influence?

    The U.S. military base that were established in Kyrgyzstan, which was recently attempted to be bought out by the Russians in a failed and desperate attempt to remove our presence? This to you means no influence?

    The color revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, which removed leaders who favored the Russians, have put those former Soviet Bloc countries into our hands. Russia is right view the U.S. presence in post-Soviet states with suspicion, as is Beijing as it realizes U.S. forces along its western border are part of Washington’s grand strategy to contain the silly commies.

  • 51. Realpolitik  |  September 7th, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    We all need to get some perspective on the future of the American Empire. The United States is still the world’s most powerful country by all accounts and it is systemically connected to the global economy in ways far more since the 1970s than in the previous period.

    The United States still uses 1/4 percent of the world’s energy alone, produces 25 to 30 percent of the world’s GDP, and is the third largest country by both geographical size and population. Oh, and it’s military spending is larger than the next twenty countries combined.

    Think about that. If you’re in America you should be proud. You’re literally living in a modern-day Roman Empire. You–yes you, American citizens–are the taxpayers and supporters of this magnificent democratic empire that will be spoken about long after you are gone. You support our ten carrier groups that project our power across the globe. You help maintain our strategic and tactical nuclear arsenal of 10,00 active, inactive and reserved weapons. Hell, thanks to you in 2008 we exported 2/3 of all foreign arms.

    It almost makes you want to cry and such awesome power. The beauty of our strength is not so much fighting, nor conquering, but training indigenous forces to project power on their own, in which they either rightly or falsly believe they are protecting themselves while simultaneously securing our interests. While Afganistan and Iraq are two recent exceptions, take a a good look around the world and you’ll see we’re still utilizing this proven model in numerous countries such as Columbia, Israel, Chile, Egypt, Pakistan, and Jordan just to name a few of our allies.

  • 52. LOLZORG  |  September 7th, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Wow, Concerned Citizen, you are a moron. I was talking about four of the five Stans, Russia and China, that’s why I specifically mentioned the SCO. Take a look who takes part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. I wasn’t talking about Afghanistan and Iraq, and, Iraq isn’t even in Central Asia. It’s the Middle East. Learn basic geography, then comeback. And what I said was, and I stand by this, the US has no power in Central Asia, in the SCO countries.

    Now if you are going to bullshit and say that Iraq has moved from the Middle East to Central Asia, then there really is no counter-argument, other than to say that you are a moron who knows nothing about georgraphy.

    As for the base in Kyrgyzstan, I’ve already addressed this: “America is allowed to lease a base for no more than a year, at a huge price tag. The lease has to be renewed every year. So if US Corporations play naughty, base goes bye-bye next year. And US Corporate property gets nationalized. The SCO countries will defend each other in the event of a US attack.” Reading is wonderful, you should try it sometime Concerned Citizen.

    The Color Revolutions? They played right into the hands of Russia. With the Color Revolutions the US discredited its image as a bringer of Democracy, because if an election was to be held today, Saakashvili and Yushenko would lose so badly, that Obama routing McCain would look like a close race by comparison. As for Kyrgyzstan, it’s leader is doing everything Russia wants; if you noticed the “Russian protest” against the US base, you would see that the “protestors” couldn’t keep a straight face. “Silly Yanquis, paying triple the rate, only to get kicked out in a year, unless they behave, and than we’ll get Kyrgyzstan to triple the price again.”

    @51: Israel is more of a pain in the ass, than an ally. Columbia cannot even deal with FARK, and the base deal has been heavily criticized by other Latin American countries. Egypt? What’s Egypt’s war record? They can barely keep the Muslim Brotherhood in check. Pakistan? You mean the people who have Al Qaeda to the North and India to the East? Pakistan, like Israel, is more of a pain in the ass than an ally. Chile and Jordan? That’s the best you can do? With the countries you presented, it’s pretty damn clear who is going to be doing most of the fighting.

    And your Imperialist Stats are impressive. But that takes money. As you have addmitted, the US is responsible for a fourth of the World’s GDP and a half of the World’s military expenditure, (roughly rounded off). That means US is overpaying to keep its Empire. You cannot use a widget to produce both guns and butter, you can produce either guns or butter. In other words, money spent on empire-building cannot be spent at home.

    So let me give you some stats on how America is doing at home: Half of America’s schools are failing. There’s an unstoppable flow of immigrants coming in, that don’t want to learn Ingles (English). For those that do, the price for learning Ingles (English) is too high. The US has 40 million people living in poverty, out of 300 million. The US has so much jail population, that rehabilitation programs no longer function. In other words, in jail criminals become hardened and wiser criminals, and are then released.

    A single earthquake can destroy California’s infrastucture that will take at least two weeks to repair, immobilizing the entire state. California is issuing IOUs, because no one will even lend money to California. Look what a single hurricane, Katrina, did to New Orleans!

    Most Americans are overweight. The military is begining to let in recruits that cannot properly fight due to low IQ or low physical capabilities. Criminals are recruited to join the army.

    Here are some more statistics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMzIlCHWd7I

    50% of Americans cannot read well enough to find a single fact of evidence in a short publication. I’ve got a feeling that includes Concerned Citizen. 61 percent of Americans believe that Genesis is LITERALLY TRUE!!! (Not that it’s true, but the timeline was used metaphorically, but that it’s literally true!) 50% of high seniors think Soddom and Gomorrah were married. 11% of young Americans cannot find the US on the map of the World. 69% couldn’t find England.

    20% of Americans believe the Sun orbits the Earth. 51% of all professional engineers in the US are foreign born, as are 45% of all professional computer scientists. Only 1 in 4 Americans could name one of the five freedoms list in the First Amendment. One in five thought that one of the freedoms was “the right to own a pet”.

    So while you speak of those fancy carrier groups, keep in mind that you’re sacrificing America’s education, healthcare and well being for them and that countries with an uneducated population, especially empires with an uneducated population, easily collapse: see Russian, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires for the most recent examples. And remember, empires don’t get conquered, they fall apart from within….

  • 53. Jacob  |  September 7th, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Indeed, the war in Afghanistan did not kill the Soviet Union. In fact, the collapse of the Soviet Union had little to do with the economic waste coming from the arms race or specific “projects” like the wars like in Afghanistan or the Buran program (Soviet space shuttle program).

    The first reason for collapse was the free speech and nationalism that were unleashed by Gorbachev’s reforms. The second reason is for the Soviet leadership simply did not have the guts to crack down on those centrifugal forces.

    Gorbachev simply did not understand the force of nationalism that could be unleashed with free speech, and once it was unleashed he and the people around him had no guts to put an end to it by sending some troops to crack down on the rebel republics.

  • 54. fajensen  |  September 8th, 2009 at 6:44 am

    I can’t wait for this kind of shit to hit the fan. Americans can sit back, prop up some insurgency where it need be as we did in the good ol’ days of the Cold War and watch them fight like fucking animals over a carcass

    Not for long though:

    You See, when WallMart runs out of Chinese manufactured shit for the ‘merikans to bloat themselves with we will see thousands of desperate A-Merican fatties and stupid security goons killing each other for scraps – haitian style.

    I would soo love it! Imagine them go!!

  • 55. Realist  |  September 8th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    @ 54

    Exactly! And all the gooks have to do is to sell their dollar reserves / no longer finance the US trade deficit. They can wreck the US economy with a keystroke. And Brezinski, Kissinger & Associates would sell tacos to DC tourists.

  • 56. Concerned Citizen  |  September 8th, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    So long as we continue to bomb brown people the US economy will do OK.

    The bombing of brown people would put a myriad Americans back to work and make them happy because they would be serving their country. Americans wouldn’t give a shit about what they’d be doing in a moral or ethical sense, cause “it’s a job, dude,” and that’s all that matters to these peasants. I would argue that instead of two active wars, why not 5 or 6? We don’t have to even really occupy these shitholes, pounding them is good enough for our jobs.

  • 57. Realist  |  September 8th, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    The Keynesian speaks. So bombing wedding parties all over the word is in fact a domestic make-work program by the government to keep the rural trash from endulging their meth habits. After all, it contributes to GDP, just like Katrina did. Evidently, as the narrative goes, the “big one” got us out of the depression.

    So net wealth destruction on both sides somehow, by virtue of the magical multiplicator, produces domestic bliss. Just as the printing of greenbacks does. Got it. So why do living standards stagnate or drop again?

    And to think all those dumb Chinese and Europeans invest in infrastructure…

  • 58. fajensen  |  September 9th, 2009 at 4:38 am

    A brand-spanking new embassy in Iraq which is both the largest and the most expensive in the world constitutes no influence?

    Nope – Blowing trillions on building and re-building the largest target in the world for rocket and mortar fire is at best funny.

  • 59. LOLZORG  |  September 10th, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Concerned Citizen, can you explain to me how burning money is going to make the US treasury work? When you spend money on making the bomb, and than you drop said bomb on an undeserving country, you have, in essence, wasted all the money and labor that went towards the production of that bomb. In essence, you are burning money. How the fuck is burning taxpayer dollars good for the economy?

  • 60. US Contractor  |  September 10th, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Ok this article is just wrong, the total number f US forces is not anywhere near 120,000. US forces is US military period. I lived and worked in Ahghanistan for 2 years, yes some “contractors” are doing covert ops and combat, but that number is relatively low compared to the number of contractors in Afghanistan. Most of us do jobs ranging from cooking to running training facilites(like Myself) I have never once been in combat and i know, just personally, hundereds and hundreds of contractors that won’t see any fighting. So the statement that we have more troops then the soviets is just bogus sorry.

    Now for all the people who sit on their high horse and talk about what they think they know here, have any of you lived worked among the afghan people??? If so that number is very very low. Well i have and yes there is some bad things going on, its a freaking war in case some of you forgot that. I have seen the improvements in infrastructure, schools, housing, roads, and quality of life for a lot of afghans. They are(for the most part) good people who just want a better life who deos’nt?

    As for the dumb fuck who said we (American’s) have always had the appettite to kill brown people, get your head out of fox news and get with it moron, most of us, at least the ones with free thinking brains don’t wanna kill anyone. We wanna protect our interests and help people across the world. Now sometimes its just not pretty to acheive those goals and well thats the world we live in its not all roses and lollipops, i’ve seen awful things here, death, destruction hell kids with their arms blowm off from american bombs. Like i said its war but ideally we are trying to do whats right,and yes along with whats in our best intrests.
    So argue all you want people it only fules the fire of hate. In the end you gotta do what you have to and strive to do the right thing. Which granted the US has not always done,but fuckin a we try! Any other country wanna step up and fill our shoes? I doubt it. Good luck to us all

  • 61. US Contractor  |  September 10th, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Hey LOLZORG,

    Have to admit you have some valid comments there without a doubt. I won’t even beging to start a discussion on those subjects.
    I don’t know where your from and it does not really matter to me, just a point of fact quickly i do not live nor work in the US, although i work for a US company.
    Ok now and i am not arguing i really wanna know your opinion and hell everyones, if all thats true, how are we still the most influential and powerful country on the earth if we are in such bad shape? Why is it, if we are so hated and so stupid and looked down upon, that every country i travel to i see american movies, fashions, hear american music and see heavy western influences and everyone knows whats going on in our country. Explain this to me please. Maybe its not us but humanity that has the faults? Please i want to know. For all of our faults we still have the basic principles that cannot be denied and i feel that the rest of the world, secretly or openly, envys us. Am i wrong?

  • 62. sidekickinthebutt  |  September 13th, 2009 at 10:56 am

    @61

    “Am I wrong?”

    You are.

    America isn’t impressive at all in music (by which I assume pops/rock) if you consider Brits. Their country is nowhere near as influential or resource-rich as America anymore, yet their success in that department is pretty much comparable to that of America.

    And English was already the international language when America truly became the super power. Lucky.

    American movies, yeah, that’s the most important thing about America. Hollywood was always even more important than US Navy and Marines combined. But then America != Hollywood. Not anymore anyway. Hollywood is Hollywood, something that even transcends the US. You may not believe it, but Hollywood can survive without the US.

    “Everyone knows what’s going on in our country” – well, you are a tad exaggerating there, but in any event, that’s certainly not because they “envy” you.

    This “envy” stuff to which a certain type of Americans for some reason cling is almost pathological, and I suppose purely psychological: just the other side of a certain type of complex. Or total lack of imagination.

    It’s not “envy.” You probably don’t even know the definition of the word. Sure, many may “envy” those who have good jobs in the US, and that completely depends on the US economy, so if it goes down, those “jobs” will go down with it.

    That’s all everybody else has been saying, dude.

  • 63. US Contractor  |  September 14th, 2009 at 6:03 am

    OK Dude,

    Well i have lived in 7 countries in my life and traveled to many others and your just wrong, american music is out there and way more prevalent than British stuff. Not that i am saying british music is bad, but just not as worldwide. And now i’m not talking about pop/rock, which i’m asssuming you love.
    As far as your attitude, well i’m used to it, i was just asking a question. Of course i expect you to be rude and petty. Its all you got. And yes i know what envy means you prick, you had it written all over your post.

    “Hollywood is more important than our Marines and Navy” Yeah dude, we send in tom cruise, bruce willis, and the like to fight wars. You didn’t know american idol is actually auditions for special forces. Where are you from, dumbshitville? Hollywood can survive without the US, so in that respect Hollywood could be its own sovreign country, brilliant! Will Ferrel for prez.

    “lack of imagination” Yeah thats what your post had, that and a complete lack of any intelligence.

    You know i was just trying to have an honest and open converstation, but leave it to you to turn it into and argument and scowls. It’s lonely at the top and i do expect people to be angry and be haters. So either deal with it or fuck i don’t care what you do, hate us, love us, put up with us, doesn’t really matter. Dude

  • 64. Ganer  |  September 19th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I do not believe this. If the U.S.A could defeat more than 200 million high IQ Germans and Japanese in WWII. why can they not defeat those low IQ brown savages?

    And India is not superpower material and will never be in the same league as Russia and China.

  • 65. chugs  |  September 20th, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    @49. LOLZORG | September 7th, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    No I don’t watch fox (far from it). I point form because it simplifies the sequencing and progression of a complex argument. Anyway I doubt that anyone who watches Fox would know of of the exiledonline.com.

    Re my Vietnam quagmire remark. Yes I realise most of the regimes were hardly communist but they, from Burma, Thailand to Philippines were heavily propped by the US.

    What the US stopped was south east asia being under the spehere of influence of communist nations, at great cost of life and resources. I don’t agree with their actions or motivation however its obvious that the USSR would have hardly stopped (just in the same way the US didn’t).

    Regarding the drug comments, yes the United States runs drugs. There is vast quantities of documentary evidence to show from to the Iran Contra affair, to Vietnam itself that the US was implicitly involved in the drug trade. The fact that Afghanstain is responsible for over 90% of the worlds heroin and yet the worlds most modern armies aren’t stopping that says much about the reality of the matter. Those drugs and the liquid cash they produce are critical for the running of the global economy. You could hardly hide $500b under your bed. Its got to keep flowing.

    Regarding the use of oil I think your taking it a little personally. However the very fact that your typing on a plastic computer is indicative of your dependence on oil.

    Sure you might not use it for heating or general house power however you’ll find that the vast majority of our food depends on a transport/logistic system that is completely dependant on oil. In turn the food factories require vast amounts of inorganic fertlisers to allow the earth grow food that has rendered the earth sterile from over use of fungicides and pesticides. The earth in most industrial farms is so sterile there it contains no functional bacteria or fungus (the little microbs that create organic soil for plants to munch on).

    The problem with solar is that to move the rest of middle class to it that you would need access to rare earth metals (i.e. the stuff in your batteries and generators) to make it work. These, being implicit in the name, are rare to the extent that they have already peaked (i.e. read up on peak oil). Hence the vast conflicts in the Congo and Africa to grab the last cheap sources of rare earth minerals. Read a bit at http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Index.html details much of the maths behind this.

    I appreciate that you live in a hippy commune and believe you’re immune from the reality that everything, including bio-fuels, are all based, in way or another, on fossil fuels. No fossil fuels no mining for the minerals that get turned into solar panels and almost everything in your house. No fossil fuels equal no fuel to run the farmers tractor. No fossil fuels equal no servers to run the internet. Think of anything you do and try and preclude the use of oil from somewhere in the chain/life cycle.

    “The Caspian sea oil pipeline” – how does this relate to Afghanistan? Is failing geography a new requirement to join your movement?”

    Well then you haven’t heard of the Trans-Afghanistan Gas Pipeline. yes it never went ahead but it was a seriously deal in the 90s that was considered as an alternate path for the delivery of fossil fuels. Much of what is happening in Afghanistan has much to do with oil.

    “Ever heard of Shaghai Cooperation Organization? US has no influence in Central Asia. America is allowed to lease a base for no more than a year, at a huge price tag. The lease has to be renewed every year. So if US Corporations play naughty, base goes bye-bye next year. And US Corporate property gets nationalized. The SCO countries will defend each other in the event of a US attack. South East Asia wasn’t unified, Central Asia is. I think this graph represents respect towards the US rather well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:United_Nations_General_Assembly_vote_on_resolution_A63L.2.PNG“.

    Yes i’ve heard of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. However I think you’ll find that USCENTCOM (US Central command responsible for Central Asia) will polity disagree that they have no assets nor power in Central Asia. Hell these days B-52, B-2 and B-1 can fly non-stop around the world (in-flight fuelling), bomb targets in the middle east and land back in the mid-west of the US.

    That said yes you’ll find publicly issues over US base leases and such but in practice you’ll find that the US is extremely flexible.

    For example the supply chain for the Afghan war currently starts in Pakistan (all part of USCENTCOM). Presently hundreds of thousands of tons of munitions, food, and fuel are trucked and flown in from Pakistan. In the 90s when Serbia was being bombed missions were being flown out of Turkey (as was the case with Iraq, Desert Storm).

    Regarding your other comments I totally agree. I believe Gill Scot Heron says it much more elegantly in “B-Movie”.

    The disconnect however is always with the US. On one hand you have a wonderful society and yet on the other you have third-world infrastructure, poverty that should shame all humans, slavery/racism that is ignored and a emotional psyche of a 10 year old. Yet you can still fight wars any where on the planet, at any time. It would seem at the cost of everything dearest the average US citzen is happy to have a kick ass military.

  • 66. AverageCanadianGuy  |  November 9th, 2009 at 4:57 am

    Low IQ savages…Are you kidding .. Look at who is getting educated in US/Canadian universities and taking jobs in High Tech,medical areas….Also much of tech support is piped to India…These are smart people from Indian and Asia ………..

  • 67. CodebreakerV  |  January 9th, 2010 at 12:52 am

    The Afghanistan war has been lost by the US.

    I have a feeling that with 85000 jobs lost in December and more to be lost hereon, Americans will start migrating to Afghanistan in large numbers. We all know that that the soil & weather conditions are conducive for Poppy farming in Afghanistan.
    Hence, the American army can now be joined by their brethren and together they can cultivate poppy. The pure heroin could then be exported worldwide just like Oil and gas. I hope some American diplomat is reading this so that they can use this idea.

    Since they frame most world policies, clandestine drug trade can also be legitimate.

    Thoughts please?? I am already feeling thrilled by this idea..

  • 68. porkers-at-the-trough  |  January 19th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    uhh… hello, folks? (Ames, Concerned Citizen, et al)…
    What killed the SovUnion was NOT Afghanistan, nor Chernobyl, nor even the cost of keeping pace with Reagan’s defense buildup (although they of course were contributing factors)…
    …and the answer to “What DID kill the Sov Union, and got the mighty, nuclear-armed Warsaw Pact to disband without a shot?” is right there in “The War Nerd” (book), TRIBAL RIVALRIES, ambitions, and passions can ONLY be eliminated by the ol’ Stalinist/BIBLICAL method… something HARD to do in the late 20th century! (And even Stalin let the Chechans survive, etc.)
    Just as, 2,500 years ago the bible gloated over the extermination of Jericho, but today the descendents of those victorious, bloodthirsty (Israelite) armies are STILL complaining about the damn locals (still descendents of… the Phoenicians, aka “Philistines”! Talk about “the more things change, the more they stay the same”!)
    (Which, btw, the Hebrew alphabet is a spin-off of the Phoenician alphabet… talk about “learning from your masters”… and then eliminating ‘em!)
    For example, “Hunt for Red October” may be Hollywood (and Tom Clancey) movie fantasy, but it did portray a TYPICAL problem in a multi-nation FORCED empire: you never know when (Vercingetorix or Arminius fashion) your hired, foreign mercenaries might take what they have learned,(and YOUR Weapons) and REVOLT against your empire… you know, George Washington fashion, too!

    With the Holomodor (Stalin’s Ukraine famine/genocide, millions perished), Chechan evictions, Polish (Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian, etc.) OCCUPATIONS, etc. – ALL creating resentments decades later (as, for example, portrayed in the movie “Lawrence of Arabia,” when Lawrence’s Arabs massacre a Turkish troop train), and demanding a RUTHLESS dedication on the part of the Russians that can only be called “Stalinist,” the civilized and cultured Gorbachev just didn’t want to keep that level of violence and terror going.
    Looking back, it really was a miracle that the restrained and peace-mongering Gorbachev came to power – three of his Hard-Line predecessors perished in a short time before his ascent… and Reagan, miraculously as well, survived an assassin’s bullet, had he died, it is highly unlikely that Bush-I & Gorbachev would have come to that INF treaty, without which Gorbachev could never have gone to his Politburo & military chiefs and sold them on “glasnost” & “perestroika,”….

  • 69. "Timzinsky"  |  February 16th, 2010 at 5:12 am

    My friend “Les” invaded Afghanistan in 1980 with the soviet army,,,[he was in polish army],
    he could make vodka out of anything..
    one imam loved it and would cover his eyes,, take a swig, and say, Allah is Great!
    on plane-ride to invasion,, they took the paratroopers watches so they coulden’t tell where they where going,, then opened the door..
    “where the hell are we?”
    give that imam my regards,, i know there is at least one afghani like me,,, vodka- great!!!

  • 70. Azrael  |  December 10th, 2011 at 5:54 am

    food for thought…
    at no time in recorded history has any invading army ever managed to conquer Afghanistan… Not one!…EVER!!
    The Soviets failed to do it… and the Americans / coalition are making all the same mistakes, but of course we expect the outcome to be different. The old Phrase “those who fail to learn from history are condemed to repeat it” springs to mind.

    My 2 cents worth.


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