A matter of perspective

Gen. Peter Pace hates gays, but likes killingRecently, Gen. Peter Pace, a known homophobe who also happens to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported to Congress that our military is over-commited and unprepared to respond quickly to any new threats.

While speaking to Congress, Pace had this to say:

You take a lap around the globe — you could start any place: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Venezuela, Colombia, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, North Korea, back around to Pakistan, and I probably missed a few. There’s no dearth of challenges out there for our armed forces.

This is a remarkable statement, although it may not seem like one at first. Just ask yourself, if you had read that a Chinese general or a German general had said that, what would your response be? I know I’d rightly decry their naked aggression.

We need to put ourselves in the shoes of those from the outside looking in. Ask yourself why we need to be able to attack more than 15 countries on the drop of dime. Ask yourself why we have military bases in more than 130 countries. Ask yourself why we spend more on our military than the rest of the planet combined.

Can self-defense really be the answer?

11 Comments

  1. Ian

    Well, I think you may be misinterpreting what he’s saying by naming all those countries. It isn’t naked aggression as you put it. He said we are over committed and unable to respond to new threats. All of the countries listed have their issues with the US, and were they to become an imminent threat, we wouldn’t be able to act accordingly. I mean, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia are all al Qaeda recruiting grounds. They have a large following there. We obviously are in Iraq now, which lets not get started on that quagmire. Iran is making nuclear weapons and talking about incinerating Israel and the US. Syria is a problem with Lebanon, and thus Israel, and their unwillingness to stop anyone from crossing their borders. North Korea just tested a nuclear bomb and is basically blackmailing us into giving them aid. Pakistan is an ally kind of, but they are a problem with their tensions with India, their pro-al Qaeda populus, etc. Africa has its problems with genocide, al Qaeda, etc. Venezuela is a problem with Chavez, who just overall is a dick. Any of these places could turn into a problem for us, a real threat, not like Iraq.

  2. Chris

    Of all of those countries listed, only N. Korea has actually threatened to attack the United States. Sure some of those countries have terrorists in them, but so do many others, including our own.

  3. Ian

    A few links:

    Indonesia:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0501/p01s04-woap.html

    Phillipines:
    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0LIY/is_4_90/ai_95598531

    Malaysia
    http://www.atimes.com/se-asia/DB06Ae01.html

    Iran:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel
    (remember, like it or not, Israel is our ally)

    So let me ask you this, if an Indonesian based al Qaeda group executed a major strike on the US or US interests, what should we do? Well, when it happened with Afghanistan, we asked to be able to come in and get them, they refused, so we went in and overthrew their government. Is the same thing not possible in these other nations with al Qaeda in them? The general isn’t saying the governments of these countries are necessarily the threat. What he’s saying is that these countries have something about them that could develop into an imminent threat, and in our current state, if it were to happen, we couldn’t do anything about it. He isn’t being aggressive, if anything he is inviting people to mess with us cause he’s saying we can’t handle it.

  4. Chris

    Ian, you should read a little bit more about Afghanistan. We asked the government to hand over Bin Laden without providing any proof that he was actually responsible for the attacks. We invaded without ever providing that proof.

    But back to the original topic, do you really not think this is an aggressive stance when you add up all the spending, the bases, 2 ongoing occupations and the laundry list of future targets?

  5. Chris, even if you’re an alarmist, what’s wrong with all of that? We’re a hegemon, and for reasons not particularly pertinent to this thread, we’ll either be moving up to a more consolidated position or down a tier to where the Europeans sit.

    And while I’m personally sympathetic to our military and comfortable with our interventionist policies overall (there have been a couple poor judgement calls here and there, though), I think you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  6. Ian

    We aren’t talking about the spending, since thats not relevant to what the general is saying. Now you can have your general distaste for military spending, as I do myself, but thats irrelevant here. Its not a sign of aggression to prepare ourselves for problems with other nations. If North Korea is threatening hostility and nuclear attack to us and our allies, it is not a sign of aggression to prepare for such a situation. You have someone saying they are going to hit you, do you not try and block the punch? This isn’t a pre-emptive strike we are talking about. Now THATS aggression. Containment and preparation won the Cold War.

    Afghanistan was known to have al Qaeda training camps (Clinton bombed them). The Taliban were known bin Laden sympathizers. Our intelligence suggested he was there, he claimed responsibility for 9/11. We had the financial link between him and the hijackers. What proof do you want? Video and audio of him ordering the attacks? He said he did it. Generally thats enough in a court of law. If any of our military actions were justified under the Bush admin it was this one. Had the Taliban allowed the US military in, it would not have been an invasion. You can’t say we need to respect a nations sovereignity when there is no centralized government and the nation is being run by warlords.

  7. Chris

    Ian,
    There are procedures for presenting evidence for extradition. There are procedures for attacking other countries by first going to the UN and getting permission.

    We also created a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan by attacking them the way we did. It created a lot of refugees in the dead of winter that died of cold and starvation.

    As for the military spending, it’s a big deal that ours is so high. Large standing armies have historically led to aggression and abuse. France feared them, England feared them, Rome feared them.

    With such large military expenditures it’s too easy to look to war as the first option instead of the last resort. Lately we’ve been using our military bases and conquest (like Iraq) to hold on to the power vacuum that is being left by our failing economy.

  8. The arguments about extraditing bin Laden from Afghanistan are nuanced, yet I’m sure you understand they boil down to the following: Fuck the U.N. They’re not the boss of us and they’ll not stop us from invading nations that *blatantly* harbor our enemies.

  9. Chris

    Cameron,
    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have done something in Afghanistan, but I question the manner in which we proceeded. We should have left no doubt about our morality. We should have shown some compassion for the innocent people in Afghanistan.

    From December 2001 to March 2002, we killed 3000 Afghani civilians, just with our bombs. Is that self-defense or is it reckless revenge?

  10. Ian

    We don’t need the UN’s permission to do anything honestly. I strongly believe in diplomacy, but even I can see that the UN is a joke. All they do is pass resolutions saying someone has been naughty, but they don’t do crap when it comes to enforcing anything. Really, what authority does the UN have? Its not in our constitution, or anyone elses, that the UN is a governing body over our nation. If listening to what the UN wants is voluntary, and there aren’t any serious consequences for ignoring them, then can’t we just agree its useless? Its like the monarchy in England, except no one loves them.

    And as for your argument about Afghanistan civilians, what about our civilians? If the ruling Afghan government gives harbor to bin Laden and refuses to do anything about him, then he might as well be acting on behalf of their government. Thus 9/11 is an act of war. Screw diplomacy, if some redneck hillbilly bombed a building in Iran killing thousands, you can bet we would do something about him. Afghan civilians could have said, “Get rid of him, yank him out of his cave,” but they didn’t. OBL killed lots of our civilians, I don’t sympathize with what you say. It shouldn’t take a UN resolution and a year of debate to decide the obvious.

    We created a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, but OBL created a huge mess in this country. Its cause of him that GWB got a blank check to screw up this country with the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. Its cause of him you can’t carry baby formula on an airplane. Now we really have our country trying to become a theocracy and make this another crusade. OBL messed us up, and you can’t say he won. He didn’t get what he wanted, Allah hasn’t set us all on fire. But he did mess things up bad and he should pay. I don’t sympathize with a nation who would harbor OBL. I don’t sympathize with people who dance in the streets when thousands of our innocent civilians die. Screw them. I don’t need some farce of a diplomatic body to give me approval to say its messed up. You think if the UN existed at the time as it does now, that we should have asked for permission after Pearl Harbor?

  11. Ian

    And I already said I don’t like military spending being like it is:

    Now you can have your general distaste for military spending, as I do myself, but thats irrelevant here.

    Yeah, I think we should invest more in education, in alternative energy, etc. I mean, if we really are going to war to gain a foothold in a region rich with resources, you really could just spend all that money on building a solar economy. Honestly, if we were independent in energy, we could let the Middle East rot. We shouldn’t have to pander to hostile governments like Saudi Arabia just cause they can destroy our economy by cutting the oil supply.