A Troubled Nation Feeds On bin Laden's Corpse
Supplying an army at a distance drains the public coffers and impoverishes the common people.
-- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
With the killing of Osama bin Laden by a 79-member JSOC hunter/killer team inside Pakistan, the nation has entered yet another of those moments when a news media that professes independence has become an unashamed cheerleader for militarism.
No one can deny the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) Seal Team executed its killing mission with great competence and aplomb. They were also lucky that the bin Laden entourage had apparently become so confident of its safety that it was a bit lackadaisical.
Ever since the Desert One debacle in 1980 in Iran, US special operations commanders were determined that the system evolve into a sophisticated program with double and triple backup plans etc. Apparently a motto in the Seals is, you come out of an operation either as “a Zero or a Hero.” In this case, it’s “Hero” in spades.
The competence exhibited by the team is especially welcome in many quarters in the US following a decade noted for too many examples of huge and really bad decisions that were examples of what happens when you link incompetence with great power.
Just to name a few of the big ones: There was the decision to insert into Afghanistan an incredibly expensive army and the creation, there, of an entire government that involved a network of heavily corrupt loyalties that had to be sustained with payoffs and other blandishments. That decision has led to an incredibly wasteful logistical nightmare. Then there was the completely dishonorable decision to invade and occupy Iraq based on dishonestly misdirected 911 revenge politics. Recently, we have added Libya to the list of mission-creep wars; it has gone from a no-fly zone to a palace bombing that killed three of the leader’s grandkids. All this consumes gobs and gobs of tax dollars that could be used in neglected areas at home.
Just to round out the list of disastrous decisions, let’s not forget the elimination of financial regulation begun by President Reagan that led inexorably to the 2007-08 economic meltdown, which was followed by a huge tax-payer bailout of the very pirates who got the nation into the mess in the first place. In that bargain, homeowners were supposed to get help, but it somehow never arrived.
Good people can argue about all this. But what’s not in dispute is that the past decade or two has dropped America into a giant economic hole and put Americans into a general state of fear and anxiety. You see it disaggregated into ones and twos everywhere as people’s expectations are dashed, jobs are lost and homes are foreclosed on.