More and more war

Breaking news: the U.S. Air Force is running out of ordinary bombs, smart bombs, and in some cases missiles. No kidding. The air war over Syria and Iraq that began in August 2014 and is now two-and-a-half years old has eaten through America’s supply of bombs. The usual crew of weapons makers evidently can’t produce such munitions fast enough to keep up, so the U.S. military is, for instance, cutting into its stockpiles of smart bombs in Asia to send some to the Middle East and Africa simply to keep pace with demand — and, according to recent reports, it may nonetheless be failing to do so. In the era of Donald Trump, the generals are increasingly running their own wars, and seem to be ramping them up further.

Everywhere you look, from Yemen to Iraq, Syria to Somalia, the American military is growing more assertive as civilian casualties rise and constraints of any sort, whether on special operations raids, drone strikes, or the use of the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal, fall away. America’s longest war, in Afghanistan, is being lost again as the Taliban has gained ascendancy and the U.S.-trained, supplied, and backed Afghan military had become increasingly battered. So face is being preserved by sending 3,000 to 5,000 more U.S. troops there to train the Afghan military. Yes, you read that right. Almost 16 years after the invasion and “liberation” of Afghanistan in 2001, the solution to the never-ending war there is to send in a few thousand more U.S. military personnel to work with a force filled with “ghost soldiers,” into which this country has already reportedly poured $71 billion and which has suffered both staggering casualties and startling desertion rates in recent years. How do you think that’s likely to go? Once those troops are there, one thing that will certainly be needed: more bombs and missiles to support their activities.

Whether in Afghanistan or in Syria and Iraq, where thE massive air campaign against the Islamic State is now well into its third year, it has Contributed to the rubblization of major cities across both of those countries. The Islamic State is not yet defeated, and the region is now in genuine chaos, overrun by millions of uprooted refugees from countries increasingly in ruins and in disarray. What started as a “war” against al-Qaeda, a modest-sized group of fanatics largely located in Afghanistan, has now become a catastrophe stretching from Afghanistan to the former state of Libya in North Africa and beyond. As ever, the American solution to this crisis, as Sjursen points out, is: more! (An edited version of TomGram May 11, 2017).

Meanwhile, back home, the poor are getting poorer, the rich richer, the sick are having, by the look of it, their healthcare taken away, and the “savings” devoted to the top 1% on the specious theory that it will reinvigorate the economy. It never has before when it’s been tried. Talk to an economist about the rich and the marginal propensity to save. If you are not convinced, put a note on this blog and I will ask my economist wife to explain the economic facts of life.