Monday, March 21, 2011

About that other form of Predation

Because the banksters caused crises in 2008 that have made whatever crimes done by the military in the name of "patriotism" seem insignificant by comparison, we may often ignore them.  In fact, I make it a policy here at real economics to ignore the comings and goings of the military-industrial complex (MIC).  The way I figure it, those folks get enough attention as it is.  If the MIC isn't looking manly and heroic enough in the news to heat up the blood and testosterone of the 18-year-old male, they can always buy advertising on sporting events or design state-of-the-art video games.

In fact, I would argue that the last thing the MIC needs to do is advertise on TV.  This insight was provided me at a young age courtesy of Mennonites.  They believed that it was totally natural for young men to want to go to war--it was part of the basic package of "original sin."  They believed the only way you can raise a non-warlike young male is provide him with regular instructions in pacifist teachings.  And even that is often not enough because the warlike animus is so strong.  Just remember, Dwight Eisenhower was raised as a devout Mennonite and he became a five-star general.  Just remember, the Social-Democratic members of the German parliament had made a powerful anti-war political statement just shortly before leaving en mass to join the fighting in 1914.

Or as my mother would say, "There will always be war.  Men LOVE war."  Fortunately history provides an alternate example.  My tribe, the Swedes, have an extremely warlike history.  After all, we were a part of the hordes of the north that struck such terror in the hearts of the rest of Europe that they actually prayed to God for deliverance.  (From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord!)  The Swedes did enough damage during the Thirty Years' War to affect the boundary between Protestant and Catholic Europe to this day.  Swedes figured out a way to get into wars pretty much continuously from the Viking Age on.

And then in 1818, it stopped.  Sweden stopped making war--she hasn't been in a war since.  What changed?  Sweden had a succession problem and so formed a committee to recruit a new king.  They found a handsome officer in Napoleon's army who agreed to move to Stockholm, learn Swedish, and be the new king.  He had the fine name of Bernadotte and his family still makes up the modern monarchy.

Now I am a devout republican.  I do NOT believe in kings.  But if the Swedish monarchy is responsible for turning perhaps the most warlike society in history into a nation that believes the best way to interact with the rest of the world is to turn them into satisfied customers for the goods produced by their clever and industrious population, then there is a least one example of a monarchy being useful.  Cultures CAN evolve!  And it took a military man who was obviously fed up with the lies that have to be told to sustain a military becoming king of a land populated with folks best described as fierce.

And of course, the peacemakers do have the argument that their way is better because a peaceful environment leads to amazingly sophisticated societies.  It makes for better farmers.  And it makes for MUCH better industries.  It is the basis of "soft" cultural power that military minds can only dream about.  This is true mostly because militarism, like most actions of the Leisure Classes, is a primitive response to the outside world.  As the War Nerd, Gary Brecher, points out so well here, there is very little new in military thinking.

The Littlest Invasions
No-fly zones and covert ops are just as bad as large-scale interventions.
By Gary Brecher
The newest fad in foreign intervention is the slim-line approach. I swear, it really is like fashion news. A few years ago, the neocons were pushing a full-figured style of intervention, which ended up with us wasting hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of American lives in Iraq. Since that went so badly, the fashion has swung the other way, and the same idiots who brought you Iraq are pushing for a smaller, smarter style of intervention that leans on small groups of special-forces troops and covert operations.
Watch this play out with Libya: it starts with Sen. John McCain saying we should just impose a no-fly zone. Before you know it, there’s talk about a few airstrikes, providing logistical help to the rebels, maybe sending some troops with NATO or the UN—you know, to keep the “peace.”
The notion of not intervening, period, never enters the neocons’ heads. I got the shock of my life going through the Weekly Standard a couple of years ago when I saw the headline, “The Case Against Intervention.” But it turned out to be about the American economy. I should’ve realized, the only place these people don’t want us to pour money into is the USA.
When it comes to sending American GIs into harm’s way, they never met an intervention they didn’t like. Some of their proposed military interventions are so crazy you have to wonder if they weren’t chuckling to themselves over at Bill Kristol’s magazine when they wrote this nonsense. Craziest of all was the flurry of calls a couple of years back for us to intervene in Zimbabwe.
Too Stupid For Bush
If you actually know anything about contemporary military doctrine, you have to laugh at this notion. Zimbabwe has every deal-breaker in the book. For starters, it’s landlocked. America is and always has been an air/sea power; projecting that kind of power to a landlocked country is a nightmare. Zimbabwe is also mired in one of those endless ethnic feuds that just don’t respond to foreign pressure—in this case, deep and abiding hate between the two biggest tribes, Shona and Ndebele.
There’s also the fact that the dictator we’d have intervened against, Robert Mugabe, is a former guerrilla who still commands the allegiance of a tribal/irregular army. That’s the last thing U.S. conventional forces want to face. And finally—the factor that should veto any intervention—Mugabe has a long history of using foreign threats to prop up his regime. In fact, a foreign intervention is just about the only thing that could make Mugabe popular in Zimbabwe again, just as a foreign invasion to depose Obama is the only thing that would make him popular in Texas—well, maybe not Texas but, say, North Carolina. more

No comments:

Post a Comment