Swans Commentary » swans.com July 4, 2005  



Prelude To A Military Disengagement


by Philip Greenspan






(Swans - July 4, 2005)  Public opinion polls are disclosing a significant shift taking place. A majority now opposes the administration's war policies. The rising numbers of casualties, the ever-increasing monumental costs, the exposure of the administration's lies, the realization that hostilities will continue for a long time are some of the factors that are shrinking pro-war enthusiasm.

Many establishment groups prefer Bush's war policy but more compelling considerations force them to abandon their strong pro-war position. Politicians, anticipating an election next year, are hedging their bets. Retaining their jobs takes precedence over every other issue. Those pusillanimous Democrats are finally regaining their courage. Right after 9/11, when it seemed everyone had to support Bush to survive politically, they not only shamefully granted Bush a blank check for war but unsuccessfully pressured Barbara Lee, the sole dissenter, to switch her vote. They actually thought the poor girl was off her rocker. Two of Bush's loyal and patriotic Republicans, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, aspirants for a presidential run in 2008, are becoming outspoken critics of his handling of the war; and Walter Jones, the North Carolina congressman who turned "French fries" into "freedom fries" in the House cafeteria, now wants to pull the troops out.

The moguls of the news media are realizing that to maintain credibility they cannot continue selling the lies, distortions and omissions of the Bush gang. Newspaper readership is dropping. To retain current readers, regain lost readers and gain new ones, newspapers can no longer ignore or falsify important stories. They must bring back investigative journalism à la Woodward and Bernstein.

With bad news frequently confronting him and loyal supporters slipping away will Bush trim his sails? Is a withdrawal of troops from Iraq in the cards? Don't bet on it.

The current situation may very well be a replay of the Vietnam experience. As the Vietnam War dragged on, public support dwindled and the anti-war forces grew in numbers and strength. Johnson, the sitting president, realized his own party might reject him in the primaries. Accordingly, he threw in the sponge. The next president would be the candidate who could convince the electorate that he would end hostilities honorably and expeditiously. Humphrey, unwilling to criticize his benefactor's wartime policies until late in the game, came up short. Nixon eked out the win by claiming that he had a plan to end the war. But tricky Dick had no such intent. He would persist until Ho cried "uncle." It never happened. Protests grew in size, frequency, and intensity. Four years transpired. Not only did the war continue but Nixon spread it to Laos and Cambodia. Instead of ending the slaughter, the casualties on all sides grew.

The war could have ended in 1968. Negotiations were on the verge of success but Nixon's underhanded tactics undermined them. By maintaining those negotiations and slowly withdrawing GIs he was able to prolong the war.

It took a massive and unprecedented mutiny by the troops to effectively end any real belligerency. Over the years that military breakdown has been covered up but the details were described by historian Col. Robert D. Heinl, Jr. in a June 1971 article, "The Collapse of the Armed Forces." (1)

To prevent such an intolerable situation from recurring, numerous caveats were adopted for future military operations. 1) Create a volunteer military force. Instead of relying on unwilling draftees, recruits committed to a military career would serve instead. Wars would be staged 2) against weak enemies 3) who could be beaten easily 4) in a short operation 5) with ample forces to complete the job.

The neocons ignored the superior knowledge and experience of military advisors who insisted that insufficient troops were being deployed for the desired tasks. As a result, Afghanistan and Iraq have not been pacified, troop casualties are soaring, and a long war is expected -- a war that with the passing of time erodes support of the public.

A change of the neocons' reckless actions would be logical and reasonable. But Dubya and his gang are ideologues who are determined to continue on their precarious adventures. He disregards the slanders thrown his way because he did not tell any lies. He really believes everything he says. After all, he is the agent of God. How could he possibly be wrong?

According to Scott Ritter, war against Iran has already started. US drones are flying over the country, a CIA-backed Iranian opposition group is bombing remote areas of Iran, and preparations are taking place in Azerbaijan for use of that country as a base for air and ground operations. (2) It is business as usual.

But business cannot continue as usual because it is creating a situation akin to the Vietnam mutiny -- a mutiny that drained the lifeblood out of the military! Right now, military manpower is inadequate for its current assignments. Casualties, shortfalls in recruitment, and reenlistments, AWOLs, desertions and claims for conscientious objector status are decreasing these understaffed numbers.

A definition of mutiny: "open rebellion against constituted authority especially by soldiers or sailors against their officers" effectively lowers existing manpower. Aren't such reductions that drain the lifeblood out of the military equivalent to a mutiny?

A couple of mutinies have already been reported. Several months ago 17 army reservists refused what they considered a "suicide mission" to deliver fuel. Earlier this month a soldier has been charged with killing two officers in an army compound. In addition there have been other manpower losses by conscientious objectors, AWOLs and desertions. At the court marshal of conscientious objector Pablo Paredes, a naval petty officer, the presiding judge, after hearing all the testimony, convicted him of refusing to ship out to Iraq but also stated, "I think the government has successfully proved that any seaman recruit has reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal." (3) Paredes is the first of many GIs who will be making a C.O. claim. Last year, 32,200 calls were received by a hot line from soldiers who don't want to go to Iraq. Most are currently AWOL or deserters. About 5,500 troops have gone AWOL or deserted since the invasion of Iraq. (4)

In desperation, the draft will be invoked. But, if anything, this will stir up hostility to military adventures more quickly and with greater vehemence than any of the neocons' previous blunders. Before Congress even starts deliberations the cries from prospective draftees and their families will inundate the legislators. Sentiments against the war are so strong that earlier this month the New York Times printed a story of parents' anti-recruiting efforts on the front page above the fold. (5) Psychologically, conscription should have been enacted after 9/11 when the pro-war emotions were at their height. When the North resorted to a draft in March 1863 all hell broke loose. Rioting broke out in cities throughout the north. The pandemonium in New York City lasted four days, required federal troops to support the police, and resulted in between 1.5 and 2 million dollars damage and an unknown number of deaths estimated as high as 1,000.

Could the ersatz cowboy be heading for the last roundup? Not to worry. Like the hero in each Saturday's episode at the Bijou who seemed to be finished just as that reel finished but emerged next week without a scratch and as energetic as ever, landslide George will come out whole. Remember, he has connections in very high places. So help him GOD!

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1.  "The Collapse of the Armed Forces"; Col. Robert D. Heinl, Jr.; North American Newspaper Alliance; Armed Forces Journal, 7 June, 1971.
http://www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/Vietnam/heinl.html  (back)

2.  "The US War with Iran Has Already Begun"; Scott Ritter.
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7896BBD4-28AB-48BA-A949-2096A02F864D.htm  (back)

3.  "Navy Judge Finds War Protest Reasonable"; Marjorie Cohn.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/051305X.shtml  (back)

4.  "How Many Have Gone to War"; Mark Benjamin.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2005/050412-gone-to-war.htm  (back)

5.  "Growing Problem for Military Recruiters: Parents"; Damien Cave; New York Times; 12 June 2005.
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0603-02.htm  (back)


Internal Resources

America the 'beautiful' on Swans

Patterns which Connect Swans


About the Author

Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published July 4, 2005