Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shooting Gnats with a Machine Gun 666 to 1

In Tomgam’s post of January 14, 2010, Shooting Gnats with a Machine Gun 666 to 1, Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse write about the changing American image of our enemies. Explaining how the image of the Japanese warrior changed from inferior fighters who had congenital nearsightedness, inner-ear defects, lacked individualism, and who were poor pilots flying inferior planes, to, once we were at war with them, invincible, natural-born jungle and night-fighters, ruthless, cruel, and blind to any human values. In time, fear took hold in America resulting in the debasement and internment of Japanese Americans.

Similarly, after September 11, 2001, America’s image of Al-Qaeda changed. Al-Qaeda became from what was previous a somewhat insignificant group of terrorist into a superpower that required the full strength of the world’s most powerful armed forces to combat. Fear of Muslims gripped America, and some Americans even initiated a call for internment camps.

Government has deliberately and shamefully engaged in fear mongering as a political tactic to frighten citizens and influence their political views on such things as gun legislation, terrorism, war, healthcare, the federal deficit, climate change, or combating disease. Ostensibly, in order to protect us from our fears, it puts into place security measures to remedy those fears and protect our nightmares from becoming a reality. Each time that was done, it shaved away more of our personal liberty.

Creating public fear is the oldest tool in the statecraft toolbox for revving-up home front support for war. The American government has created a culture of fear, it has become an art form, exploiting it whenever they feel public support is lacking. Fear creation is a key indicator that we should be skeptical, for when our government through the media propagandizes fear, Americans should pay really close attention. Americans have not, and have failed repeatedly to comprehend that fact.

Fear is what has empowered the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has kept the Afghan war going for nine years, making it difficult to close Guantanamo, and to bring our troops home from Iraq. Fear has enabled the very lucrative business of war. It has enabled preemptive and protracted wars. As a result, we gave George W Bush unprecedented war powers, and subsequently allowed war funding and troop deployments in excess of what is logically necessary for success.

According to Engelhardt and Turse, active duty U.S. troop strength has a 666 to 1 advantage over the estimated number of al-Qaeda fighters worldwide.

The 2009 estimate of Afghan’s Taliban fighters is estimated at 25,000, not including about 100 Al-Qaeda fighters. There are approximately 277,946 International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and non-ISAF troops in Afghanistan with approximately 193,800 Afghan National Army and police.

Al-Qaeda and Taliban assets are minuscule in comparison to U.S. forces. Their tactical armaments are very limited and unsophisticated.

The United States has spent trillions of taxpayer dollars on the Global War on terror. American and allied troops are supreme with very sophisticated land, sea, and air assets, and yet we cannot succeed in Afghanistan.

Combat, non-combat, and civilian casualties have greatly exceeded those of September 11, 2001. In terms of cost-benefit, i.e. cost and casualties versus any success, we have been significantly trounced.

Americans laud America as being the most powerful country and military force in the world. We have outgunned the Taliban and Al-Qaeda 666 to 1, and still cannot accomplish the mission, so how can we, in all candor, pat ourselves on the back as being so special.

Of course, based on the facts, we clearly should not. But there is an alternative motive at work in our government and by our military: the very lucrative business of conducting a protracted war, of which the war on terrorism enables exceedingly well.