Tuesday, February 06, 2007

AMERICA'S THE HAMMER, THE REST OF YA ARE NAILS: Strategic appetite for destruction

In a Los Angeles Times story from yesterday, "Defense budget: big as a tank," our military chiefs were trotted forth to explain how the most gargantuan military budget in the history of the world needs to be expanded. Of course, that's expected when things are going bad.

Whenever there are nails in the world no longer receptive to being hammered because they've been hammered in as far as they can go, or they're bent over, a ruined wart of metal -- like Iraq -- it's not time to stop hammering. It's time to get a bigger hammer!

So DD is going to skip all the funny massaging of figures and ass backwards way of looking at budget requests the Times reporter, Peter Spiegel, is compelled to trot out to make readers think national defense is sliding into penury and soon we won't have a regiment of tanks to defend your home on Maple Street.

A navy admiral, Michael G. Mullen, spoke to the Times -- and here he used a very funny term, a Strangelovian one, to explain why the US military needs to buy a bigger hammer.

". . . it just isn't enough for the strategic appetite, and the strategic appetite is tied directly to the world we're living in."

Whoah, Nelly! Strategic appetite!

Webster's defines "appetite:" "a desire to satisfy some craving."

DD has no idea where Mullen comes from. He certainly has nothing in common with anyone I've ever met, twisting around the need to explain why the Pentagon needs more money by framing it as a craving for strategic reach.

It's not enough that the US military can maim any other conventional military in the world within a couple weeks of red hot strategic no-holds barred action. We need more. We hunger for more. How well-reasoned.

Spiegel doesn't bat an eye at the quote. Most of our defense journalists never would. What they would do, and this is what occurs, is then to produce some brief exposition that supports the illogical, that is -- makes it sound normal, rather than pathological.

One expects to see words like "challenges" to explain things and this is exactly what is written.

" . . . the challenges presented by other adversaries," claims the newspaper.

Other adversaries, you see, always present challenges. And not challenges meaning that beating them to a pulp presents a challenge that the current US military can rise to but a challenge in the sense that there is a need for more to cover things people can't even think of, just in case.

For example, the nail is not particularly well defined, or even looked at from the nail's point of view.

Would not Iran or North Korea currently find it challenging to face the US military?

Well, of course they would! As GS Senior Fellow, DD bets they'd be challenged right up to the point of extirpation.

There is one argument that Spiegel trots out, allegedly gained by interview, that is worth listening to. But as usual, it's glued on backwards.

The needs of the strategic appetite are "...in part, a reflection of a view held by many throughout the armed services that the military is the only US institution bearing the burden of the Iraq war. In interviews and in comments reported by superior officers, many veterans have argued that the US hardly seems like a country at war, with civilians making little sacrifice even as troops put their lives on the line."

That's true. The current US model is to wage war without involving everyone and our military men have had a decades working long and hard with political leaders in the crafting of it.

The argument is a stupid one to make without asking what exactly are you, or me, supposed to do about it. Send letters and care packages?

DD has read, until sick to death, of how the US military doesn't want a drafted military force. Yet a drafted force won World War II.

In the recently published book, Sea of Thunder, it is amply illustrated that US waged war in the Pacific alone with much more of a military and national investment than is present in today's conflict in Iraq. In fact, the US deployment to Iraq, in fighting manpower on the ground, isn't even equivalent to Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps, one of the Wehrmacht's smaller world theatre commitments, before we and the English drove the Nazis out of North Africa in WWII.

The answer to the argument is a political third rail: STFU and call for a draft. If you're unwilling to have a national debate on it, have the good grace to stop pleading to get more into everyone's wallet in order to buy more toys.

Read your own damn war histories. Stop playing dumb with the salesmen. It is nothing more than a charade to complain about the entire country not bearing the brunt of the war when one is unwilling to discuss it in terms other than begging for more money.

If the military wants to establish a bigger strategic reserve in manpower because it is necessary to satisfy a strategic appetite, a good way to do it is to have a draft. The best military in the world isn't just an all volunteer force.

DD is sure there must be many people in the US military who would welcome, might even encourage, such a debate. What exactly is the strategic appetite? And does the craving need to be satsified or should it be treated, like a disease, by maybe putting in the equivalent of a stomach staple. So why can't we hear from more military men instead of just the Mullens on strategic appetites?

Note: Once again, DD will not send you to the Los Angeles Times website. As explained previously, the LAT runs a web presence that is reader hostile and often illogical. It withdraws content behind registration walls that are not enforced throughout the parent company. Therefore, if you cannot read a story by one of its reporters on-line, you simply go to another paper in the chain, like the Baltimore Sun.

The link here -- of the original LA Times piece discussed above, is just one such example.

It's a damn shame, and fundamentally absurd that the reporter who wrote the story which was distributed throughout the chain cannot be read by all on his own newspaper site.

Why is this? Ask them, they're the ones with the idiot's strategy for on-the-web news. DD is a subscriber to the print version of the Los Angeles Times and enjoys his copy everyday over an early lunch.

Earlier stories of interest: Sea of Thunder and Operation Radiating Rubble.


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