twitterWe have the greatest military in the world…We have given them total authorization…If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that really with what’s happened over the last eight years, you’ll see there’s a tremendous difference. Tremendous difference.–President Donald Trump

Yes, I see a tremendous difference, but nothing to celebrate: War was not the answer in Korea or Vietnam. It wasn’t the answer in Afghanistan or Iraq. It isn’t the answer today in Afghanistan, Korea or Syria.

  • Korea: War in Korea had reached a stalemate. President Eisenhower insisted on a ceasefire which ended the killing. During more than 50 years of relative peace, South Korea at least has prospered.
  • Vietnam: Recall the “domino theory?” We had to fight and win in Vietnam or the whole of SE Asia would be “lost.” We abandoned the war, peace and prosperity followed. The “domino theory” was bunk.
  • Afghanistan: The Russians tried to tame Afghanistan by establishing a proxy government there; they failed. GWB thought he could win cheap by supporting a faction known as the “Northern Alliance;” that led to years of inconclusive war there. President Obama then worked to reduce US involvement in Afghanistan. Can a return to active participation in war there be wise?
  • Iraq: We fought in Iraq; one unsatisfactory government was replaced with another. Conflict continues there.
  • Syria: The Obama Administration resisted pressure to intervene in the Syrian Civil war other than to give limited support to those battling ISIS. The political situation in Syria is complex. Our goal ought to be to seek a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria, not to widen the war there.
  • Korea again:  What good could possibly come from war in Korea even if it caused the rapid collapse of the North Korean government? What would be the cost? What is our exit strategy? What might the Koreans do to thwart our plans?

Nuclear weapons are a threat to life on Earth. There is nothing extraordinary about Korea or Iran that sets them clearly apart from India, Pakistan, Israel, Britain, France, Russia, China, or the USA. Rather than threaten war, we should work for peace and the elimination of these weapons in every country.

Donald Trump is like Sleeping Beauty–waking up after 50 years in dreamland, knowing nothing, with no experience in government, he assiduously sets out to retry mistakes of the past. He needs good advice, but instead relies on his equally naive children.

“Total authorization” is militarism–there is good reason for civilian control of the military. Senior military officers surely know that guns and bombs are no cure for terrorism and insurgency. Civilian officials in the Trump Administration ought to recognize that as well.


About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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2 Responses to Militarism

  1. whungerford says:

    Rep. Capuano (D-MA) on North Korea:
    Reputable media outlets are reporting that “multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials” are indicating military strikes on North Korea are possible if they conduct a nuclear test over the weekend as anticipated. This is too important to go without comment.

    I think it makes sense to start by highlighting my comments in 2002, when Congress was debating the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq with its supposed “weapons of mass destruction”. I pointed out that, in my opinion, North Korea presented the greatest danger to world peace, and the U.S. should focus on containing them. That commentary was ignored and the U.S. invaded Iraq (without my support).

    Although I still believe North Korea presents the greatest danger to world peace, that alone does not authorize unilateral military action against them. There is no prior U.S. war declaration against Korea that the administration can rely on. No one suggests that Al Qaeda or ISIS operates out of North Korea so that cannot be a reason to act against them. Finally, there are no credible reports of any imminent attack by North Korea against the U.S. or our allies.

    All this leads to one conclusion – there is no need and no legal authority for the United States to take military action against North Korea at this time.

    If the President wants to take such action, both the Constitution (Article 1 Section 8) and the law (War Powers Act) clearly require him to come to the Congress for authorization BEFORE taking action.

    Military action absent such authorization and absent an immediate threat is illegal and unconstitutional.

    Let’s hope nothing comes of these reports and the U.S. does not precipitate what could be the most serious military action since World War II. Although they may not be capable of reaching our shores, North Korea does have nuclear weapons. Let’s pray that we can find a more thoughtful path towards a better world.


  2. Deirdre Weaver says:

    Who is the real threat to the American people?
    The U.S. military exposed 200,000 American soldiers to sarin and nerve gas in the First Gulf War.
    These soldiers are now dying.
    A few years ago, it came to light that by not funding the V.A. the two parties killed 307,000
    That’s 507,000 total U.S. soldiers that will have died by the actions of the U.S. government.
    That’s about 91,000 MORE American troops than the Germans, Japanese, and Italians killed in WWII.


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