America’s disappearing weaponry

America’s enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere have regularly been able to arm themselves with a remarkable range of U.S. weaponry. During the fighting around the city of Tal Afar, the Iraqi military recovered a U.S.-produced FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile and launcher from an Islamic State weapons cache. That’s a weapon capable of taking out an M1 Abrams tank. And this is hardly the first time U.S. anti-tank missiles meant either for the Iraqi military or Syrian rebels backed by the CIA have turned up in the hands of ISIS militants. In 2015, that group released photos of its fighters using U.S.-made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles.

When the American-trained, funded, and armed Iraqi army collapsed in the summer of 2014 in the face of relatively small numbers of ISIS fighters, that group took vast stores of U.S. weaponry and vehicles that they’ve used ever since. But that was hardly the end of it. The U.S. soon began retraining and rearming its Iraqi allies to the tune of $1.6 billion for “tens of thousands of assault rifles, hundreds of armored vehicles, hundreds of mortar rounds, nearly 200 sniper rifles, and other gear,” much of which, a government audit found, the Pentagon simply lost track of. The weaponry, you might say, went missing in action. In 2007 the Government Accountability Office found that “the United States could not account for nearly 30% of the weapons it had distributed in Iraq since 2004 — about 200,000 guns.”
Similar stories could be told about Afghanistan. In short, the Pentagon has been arming itself, its allies, and its enemies.  (Tomgram 12 Sept 2017)

It is quite extraordinary how the majority of Americans are in awe of the military. It’s harmless, and courteous, thanking ex-servicemen for their service (they must get heartily sick of this, and wish the thanks were reflected in their medical care). What is incomprehensible is the lock the military-industrial complex has on every Administration, Congress, State government and nearly all Republican voters. America used to stand for liberty, freedom, the rule of law and reasonably good governance. Now it stands for never-ending warfare that fuels the most important institution in the country – the military. And this military not only cannot win a war, but accidentally loses loads of its weapons, backing the wrong horse on most occasions. And nothing is done about infrastructure, lousy education and many other pressing problems because far too much money is gobbled up by a military machine too big to be managed. The Roman Empire fell under the weight of a military fighting endless wars, while the lifestyle of the average Roman citizen gradually declined.
We have seen this movie before, several times in history. We are watching the end of Ameriican hegemony, and no one seems to do anything about it, maybe cannot.

  • Owen Bell

    Of course American should be far more careful about who it give its guns too. And I agree that American culture is too militaristic, and that military spending should be reduced a bit and spend more efficiently.
    But I’m very concerned about the decline of America as a world power. Lots of people on the Left love to critique American hegemony. And many of those critiques are useful in understanding the shortcomings of recent foreign policy decisions. On the other hand, were America to significantly reduce its presence around the world, other countries would replace it. Iran, Russia and China would all increase their influence. It goes without saying that America’s values, however flawed, are far closer to our own than any other major power. I don’t want to see an America which cannot stand up to its adversaries.