My point was that the US is not a bully nation on a permanent war economy, but instead usually responds to wars started by other countries to protect the victims both for its own interest and on moral grounds. In recent decades the US has abandoned a lot of people to their fates at the hands of dictators that it should have done something to stop. There is no moral obligation to intervene, but it is in fact moral to intervene to stop such acts.
I would disagree with your central point, then. Though the United States justifies its interventions on the basis of some moral grounds, it is largely acting to secure its own interests. This has been less and less the case over the 20th century, but the USA's activities, especially during the Cold War and prior to World War II, suggest that we often intervened primarily because our business or political interests were threatened - not to liberate oppressed people.
That having been said, I do not want to cast the United States in a solely villainous, or even aggressive, light. In most cases during the Cold War, the Soviets would have employed their influence widely had the USA not countered them. Vietnam was such an example - though ultimately, Vietnam allowed ties with other Communist regimes to sour for self-serving reasons. Korea is an instance of unadulterated Soviet aggression - a "test case" of sorts by Stalin to measure the mettle of the international community, perhaps in prelude to a land war in Europe. But even the lesser known conflicts in Greece, the Congo (which I mentioned), Angola, Rhodesia, Nicaragua and Iran were chess games played against the Soviet. The U.S.S.R. might not have been invading in these countries necessarily, but lack of action on our part would have led to regimes dramatically inclined to our chief rival's ideology and interests.
The US demobilized from 3.2 million troops in 1918 down to 250,000 9 months later. The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was passed in response to Japanese aggression since 1931 and German aggression a few years later. That's 22 years of forthright demobilization before the US government took decisive action to prepare for a new war with aggressors that were directly threatening US allies.
The US had 1.2 million troops in 1941. Today it has slightly more than 1 million. While 20% larger, it didn't dwarf the US military of today. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Army
(the first section).
It is precisely by the benchmark of that post-World War I demobilization that I would hesitate to apply the term to any post-World War II strategic disposition of the US military. The demobilization following the Great War showed how extensively the United States could pare down its military power, and I believe that it should, consequently, be used as the standard by which future reductions of the military are measured.
That period, with its international efforts for arms reduction - many championed by the United States - demonstrated the degree to which our nation could commit to reducing its armed forces and those abroad. It also showed, tellingly, the tragic consequences of that degree of reduction relative to a world that was gearing up for war. After that era, the United States - and rightly so, in my opinion - has committed itself to be ever ready to dominate the military will of any other nation, and it has done this by fostering a war economy. I will discuss this point more extensively below.
By 1945 the US Army had 8 million troops. 4 million were demobilized by the end of 1945 and a further 2 million were demobilized by 1946, a very large demobilization. By 1947 the US Army had 1 million troops. The National Security Act of 1947 was not a mobilization or even an expansion. It was a reorganization, that's all. By 1950, the US Army was down to 600,000 troops.
The US did in fact largely demobilize after WW2.
The chart you linked to clearly shows American demobilization and reduction in GDP spent on the military after each war.
The great majority of those WW2 units had been demobilized and the disciplined experience of the units were lost with them. Many senior sergeants and officers were WW2 veterans, but many of the new soldiers were hastily trained and undisciplined. It was to the point where US soldiers abandoned their heavy weapons and told their officers to go to hell in the face of the North Korean advance. The US forces didn't get pushed back to Pusan because they were ready for a war. They were defeated and in retreat because they weren't ready.
The reduction is apparent, yes, but note that it does not drop to the post-World War I levels. Furthermore, the chart notes that while military expenditure in actual cost does not reduce dramatically post-World War II, the level of which military spending constitutes our GDP has reduced. In essence, the United States economy has become accustomed to growing far beyond the proportional level of its military spending, allowing us to expend vast amounts of capital on maintaining global military dominance while not draining our GDP, as in World War II.
The reorganization in 1947 was not, we noted, an expansion - it was a means of organizing the United States military so that it could maintain a competitive posture against the Soviets. In essence, our strategic aim was to not
drop back to a "demobilization" posture, but to remain capable of thwarting the military of our rival superpower. If, in Korea and Vietnam, we had a tough time of it, it would be because we underestimated the resources required for the task - though, in Korea, that is debatable considering we did restore South Korea. It is not because we did not allocate resources at all, or that our strategic attitude was one of disarmament.
Put bluntly, we were not innocents caught unaware by some oncoming evil in Korea and Vietnam, but simply being hazardously frugal in our allocation of resources in a deliberate effort to block a threat.
Perhaps Ho Chi Min was one of those lesser of two evils that the US supported. The fall of China to an aggressive uncompromising brand of communism probably had a lot to do with the US' change of policy towards Ho Chi Min and his communists. The causes of the Vietnam war are very complicated to attribute only to communist aggression, however the Vietnamese communists were determined to take over all of Vietnam and they fought a war to do it.
Most definitely. The Vietnamese had had enough of colonialism, Western or Asian.
I don't believe the rubber barons part but yes, the US supported the French because the French were nominally US allies.
Your post states that the paragraph I posted has very little truth:
I stated Pol Pot killed a million people and US left them to their fate. You didn't say this was false but instead stated that Pol Pot killed 1.7 million. I stated that the US left them to their fate. You assigned blame for the genocide to the US, but didn't say that the US did NOT leave them to their fate. Your post didn't address my statement.
I stated that the world from East Germany to Vietnam was under communist control. You stated that it wasn't, possibly because I was vague. From the GDR east to the Vladivostok, from Siberia south to China then to Vietnam was under communist control. Despite being a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement, India enjoyed a warm relationship with the USSR. I didn't include Africa, but I was vague.
Next you stated you didn't know where I got the idea that tens of millions died under communism:
Your responses didn't show that there is very little truth in that part of my post.
Your original post mentioned, "Tens of millions of people died while communist aligned terrorist organizations destroyed things and killed people in Europe." I mistook this statement to suggest causal relationship. I now take your meaning to be that tens of millions died under Communist regimes, while Communist-aligned terrorists destroyed things and killed people in Europe.
All the same, I hold by my initial reaction to the claim of tens of millions dying under Communist regimes - namely, that such claims need to be moderated. In all fairness, I am only saying this because I was not taking into account the pre-Cold War Stalinist purges and Stalin's extensive crimes during World War II. I assure you that I consistently and vehemently argue that Stalin's toll on humanity is understated.
Yet the claims made by R. J. Rummel and the Black Book of Communism, I have to take with a significant grain of salt. These are estimates, and while we do not therefore say we can never know the truth, I would not argue we should apply a loose method of judging the number of deaths one can blame on Communist regimes. It is by the same token that I take the conclusions of works like the Black Book of Capitalism with a grain of salt.
Nevertheless, as I said, even conservatively one can attribute over 14 million dead directly to the Chinese Great Leap Forward. Even in the Black Book of Communism, it is to the Chinese that the greatest amount of regime-related deaths can be attributed.
Lastly, my position on the Cambodian genocide is actually not different from yours on the point of whether we "left them to their fate." As I hope is becoming evident throughout this post, I do not disagree with you on the substance on a number of points. What I was pointing out was a historical factor that I thought was underserved by the data presented.
In fact, that factor reinforces your point about the United States abandoning the region - for I would argue that the moral obligation of Colin Powell's proverbial statement, "You break it, you buy it," is far more clear than that of "stopping aggression." We did indeed abandon that country, even the entire region, to the extent that troubles in the surrounding sectors of Laos, Burma and Indonesia went unchecked by the USA's will.
They jumped to conclusions. They thought that Bush telling them they should rebel meant the US was going to help. Though with US forces poised a few miles away after crushing Saddam's army, it was a pretty reasonable conclusion. The US still left them to their fate. The link I posted about the Human Rights Watch article addresses this.
The Taliban was entwined with Al Qaeda. The Taliban statements in your link state the following:
Taliban's Ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abul Salam Zaeef, said "It is premature to level allegations against a person who is not in a position to carry out such attacks, it was a well-organized plan and Osama has no such facilities."
Taliban official Mutawakel tells journalists in Pakistan "where is the evidence" against Osama bin Laden.
Neither of these statements convey sympathy or condemn the attacks.
They'd been making excuses about evidence for years. They were never going to hand over bin Laden.
Well, I did post the wrong link. That was definitely my bad.
Here's the article
, and the pertinent passage:
In Kabul, Afghanistan, Wakeel Ahmed Mutawakel, the foreign minister of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban government, told the Arab television network Al Jazeera, "We denounce this terrorist attack, whoever is behind it."
It is safe to argue that the tenor of their statement already suggests a strategy of CYA on the Taliban's behalf. And I am not arguing that the Taliban would have handed over bin Ladin - I am simply saying they were talking about it, while we rushed to war. I make a note of this for the sake of posterity.
Furthermore, I make note of it in order to cast doubt on the pure, moral clarity of the military enterprise against the Taliban. In my opinion, though the Taliban harbored and aided al-Qaeda, it was simply a target of opportunity that was chosen because it was uniquely suited to further the strategic interests of the United States. The Taliban's connections with al-Qaeda were - and, possibly, are - less than those of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but we could not very well attack them. Al-Qaeda also is rotten in Somalia, the Maldives and Chechnya, but there was no strategic gain for getting into those muddles.
Even if one says flatly, "Well, Afghanistan is where Osama actually was, so into Afghanistan we had to go," and dismisses the other options as merely tangential to the central mission of nailing al-Qaeda's top brass, why, then, are we not in Pakistan, save that it would not be in our interests to invade a nuclear power with a notoriously volatile population?
Leaving the victims to their fate. If something is done about it, it stops. If the attempt to do something about it fails, it's a disaster but at least people tried rather than just looking the other way or saying 'sucks to be them'. That is truly heartless.
Considering how WW2 turned out in Germany and Japan, intentions of removing a dictator redeemed the war effort despite the killing, chaos and impoverishment. There is a special hatred by victims for those who knew and did nothing, as the link you posted about Shi'ite resentment of the US shows.
The definition of a war economy is very vague. I'm interested to hear your take on it.
My take on your statement about heartlessness is that one cannot afford to fail if one is to use violence for moral ends. I wrote a post on that earlier on this thread. For the sake of strategic power, for the sake of moral appearances, even for the sake of moral integrity, one must have the means to succeed before one undertakes the task.
It is a popular trope to say that America's military adventures only fail when its political will fails. I would disagree. America's military adventures fail when its political leadership fails to allocate the necessary resources to achieve its strategic aims.
In that regard, I am not arguing against moral intervention. Truth be told, I commonly advocate it. But I also advocate just as strongly that we maintain a vast military aligned to the task of destroying, occupying and rebuilding several other nations concurrently.
And now, The War Economy
In the years immediately prior to World War II, numerous industries associated with the armed forces - aeronautics and heavy industry in particular - began to develop at a faster pace than years prior. This slight increase in development and productivity became a surge during the war, as American channeled vast resources into its military-related technologies and industries.
Since then, this facet of the economy has become hugely significant, leading to advances that flourish further in the civilian markets. Industrial advancements like synthetics, aerospace and computers helped cultivate America's unparalleled economic expansion. And while I do not want to undercut the other booming American industries - namely automotive, pharmaceuticals and other health-related industries, and our now-gigantic service industry - I want to give due credit to the economic elements that, by flourishing, helped the others to flourish.
So much of the American industrial landscape either directly serves or derives from those military-related industries. Much of what our economy is famous for booms because of the spark set by the government pouring money into defense industries, and those industries in turn giving products to the civilian markets.
That is what I mean by America being a "war economy." And yet, as the century turned, we find that the military dominance that fostered economic dominance has had its economic effects too diluted into the global market for it to be the keystone to our economic success in the future. No longer are our developments of new war systems going to create civilian applications that will set us as the vanguard of industry - we find ourselves challenged in areas like technology and the hard sciences that we had been the undisputed leader in previously.
Consequently - and in light of the shifting challenges facing our global strategy for dominance - I feel we need to shift from a hard science based, defense-technology assisted economy to one that focuses on energy and resource management. For just as the challenges of the 20th century demanded we create a vast, technological arsenal to check our chief rivals, the Communist regimes, the challenges of the 21st century are more often found in impoverished countries with poor resource management. Furthermore, even our rival superpowers - Russia and China - find themselves dependent, either as a supplier or a consumer, on resource and energy reserves that are rapidly exhausting themselves.
Therefore, to retain our position as the chief economic and military power in the globe, the United States should invest as definitively and as dramatically in the resource and energy management technologies that our rivals - from the third world to the first - all will soon crave. Otherwise, we are threatened with being overmatched by the industrial and resource-fueled might of rivals, and exhausted by bushwars with desperate, oppressed populations.