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From TomDispatch: Nick Turse, What the U.S. Military Can’t Do
Posted by Tom Engelhardt on October 22nd, 2009

From TomDispatch today: As everyone in Washington focuses on the right strategy for winning the war in Afghanistan, Nick Turse asks the most basic question: Can the U.S. military win a war, any war? The answer is: probably not — Nick Turse, “Obama’s Choice, Failed War President or the Prince of Peace?”

Nick Turse, TomDispatch regular, Ridenhour Prize winner, military expert, regularly heads for the basic questions that are rarely asked. He begins his latest post this way: “When the Nobel Committee awarded its annual peace prize to President Barack Obama, it afforded him a golden opportunity seldom offered to American war presidents: the possibility of success. Should he decide to go the peace-maker route, Obama stands a chance of really accomplishing something significant. On the other hand, history suggests that the path of war is a surefire loser. As president after president has discovered, especially since World War II, the U.S. military simply can’t seal the deal on winning a war.”

Turse’s piece then focuses on what the U.S. military can do — deliver destruction and punishment — and what, historically over the last half century, it has been remarkably unable to do from Korea and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan — deliver a genuine military victory. Turse runs through this dismal history in his usual vivid fashion, concluding thusly:

“More than 100 years after their early counterinsurgency efforts on two tiny islands in the Philippines, U.S. troops are still dying there at the hands of Muslim guerillas. More than 50 years later, the U.S. still garrisons the southern part of the Korean peninsula as a result of a stalemate war and a peace as yet unmade. More recently, the American experience has included outright defeat in Vietnam, failures in Laos and Cambodia; debacles in Lebanon and Somalia; a never-ending four-president-long war in Iraq; and almost a decade of wheel-spinning in Afghanistan without any sign of success, no less victory. What could make the limits of American power any clearer?… The blood and futility of this American past ought to be apparent to Nobel Peace Prize-winner Obama, even if his predecessors have been incredibly resistant to clear-eyed assessments of American power or the real consequences of U.S. wars. Two paths stretch out before this first-year president. Two destinations beckon: peace or failure.”

This is an instant Turse classic. Don’t miss it.

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