“The American Military Uncontained” | History News Network

The retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) William J. Astore examines the current role of the U.S. military from the perspective of the 1990s, after we emerged victorious from the Cold War. Rather than gearing down for peacetime Astore shows that the military retained it Cold War size and attitude. But crucially, according to Astore, it also became uncontained as the sole superpower. He argues that after the fall of the Soviet Union the attitude that emerged was one of “go[ing] for broke.” After laying out the consequences of this situation, he warns, “No military should ever be trusted and no military should ever be left uncontained.  Our nation’s founders knew this lesson.  Five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower took pains in his farewell address in 1961 to remind us of it again.  How did we as a people come to forget it?  WTF, America?”
I agree with much of what Astore says, but I see the transition to the present situation a little differently. He makes no differentiation between the humanitarian efforts (or non-efforts to be more accurate) in places like Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda in the 1990s, and the so-called “national security” interests in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen in the twenty-first century.
“Yet even as civilian leaders hankered to flex America’s military muscle in unpromising places like Bosnia and Somalia in the 1990s, and Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen in this century, the military itself has remained remarkably mired in Cold War thinking.”
I think it is a mistake to see this trend beginning in the 1990s. We did NOT “go all in” for the 1990s humanitarian situations. In fact, trying to persuade the Bush (papa) administration and then the Clinton administration to do anything in these situations was like pulling teeth. We only intervened belatedly in the Bosnian War with very little cost or effort after thousands of Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) were slaughtered. We did successfully intervene in Kosovo, but mostly out of guilt for what we didn’t do in Bosnia. We shamefully did nothing in Rwanda. And we pulled out of Somalia, where we were engaged in humanitarian aid, after the first sign of trouble (Black Hawk Down), which played right into the hands of the Somalian warlords. So, I think it is misleading to include Madeleine Albright’s plea to send in troops to the former Yugoslavia as evidence of the “all in” attitude in regards to the military. In all these cases, those in power did everything they could to make sure we didn’t use the military. Why? Because these were humanitarian causes and the “Vietnam Syndrome” was still alive and well. These were the cases we should have intervened, but didn’t. So much for “never again”!
The hawks that Astore refers to care little for humanitarian interventions and were happy to intervene in what they saw as “national security” situations (e.g. The Gulf War). But I think it was something else that turned the tide toward the intervention everywhere attitude: 9/11. Presently the fear of terrorism ensures that this attitude will continue to prevail.
However, I agree with his conclusion “Take an uncontained, mutating military, sprinkle it with unconditional love and plenty of dough, and you have a recipe for disaster.” Read the entire article here:

History News Network | The American Military Uncontained.


“The War over War” |History News Network

Peter Turchin, professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Connecticut, weighs in on the debate over Steven Pinker’s claim that “we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence” (The Better Angels of Our Nature). Read part one of his critique:

History News Network | The War over War.



The Massacre at Srebrenica: What Does the Situation Look Like Almost Twenty Years Later?

It had been a long time since I had thought about Srebrenica or the war in Bosnia, so when I saw Scott Anderson’s article in The New York Times Magazine (“Life in the Valley of Death”) this past weekend I was hoping for an optimistic update. I should have known better. It is difficult to heal from such traumatic events. The war in Bosnia had been raging since 1992 and the Bosniak refugees in the so-called UN protected “safe area” of Srebrenica were war weary, homeless, and hungry long before Ratko Mladic and his Bosnian Serb army showed up in July 1995. The massacre of 8,000 men at Srebrenica that followed was the beginning of the end of the Serbian campaign of ethnic cleansing. The elimination of the Muslim island in the Serbian sea opened the way for the peace talks at Dayton, Ohio that November. Continue reading