David Hines
Narcissus at war
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By David Hines
December 29, 2011

It's fashionable to say that calling for an understanding of one's opponent is "blaming America first." It is believed that this is unnecessary; all that's required is a will to win. We're Uhmurkins, and can do anything we set our minds to. This ignores a two thousand year-old piece of wisdom: "Understanding the values and goals of others is an inescapable prerequisite for successful action." — Sun Tsu, "the Art of War"

That might explain why a handful of lightly-armed insurgents have given our vast military the run-around for so long — twice the length of each World War, each of which was fought against large and heavily-armed forces. Better tools of destruction have not obviated this eternal premise of successful warfare.

The advocacy of ignorance also discounts expensively-obtained CIA analysis. The agency has long recognized that "blowback" is a real phenomenon. The agency expanded its original definition of "blowback" to include actions abroad that create hostility to the US. Their report said that such created hostility is very real. Most would consider the CIA to be some of the "troops," yet don't support these troops by taking seriously their conclusions.

It also ignores another millennia-old bit of advice, this one Biblical: "For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." — Hosea 8:7

Nor is all our armament built for our own defense. We gave insurgents Stinger missiles and light weapons; those fighters later became Al Qaeda and Taliban. Saddam Hussein was armed at our expense to fight Iran, as well as to suppress his own people; after having armed him, Saddam was said to be the worst guy since Hitler. Maybe somebody ought to have thought of the comparison much earlier — unless the real goal was to create credible enemies to fight in the future.

"So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself." — Sun Tsu

Neither is it certain that we know ourselves all that well. We can't decide whether the military is about defense, offense, or job creation. If funnelling billions into munitions manufacturers to fund jobs is the goal, then maybe knowing the enemy is unnecessary. Nor is winning; the less success there is, the more such dubious "investments" might be sold to a gullible public.

Evidence abounds that military expenditure is not solely about defense. Close a base the military doesn't need? Opposition in Congress is adamant; a district could lose jobs!

The Pentagon only narrowly dodged imposition of Trent Lott's cruise ship navy — a jobs bill for Louisiana. Lott wanted the Navy to take over hulls from a cruise ship company that despite government subsidies went bankrupt, rather like Solyndra. The ships did not meet the Navy's requirements; the ships would have had to be manned and maintained, detracting from rather than adding to military readiness.

Debate about helicopters for the so-called "drug war" Colombia front centered around whether Texas or Connecticut would get the jobs — Bell or Sikorsky. Both manufacturers got a taste, but fewer of the more capable Sikorsky Blackhawks than the Pentagon wanted and more of the cheaper Bell Hueys.

In pooh-poohing consideration of the CIA report, are the hawks seeking to defend us, or fund a corporatist economy? They themselves may not be sure. They surely don't address the issue in an adult manner.

Blowback deniers are determined to keep staring in the mirror at our collective national bulging biceps and six-pack abs. If you point out that the mirror is not the totality of the world, you are accused of "blaming America first." If you note that the bank account is suffering because of all the self-adoration, you are told that it doesn't matter, because we'll do whatever it takes to win — no matter how much more self-admiration is required.

Narcissism doesn't win wars, nor cure ailing economies. It's merely a solipsistic distraction.

© David Hines

 

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David Hines

Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)

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