The Children’s Crusade

"It really boils down to one of two decisions, getting out or getting in."
– President Lyndon Johnson, speaking about Vietnam

"Soldiers came to school today," announced the kindergarten kid. “They only kill bad people. They don’t kill good people.” This story comes to us by way of Jon Letman of The kindergarten kid is his 5-year-old son.

Letman relates that:

"In his book The Limits of Power, Boston University history professor and retired Army Col. Andrew J. Bacevich describes a near future in which the U.S. is in an almost constant state of war. He writes, ‘Rather than brief interventions ending in decisive victory, sustained presence will be the norm. … The future will be one of small wars, expected to be frequent, protracted, perhaps perpetual.’ If Bacevich’s bleak assessment proves true, it’s no wonder the National Guard sees value in chatting up kindergarteners."

The 50-year Long War embraced by the Pentagon and its allies in the military-industrial-congressional complex is by far the most insidious policy ever dealt to the American public from the bottom of the deck. Sun Tzu noted more than 2,000 years ago that no nation ever profited from a long war.

Reuters reports, "U.S. defense spending in coming years must rise roughly six percent on average from the record sum sought by President Barack Obama this year just to meet current plans." So much for the peace dividend Big Daddy Bush promised us.

War has become America’s top export. Military recruiting is through the roof because of the poor economy. How pathetic it is that the most powerful nation on earth has nothing to offer its youth but war. Even more pathetic is the kind of war the nation has to offer them.

COIN, the acronym for counterinsurgency, has replaced air power and nuclear weapons as the latest "truth" in American warfare. COIN’s basic premise calls for "effective governance by a legitimate government." We don’t have effective or legitimate governance in Iraq or Afghanistan, and we’re not going to have it. Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite government will never "unify" with the Sunni and Kurd factions in Iraq, and Hamid Karzai’s Afghan government is a mob of drug dealers and warlords. We’re fighting wars that by our own definition are doomed to fail.

We’re fighting junk wars to prop up junk governments with junk strategies and we’re giving our kids junk body armor to fight them with.

And we’re recruiting children to keep these wars alive for as long as we can.

God help America.

House Minority Leader John Boehner and 14 other jackdaw Republicans have written a letter to President Obama about his "long overdue" decision about Afghanistan. "For over two months you have been engaged in a strategy review that has left the country, our military, and allies uncertain about your commitment to the war in Afghanistan and unsure about your will to do what is necessary to win this conflict," the letter reads.

There is no winning our conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq. We can pour national treasure and the blood of our young into those two sinkholes, two of the most corrupt countries on the planet, from now until kingdom come, and we won’t accomplish a gnat’s whisker’s bit of good.

The New York Times says that the U.S. has spent $53 billion on "relief and reconstruction" in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. The projects in include "tens of thousands of hospitals, water treatment plants, electricity substations, schools, and bridges."

But, but, but, "there are growing concerns among American officials that Iraq will not be able to adequately maintain the facilities once the Americans have left, potentially wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardizing Iraq’s ability to provide basic services to its people."

So we have to stay there forever. Jolly old fun.

"Exacerbating the problem," says the Times, "Iraqi and American officials say that hundreds of thousands of Iraq’s professional class have fled or been killed during the war, leaving behind a population with too few doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, and others."

Who chased them out? Not Saddam Hussein. He’s deader than a door latch.

We may or may not manage to skulk our way out of Iraq. If the Pentagon has its way, we won’t. Desert Ox Ray Odierno, the American commander in Iraq, thinks the insurgency in that country may go on for another 15 years.

Underfed and sleep-deprived Stan McChrystal, our loopy commander in Afghanistan, wants to build a combined force of U.S., NATO, and Afghan troops of over a half million to pull off a nation-birthing project that will never end.

None of the wars we’re fighting have anything to do with our national security. Like it or not, the folks who have kept another 9/11 from happening are the folks in our Homeland Security apparatus – the FBI, NORAD, FAA, and the rest of the alphabet soup agencies that should have kept 9/11 from happening in the first place.

That military recruiters are aggressively targeting the kindergarten generation should alarm all of us. We "don’t kill good people"? Pluck me in the heart. We kill more civilians than bad guys. We create more bad guys than we kill.

We need to shut down the Pentagon’s Long War, and we need to keep military recruiters from molesting children.

If you haven’t seen it already, you must watch the Bill Moyers PBS show on how president Lyndon Johnson got sucked into the Vietnam War. Moyers gives us some extraordinary telephone conversation transcripts. LBJ knew escalating the war was a bad idea, but he feared that his Republican opponents, most notably Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, would rain bull poop on him if he didn’t do whatever Gen. William Westmoreland wanted him to do.

Like Mark Twain, I don’t believe that history repeats itself, but it often rhymes. President Obama has an opportunity to avoid LBJ’s tragic mistake. Let’s hope he takes it. I don’t want today’s preschoolers fighting in Afghanistan when they’re teenagers.

Author: Jeff Huber

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (retired), was a naval flight officer who commanded an aircraft squadron and was operations officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier that fought the Kosovo War. Jeff earned a master of arts degree in post-modern imperialism at the U.S. Naval War College. His weekly satires on U.S. foreign policy high jinks are archived at his blog, Pen and Sword. Jeff's critically applauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon of America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Jeff lives with dogs in a house by the beach on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, and in the summer he has a nice tan.