“The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war.” – Quadrennial Defense Review Report (February 6, 2006)
“No nation has ever profited from a long war.” – Sun Tzu (long ago)
The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report noted that it was “imperative” for the Department of Defense to “hedge against uncertainty over the next 20 years.” The DoD will have to hedge a sight longer than 20 years if John McCain gets himself elected in November. McCain has “no objection” to American troops staying in Iraq for a hundred, a thousand, or heck, make it an even million years. He’s not likely to meet a lot of resistance to that policy from the Pentagon. Ten thousand centuries’ worth of job security doesn’t grow on trees.
Our old playmates Russia and China won’t object to McCain’s plans for a million-year replay of the Cold War either. The only concern they have on that score is McCain’s penchant for either changing his mind or forgetting what he said in the first place.
Brave New World Order
A new world order emerged when Mr. Gorbachev brought down the Berlin Wall. The next world order began when U.S. psyop forces staged the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue. From that point, it became apparent that America’s military might meant little without a peer force to compete against.
Desperate to designate a new boogey man, the Bush administration pulled a country out of its hat whose gross domestic product and defense budget are barely six percent of America’s. In its 2006 National Security Strategy, the administration asserted, “We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran.”
Admiral William Fallon, outgoing chief of Central Command, gave us a far more ingenuous assessment of the Iranians. “These guys are ants,” he told Thomas P.M. Barnett of Esquire magazine. “When the time comes, you crush them.”
True enough, but if we crush Iran, what then? Leveling Tehran will only make us look like bigger jerks than we already do. We could whack Iran’s navy, but we did that in the late 80s during the tanker wars and it didn’t do us much good–they still have a navy, and it’s a better one than they had then. It’s doubtful we can bomb all of Iran’s nuclear industry. Whatever part of it we can get at the Russians can rebuild for them fairly quickly, and Iran can afford to pay them to do it because all the stealth bombers in the U.S. Air Force inventory carrying all the deep penetrators in the arsenal can’t put a dent in Iran’s oil reserves.
Plus, if we smack down Iran, whom do we get to replace them as our greatest “challenge?” We’d pretty much have to reach for a fictional bad guy like Eastasia or maybe even Lilliput. The administration doesn’t want to paint Iran’s patrons Russia and China as too much of a threat because we supposedly already beat them up. It’s embarrassing enough for Bush and the Cheney Gang that they can’t win the wars they started; they don’t want to admit that they’ve gone and retroactively lost the Cold War as well.
The 2006 QDR report says that “Of the major and emerging powers, China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States,” but that’s cover smoke to give our nuclear submarines and stealth bombers a reason to exist other than being the most expensive means imaginable for assassinating terrorists. It may be that, as the report says, “The outside world has little knowledge of Chinese motivations and decision-making,” but the Chinese have a long end eminently scrutable track record. They had sufficient ancient wisdom to stay out of the arms race of the first Cold War, and they know better than to change strategies for the second one.
The QDR report ominously tells us that, “Since 1996, China has increased its defense spending by more than 10% in real terms in every year except 2003.” Great Caesar’s ghost, if that’s the best the Pentagon’s propaganda wiz kids can come up with, they need to find themselves a new bull to pluck.
America’s defense spending has more than doubled since 2001. We spend darn near as much on defense as the rest of the world combined. China’s defense budget is about 17 percent of ours, and keep in mind that China isn’t building on the “best-trained, best-equipped” military “on the face of the earth.” They’re still replacing the force structure they had around the time that they shot down William Holden in The Bridges of Toko Ri. There’s no percentage in trying to catch up with us. It’s impossible. The Soviets came off their wartime economy in the early nineties and the Chinese had the good sense to never go on one. The only way they could obtain an arsenal to match ours would be to buy it from the only nation left with a viable arms industry, which would be us.
And why should they bother to do that? Strategically, they’ve already got us where they want us. They can sit back and let us be the ones who pour ever-increasing hordes of national treasure into the Middle East sand trap we’ve created for ourselves and on extravagant weaponry that doesn’t protect our shores or win our overseas wars. They can let us double our national debt every six or eight years while we engage them in the most lopsided economic warfare in the history of nations: they buy our debt; we buy their poisoned toys and feed them to our kids.
But look on the bright side. The long war may not last so long after all. At the rate we’re going, Cold War II won’t last a million years, or even the 50 years the first Cold War lasted, before our economy consumes itself.
Heck, John McCain might even live to see the end of it.