Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The Global Gangster
American war is heading for the “shadows” in a big way. As news articles have recently made clear, the tip of the Obama administration’s global spear will increasingly be shaped from the ever-growing ranks of U.S. special operations forces.
Although the special ops crew (66,000 people in all) exist on our tax dollars, we’re really not supposed to know anything about what they’re doing -- unless, of course, they choose the publicity venue themselves, whether in Pakistan knocking off Osama bin Laden or parachuting onto Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard to promote Act of Valor. In case you somehow missed the ads, that’s the new film about “real terrorist threats based on true stories starring actual Navy SEALs.” (No names in the credits please!)
Of course, those elite SEAL teams are johnnies-come-lately when compared to their no less secretive “teammates” in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia -- our ever increasing armada of drones. Those robotic warriors of the air (or at least their fantasy doppelgangers) were, of course, pre-celebrated -- after a fashion -- in the Terminator movies. In Washington’s global battle zones, what’s called our “traditional combat role” -- think big invasions, occupations, counterinsurgency -- is going, going, gone with the wind, even evidently in Afghanistan by 2013. War American-style is instead being inherited by secretive teams of men and machines, both hunter-killers who specialize in assassination operations.
And Andrew Bacevich expands on this point...
With the United States now well into the second decade of what the Pentagon has styled an “era of persistent conflict,” the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism (unofficial acronym WFKATGWOT) appears increasingly fragmented and diffuse. Without achieving victory, yet unwilling to acknowledge failure, the United States military has withdrawn from Iraq. It is trying to leave Afghanistan, where events seem equally unlikely to yield a happy outcome.
Elsewhere -- in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, for example -- U.S. forces are busily opening up new fronts. Published reports that the United States is establishing “a constellation of secret drone bases” in or near the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula suggest that the scope of operations will only widen further. In a front-page story, the New York Times described plans for “thickening” the global presence of U.S. special operations forces. Rushed Navy plans to convert an aging amphibious landing ship into an “afloat forward staging base” -- a mobile launch platform for either commando raids or minesweeping operations in the Persian Gulf -- only reinforces the point.