There are few things more ironic, or amusing, than watching Hillary Clinton struggle to start and maintain a process vis-à-vis America’s European “allies” in “NATO” that should have been started twenty years ago – when her husband was President. Due in no small part to both her gender and her leftist Clinton pedigree, she was able rather easily to sucker three fake macho chauvinists – France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, Britain’s David Cameron and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, into taking their own bait. But tough and smart Angela Merkel of Germany has so far been unimpressed with the choice of Libya as red meat. Europe’s smaller other states, meanwhile, have positioned themselves somewhere between minimal support behind France and Britain, and zero support behind Germany. These are ALL members of what is theoretically (or euphemistically) a “military alliance”.
Given the realities of American election politics, only a conservative like Nixon could have opened the door to Communist China, and only a leftist like Obama could have goaded the Europeans into stop hiding behind the American military. It’s just tragic that President Clinton lacked the spine to do it twenty years earlier and thus passed up one of the greatest opportunities in American history – content to coast into the 21st century on strategic thinking done by our parents for an entirely different world in the last century.
As Libya rose on the public consciousness meter during March 2011, the noises predictably rose in Europe for someone to “DO something”. This has long been a ploy for Europe to get the dumb Americans to go rushing into various and sundry “crises”, with grandiose promises of European support for the effort – that somehow never got delivered. The tactic effectively gets the US to do all the heavy lifting, paying the lion’s share of money and blood, while ensuring the Europeans a seat at the command table – all to give the illusion of equitable burden sharing between the US and Europe under a military “alliance” that itself is an illusion. Europe has been playing this slick game for the past thirty years – ever since “right-wing” Greatest Generation President Reagan came out of retirement to show the Baby Boomers how to end the stupid “Cold” War. Much to the horror of the Europeans, Reagan threatened not only to “set off World War III”, but also threatened to upset the status quo whereby the Europeans were able to get the US to meet most of Europe’s defense costs, which significantly increased funds available to devote to Europe’s vote-buying socialist womb.
A military alliance, by definition, is a formal agreement whereby individual nations unite their military forces equitably under a single command in order to better coordinate and confront what all members perceive as a common threat to all from an external military force. Absence that common external threat, absence the justification for the alliance. Worse, the absence of a common external military threat increases the probability that each member will act more and more in accordance with its own national interests rather than in the interests of the alliance. This is the way military alliances have worked since at least the time of ancient Greece.
“NATO” was a military alliance designed specifically to counter the commonly perceived military threat originally posed to western Europe, and by extension, to the United States, by the Warsaw Pact. When the Soviet Russian-led Warsaw Pact disintegrated in 1990, “NATO” lost its raison d’être. At that point the self-interests of all countries in Europe changed very dramatically and were no longer perfectly aligned with those of the United States. The United States, running as usual on mindless auto-pilot, was the last member to recognize such realities. Those individual national self-interests have drifted further apart ever since. The alliance should have been retired with honors when its mission was accomplished around 1992, and, if perceived by rational American analysis as necessary, a totally new alliance, specifically tailored for the 21st century, should have been forged with new members to meet the challenges of a completely different century.
Instead, the US and the Europeans have continued to try to make “NATO” something it was never intended to be and never will be. Since a military alliance needs a military threat, the idea is to find (or re-create) some reasonably valid justification to keep the thing going. One sure way to do that is to keep Russia as the imagined bogyman, a struggling economy on the brink of collapse as somehow a credible military threat to the security of much stronger countries in Europe, primarily because the “old Russia” remains in the popular “NATO” memory. What could possibly be more perverse after finally ending the 45-year “Cold” War than trying to re-establish it by a different name so our children could repeat the same stupidity? Yet that has been the “strategy” ever since. Russia meanwhile has struggled to maintain its own national interests and not be suckered into the petty politics of Europe unless offered no other choice. But Russia has been effectively undercutting the European ploy by gradually making Europe ever more dependent on Russian oil and gas, thereby reducing the degree to which the Europeans are willing to paint Russia as the requisite bogyman. All of this, of course, presents an existential “problem” for “NATO”.
Some of George Washington’s wisest advice to his fellow citizens prior to his stepping off stage 200 years earlier was to warn about the dangers of permanent alliances, especially with the incessantly bickering Europeans: “Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice? It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances …, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. … I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them. Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.” Not only are permanent alliances that exist beyond their “extraordinary emergency” easily subject to all sorts of political manipulation, they also represent paper tigers that usually prove non-existent when a new true emergency arises. There is nothing more dangerous than delusional “strength”.
Today, “NATO” is mostly just another European mega-bureaucracy that does far more talking than acting, while most Americans think it’s still the same powerful military thing it was back in 1985. Since the Europeans are happy to have the US continue to carry the burden of their defense a full twenty years after that became unnecessary, everyone keeps trying to pound square pegs down round “NATO” holes. It’s all rather silly, especially for the dumb Americans. As a military force, “NATO” is pretty much a bureaucracy of competing national political interests, but it’s a very important way that the Europeans keep the United States military on their leash. Old European politicians often even run for office on campaigns that include this very objective, rarely even couched anymore in the familiar old code words (since few Americans anymore, naively believing that “everyone thinks just like me”, bother to familiarize themselves with what is really happening in the rest of the world, even in political Old Europe.) The largest multi-national commercial defense contractor in Europe, one of the largest in the world – EADS – now has 28 plants and facilities in the US to make and sell military hardware to the dumb Americans that European taxpayers refuse to buy for themselves. Never the fools, even the Russian government is a major stockholder in EADS, feeding handsomely at the US taxpayer trough.
The “War On Terrorism” has proven a far less effective “justification” for “NATO” than does Russia – primarily because militarily it involves quite dangerous and long-lasting actual danger. “NATO” is configured, equipped, staffed and trained as a predominantly conventional military force (as was appropriate for a huge conventional enemy like the Warsaw Pact); it thus is hardly ideal to face an entirely unconventional enemy such as al Qaeda. The European Union has both a population and an economy larger that the United States, but the Europeans contribute only about a third of what the US contributes to the effort in Afghanistan, even though the US has also been struggling to accomplish much broader objectives almost alone in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe. The Europeans have never met their original commitments for Afghanistan, and the forces they did commit were subject to all sorts of caveats on their use – making “NATO” in Afghanistan one of the most inept, complicated and ineffective bureaucracies ever to set foot in a war zone. Most of the forces that Europe does contribute to Afghanistan do not engage in dangerous missions like actual fighting, but rather in “stabilization” and “monitoring” activities in “secure” rear areas of the country under the guise of “peace-keeping”. This is what used to be done by that part of the US military that we determined could be fired by the many hundreds of thousands in the 1990-period as “no longer needed” – with the exception that such US soldiers actually worked to accomplish positive results like securing areas and strengthening the indigenous ability to resist external threat.
The Regular US military is now configured almost entirely for very powerful, aggressive, forward-leaning projection of strength to very fast and fluid conventional warfare anywhere on Earth. The individual European national forces are configured mainly for the minimum strength necessary to protect individual domestic borders in backward-leaning static conventional defense, not so very different from our own National Guard, so the original division of mission in Afghanistan between offense and defense, between the US/UK and Europe, would appear logical. (European contribution to strategic “NATO” missions consists primarily of some conventional “fighter” planes and a few ships – antiseptic push-button warfare.) But most European countries, like huge Germany, have consistently refused to meet even the force levels or mission objectives they had previously promised to contribute to Afghanistan, out of fear of incurring actual casualties leading to public opposition. Yet they still enjoy a seat at the command table. And they all use the broad “NATO” label to imply that American casualties are European casualties. (See Footnote #1.)
Then there are all the “qualifiers” placed by individual governments on the configuration, size and employment of its military “forces” in any “NATO” effort. Imagine the extreme complexity of the job of a US commander trying to execute a coordinated war effort with 25 different sub-forces under his command all of different capabilities, different sizes and equipment, different restrictions, different standards; there comes a point when all of that nonsense is simply counter-productive, when such individual “forces” do little more than provide a political cover for the US to just do it alone and get the job done as well as possible, while dragging around all these really irritating European anchors providing national “machismo” and self-worth to the naïve folks back home.
Playing The Game
All sorts of various duplicitous efforts have been undertaken in order to maintain some semblance of artificially manufactured “Cold War-style east-west tension” on the European continent, including the concept of “self-determination” – a precept wherein “NATO” fully supports people who determine they wish to be independent of their ruling governments, but only if that “self-determination” moves toward Europe, such as in Kosovo, but NOT if that “self-determination” moves toward Russia, such as in the Georgia provinces of South Ossetia (right next to war-torn Chechnya) and Abkhazia. (“Self-determination” obviously also does not include such people as the Basques or those in Northern Ireland.) In Georgia a totally incompetent but media-savvy administration was nearly able to trick the US into engaging in a war against Russia in one of the most remote places on the planet, all while pretending that potential Caspian Sea oil transit routes played no part in the game. Then there was the whole absurdity of a US “European missile shield”, ostensibly (and absurdly) intended to protect Europe from a missile attack from Iran or North Korea, but positioned in such a way as to be only intended to defend against a theoretical missile attack from Russia. (No one ever answered the question as to why Europe, if it actually needed one, could not install its own missile shield.)
In fact, the primary objective of “NATO” for the past twenty years has been to play on long-outdated “Cold” War fears to push the “NATO” military alliance right up to Moscow’s front door step. How in the world could ANY rational Russian leader NOT view such persistent efforts on the part of a potent military alliance as both aggressive and offensive? Any Russian leadership would be entirely negligent if they did not react to such moves with alarm and “push-back”. After all, how would the US feel if Russia decided to place a “missile shield” in Cuba, Mexico and Canada? Would the US accept the stated rationale that such emplacements were not intended to be threatening? Of course not. So why should Russia believe “NATO”? The whole “NATO strategy” simply defies logic.
The US spends about 4.5% of its GDP on defense. The 27 countries of the European Union spend about 1.6% of their combined GDP on defense, with only Great Britain and France rising to half the US commitment at 2.3%. All European spending on defense, of course, has steadily fallen since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, with Great Britain, Germany and France at the forefront of such defense cost-cutting. “NATO” consists of 21 of these EU countries, none of which has any separate forces devoted to the EU. (See Footnote #2.) To confuse matters even further, some members of the current “NATO” were even formerly members of the opposing Warsaw Pact – which no longer exists.
It has been a very long laborious process to get the Europeans to assume a greater share of their own defense, through one long mind-numbing bureaucrat process after another, paid for, of course, by taxpayers. The most recent “achievement” has been the creation in 2009 of a “Synchronized Armed Forces Europe” (SAFE) as a bureaucratic first step towards a “European military force” – a full quarter of a century overdue. A careful observer would easily conclude that “defense” in Europe is just one big never-ending bureaucratic scam, a concerted effort by privileged “elitist” talkers to prolong as long as possible keeping the American military working dog on its tight leash and the US taxpayer picking up the lion’s share of the bill. It’s long been possible for tens of thousands of US and European “diplomats” and bureaucrats to spend entire luxurious careers accomplishing absolutely nothing but endlessly championing some anachronistic absurdity known as “NATO” or “European defense” – all while invoking a “global strategy” created by the Greatest Generation for a world long gone.
Another main US purpose of “NATO” seems to be to provide an excuse for all the weekend warrior reservists and bureaucrats in the Washington region and around the country to get all expense-paid years-long vacations with their families in Europe in and around “NATO” Headquarters in Brussels. It’s fascinating that the Obama Administration has had a “committee” working with the Europeans for the past year trying yet again to find some actual purpose for the incredibly expensive “NATO” – for the twentieth year and counting. The US “elitist committee” of “expert” bureaucrats is headed by another woman with zero military experience – a women from a privileged background with Czech roots who regards as her greatest achievement, when she served as US Secretary of State, getting President Clinton to send US ground soldiers into war in the former Yugoslavia when none of the cowards in Europe would do anything for years to stop the genocide in their front yard. Despite the President’s repeated promises that they would not be there as long as a year, those US soldiers are still in both Bosnia and Kosovo – 16 and 12 years later. (Since military “solutions” such as war are actually the failure of diplomacy, this woman “diplomat” isn’t perceptive enough to realize that her greatest “achievement” was actually a monumental failure.)
To emphasize her “creds” with Europeans, Albright readily identifies herself much more with Czechoslovakia, where she was born, and Great Britain, where she grew up, than with America, i.e., just another of those talking foreign tails wagging the working American dog. On Albright’s committee is not one US military professional – which should tell you all you need to know about this phony “military alliance”. How hard is it to sit and talk about the imperial “we” for years while American soldiers do all the hard parts for decades on the US taxpayer’s dime? How difficult is it to expect easy answers, short cuts and quick fixes of others, while you just sit there at talk ad nauseam year after year?
The Missed Opportunity
It was due in no small part to Albright and similar militarily-ignorant Eurocentric others in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, much better grounded in long-gone history than in forward-looking genius, that the United States missed a truly great opportunity to shape the direction of the 21st century around a more realistic partnership better capable of addressing the very difficult challenges that now face the United States. By 1995, Russia was on the ropes, a recent global superpower suddenly now sinking fast under the shock of “defeat” and disarray. Still, as US military officers quickly learned, there was quite considerable mutual respect among both Russian and American military officers – the Americans careful not to appear in any way “superior”, the Russians eager to learn from the Americans. It was a good and wide-spread basis for a meaningful beginning, and at most places in Russia where US military officers went they were rather warmly received.
But it soon became apparent that civilian authorities took considerable objection to such military relationships. The State Department took special exception to former US military officers assuming leadership roles in former Soviet bloc countries, some even filling Minister of Defense roles in their birth countries. (State and the chattering class have also been very careful to avoid mentioning the key role played in Egypt by the US military for over thirty years by training the Egyptian military according to American standards. Diplomats talk; soldiers do.) So, rather than exploit these American-Russian military relationships for greater strategic purpose, the US simply unleashed the Wall Street “masters of the universe” on Russia to teach them the workings of capitalism, while western academia sent academics expert in “democracy”. Eventually almost all departed, chagrined that their theories did not work so well in a nation that did not understand, leaving behind a huge country that was now a basket case in free fall. Oligarchs seized on the vacuum to further milk Russia of her riches, while idealistic “democrats” were left expecting and promising miracles that didn’t come, primarily because the people, for centuries used to being taken care of by the state, watched everything, including their meager incomes, vanish before their eyes. The promises of the west were all lies.
What was missing from all these impatient and impetuous western players was a solid understanding of Russia and Russians, the land of tsars, a people with over a thousand years of very powerful central rule, a people whose whole psyche was wrapped up in very powerful emotions of “Mother Russia”, a place where everything happened on grand scales, a great nation made great by powerful leaders. Such a people needed considerable time to figure out how to rule themselves, to embrace the level of personal responsibility that comes with participation in a growing capitalistic democracy. As incomes and birthrates fell through the floor and her riches flooded out the door, Russia became a speeding train heading straight for catastrophe. Into the breach stepped a former KGB man, with considerable understanding of both Russia and the world beyond Russia, who jumped on the train, pulled the hand brake and held it until the train finally slowed down. If he had not, Russia would have disintegrated. In the ensuing years, that man has had to contend with a thousand stupid barbs thrown by western idiots while trying to re-instill enough pride in the Russian people to turn around a rapidly and very dangerous declining economy and birth rate, and regaining control over the only thing that could save Russia economically in the short term – its vast oil and gas resources.
Russia is the largest nation on Earth with the world’s largest concentration of natural resource reserves. But her birth rate remains precipitously low, much less than half that needed to maintain the status quo, so low that the country is in danger of eventually, in this century, reaching a point when the Russian people are insufficient to defend those resources in the face of a rapidly rising China salivating for them. Unfortunately, Russia, with unrelenting experience with Muslim militant extremism, coupled with an ingrained fear of diluting “Mother Russia”, remains distrustful of Muslims as potential large scale immigrants. And with an economy still on the ropes, a civil system still rife with corruption, not many others from elsewhere are eager to immigrate, or even to return home to Russia. So the challenge for Russia remains to find the solutions to her challenges within herself, to do whatever it takes to hold the country together until her people are once again able to stand tall on their own. It’s a slow process, full of pitfalls.
The United States had an option during the 1990s: to regard Russia in a manner similar to both Germany and Japan after the end of World War II and help her gradually rebuild around democratic principles and pre-disposed toward cooperation with the West within a strong meaningful defense partnership, or to leave the task to impetuous others. Such an investment in Russia would have paid dividends immensely greater than the mega-bucks wasted in Old Europe. Rather than walk away from a “NATO”, whose 20th century job was finished, and forge a new alliance-in-the making designed for the next century, the US elected to retain the same old “Cold” War mindset, and allow others, including European politicians, to regard both Russia and the US as ripe for exploitation and subterfuge.
So now we have, finally, the prospect of the US turning the tables on European duplicitousness, by joining initial European alarm over French and Italian business interests in, and popular emotional concern over, Libya (plus fears of rampant northern African refugee floods into Europe), but only under a carefully worded UN mandate that severely limited the mission, and only after the US President had clearly stated limited US objectives there. While any honest broker cannot fault the larger objective of changing the US-European dynamic, that honest broker can fault the choice of Libya as the requisite leverage point. Libya always has been a “problem” that could not be “solved” with remote control weapons like planes and missiles, but will eventually require the introduction of large numbers of ground forces for a very extended period to maintain stability and help the people form an effective representative government capable of functioning in the 21st century without posing a threat to neighbors. The US military does not have those ground soldiers available, so, if they come, they can only come from the Europeans. If they don’t come, then Libya is destined to remain a “failed and divided” state, a “Somalia-on-the-Med”, for a very long time. And THAT is a problem that screams for US soldiers. What price will any of the women behind this game ever pay? As usual, the hard stuff, the responsibility parts, are for “someone else”. Anyone can scream orders to idiots from the very safe rear. “I’m from Missouri; SHOW me.”
Certainly Europe is not likely to make such a commitment. We need only look at Europe’s largest economy – the linchpin country that, under Merkel, keeps paying huge penalties for running a responsible economy for the past ten years. Germany has been the main party bailing out “troubled” EU economies like Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. The German government has really hated every excruciating step of the grind to get her to fork over the Big Bucks to bail out, for example, Greek bureaucrats who can retire at age fifty on full wages for life. The Merkel government has most reluctantly caved at each step, knowing that, if Germany does not ante up, the Euro will collapse, and that will spell the end of the EU.
Unfortunately, Germany’s own economy is now on shaky ground, and it may very well be that the Euro and the EU are not the only major institutions that could fall victim to the Great Recession. Like Great Britain, the German government under Merkel in 2010 announced major government spending reductions designed to cut an additional 80 billion Euros from its budget over the next four years. Although not as much as what some believe is necessary, these cuts include (1) significant reductions in unemployment benefits, (2) the elimination of 10,000 “public service” (bureaucrat) jobs, AND (3) cutting as many as 100,000 military spaces from its armed forces.
That last item is rather interesting inasmuch as Germany’s total military strength is less than 150,000, so Merkel is planning on cutting the German military by an astounding two-thirds. (It’s rather easy to cut military forces, of course, but it takes at the very least a full decade to get a modern force back on a track toward where they were before the cuts.) Germany has another 100,000 conscripts, but many of those conscripts are actually detailed to menial civil service jobs all over the country (because no one wants to take those jobs even at great wages and even when unemployment is well over 14%). The reduction in unemployment benefits may force a few more German civilians into those nursing home jobs. Besides, as long as the stupid Americans are STILL carrying most of Europe’s defense burden, Germany can probably make such massive military cuts without real military consequence. (Germany’s current military strength: Army: 90,000, Air Force: 42,000, Navy: 16,000, Total: 148,000.)
Germany’s standing military professional corps is too small to do anything plausible on its own without conscripts, but the Germans also reduced the time that conscripts serve from nine to six months. Over the last fifteen years, the size of the force was cut about in half, so that only 17 percent of those eligible are actually drafted, and in recent years many more conscripts chose “civil service” over military service. Since it takes no less than four months to teach anyone to do anything worthwhile in a modern military force, this means that German conscripts are mostly unskilled warm bodies getting paid for standing around taking up space – available primarily to do rote tasks like janitor jobs in elderly care homes. In 2009, for example, a total of 158,859 young men were drafted. Of these, 68,304 (43%) went into “military service”, while pathetically 90,555 (57%) served in “civil service” health care facilities, i.e., they performed menial jobs caring for the institutionalized elderly – certainly not a job you would EVER want women doing. How incredibly stupid German men can still accept a male-only military draft defies reason; those guys are even dumber than American men (who generally are considered the dumbest guys on planet Earth). To save money Germany is also planning to shift to an all-volunteer military force. This essentially means that it will copy the US practice of still requiring all males to register for the draft, but not actually drafting anyone unless a real emergency suddenly arises which the professional military is insufficient to address.
It’s a safe bet that none of those “emergencies” will involve difficult missions outside continental Europe, which probably isn’t all that much of a loss to “NATO” anyway. German forces sent to Afghanistan under “NATO” are prohibited from exposure to dangerous locations or situations and have accomplished nothing toward their non-combat “reconstruction” missions over the past ten years. This is very similar to all the US government civilian agencies given similar non-combat “nation-building” missions while hunkered down in their “Little America” fortified bunkers. (See Comment #3.) These European forces and civilian agencies haven’t even been able to reduce the flow of Afghan heroin into Europe. German soldiers actually use Leopold tanks to travel from one bunker complex to another to ensure safe transit. Almost all German casualties to date have been due to accidents, such as those at firing ranges. US soldiers depend on engaging enemy fighters in combat to hone their accuracy. What military force engages in such elemental training after arrival in a war zone? Yet this is typical of almost all “NATO” member contingents in Afghanistan. (The UK is an exception.) The vast majority of “NATO” “casualties” are actually accidents, often even self-inflicted. The rest are due mostly to tripping home-made bombs – NOT to actual combat operations. All of this is incredibly pathetic for a “military alliance”. The US Army can easily put together a company of American women that can easily out-perform the entire German contingent in Afghanistan.
So the “surge” of US soldiers in Afghanistan announced by President Obama in 2010 was actually made necessary by the failure of our “allies”. They are why the US military, after ten years of their partners’ inability to hold up their end on the mission in Afghanistan, had to start all over again from scratch. And, of course, now every other “NATO partner” is following the German and British examples of cutting defense, and, once again, leaving the US military out there holding the bag.
The Great Recession then, along with Libya, might just accomplish what the Americans were too dumb to accomplish: finally retire that pathetic anachronism still euphemistically called “NATO”, and force the Europeans to step up and defend themselves under their own arrangement independent of the US, while also forcing the US to forge a new alliance actually designed for THIS century with new and better partners. The record clearly shows that the persisting notion of Old European “allies” is a stupid delusion. Any actual partnership with most European countries died with the “Cold” War – twenty years ago. It’s only the Americans who were too dumb to see it. American soldiers have paid far more than enough to provide self-proclaimed “elitists” their vicarious power and self-worth through their sickening imperial “we”. America needs Real Military Allies – not “elitists” OR bureaucrats – for THIS century. America needs to throw away that useless “NATO” absurdity, and start living in today, and tomorrow. The first and most important partner the US military needs is the UK. Next is Russia. Everyone else can fall in line behind them, if they wish, if they are willing to put enough real equity on the table.
Someone please show our caste “elitists” where they can sign up for basic combat training, where they can actually learn something.
Footnote #1. To illustrate the level of phoniness: Almost 85% of “coalition” casualties (over 90% of deaths) in Afghanistan are American, but according to “NATO” rules, they are never identified as American by either “NATO” or European news sources, which always use the term “NATO” to identify their affiliation. This “public relations” ploy purposefully creates an illusion among the continental European public that their military forces are sharing equally in the effort in Afghanistan. Only in each individual country are the casualties, usually due to accidents, identified as being of the individual country’s military forces, and then with considerable fanfare when they return home.
Footnote #2. The US, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Croatia and Albania are in “NATO”, but not the EU. Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Cyprus are in the EU, but not in “NATO”.
Footnote #3. Those European “NATO” countries will now follow China’s example and send in their business sector scouts hoping to sew up fat mining contracts in Afghanistan under perpetual US military protection. The US Army, after eight years of no results from all the high-paid US civilian bureaucrats in Afghanistan, dusted off some old Russian military studies, added some old US military studies, and then conducted new military research to quickly determine that the country is a huge bonanza of mineral mining potential, including rare metals – which, if properly managed, will enable the country to eventually stand quite well on its own. And to think it only took nine years of stupid war to get to the conclusion that was right there for all those bureaucrats from the very beginning.
During the Great Peace Dividend, 1988-94, when the strength of the US military was cut nearly by half, agencies like State and USAID were given significant additional spaces and money in order for them to be able to accomplish any “nation-building” duties that might arise in the future. Obviously, that strategy has not worked. And the solution? These agencies are now asking for MORE spaces and MORE money for such tasks. Nothing succeeds in government better than failure.