L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 218, April 7, 2003
WHILE THE WAR SHINES
Which Two Wars?
Exclusive to TLE
Post-Cold War military doctrine, as stated in the 1993 "Bottom-Up Review" and the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review, requires that the United States be prepared to fight two regional conflicts, almost simultaneously, with little or no warning and little or no help from our allies. Some commentators point out that we are uncomfortably close to testing the worth of these plans. A brief examination suggests that we have already progressed far beyond fighting two large-scale wars.
Our attention is presently fixated on Iraq, where a force of roughly 90,000 troops is being supplemented by another 100,000 or so in the next weeks and months. Some critics of the war effort and plans point out that most of those additional troops were intended for the occupation of Iraq after defeat of the Hussein regime. Now it seems that the Iraqi citizens are unable to show their preferences for rule at the point of America guns over rule at the point of Iraqi guns, and as a result the occupation forces may see considerable combat. Whatever the outcome, the fact that plans called for an occupation force as large or larger than the initial invasion force illustrates a useful rule of thumb for any overseas deployment. If a given number of soldiers are required for the deployment, military planners will require a mobilization three times that size. Roughly speaking, one-third will be organizing for deployment, one-third will be deployed, and one-third will be de-mobilizing after returning home.
Iraq and its occupation are far from our only challenge, and American armed forces were substantially reduced during the Clinton terms. There is active combat in Afghanistan, as shown by recent attacks staged by 1,000 American troops and associated American casualties. Iran and Syria are potential new fronts in the invasion of Iraq, and of course North Korea and Pakistan are now demonstrating the utility of small, impoverished countries developing nuclear weapons. Curious as to how many troops we have available to fight the growing number of conflicts, I downloaded the latest publicly available report on US troop strengths. You can get your own copy at [ pdf link]
The report breaks down active duty military personnel by country and service as of December 31, 2001. At that time, there were a total of about 1.4 million active duty men and women in the US Armed Forces.
Invasion and Occupation of Iraq:
MSNBC reports on March 27, 2003 that "Pentagon officials estimate there are 270,000 U.S. troops in the gulf region and 90,000 coalition troops inside Iraq." Keep in mind that if we need 100,000 troops as an occupation force, it will tie up 300,000 total. If the Iraqis prove as difficult and elusive as Al Queda and the impoverished and ignorant Taliban, which are still forcing us to send out battle groups 1,000 strong over 18 months after we started invading Afghanistan, then 100,000 may not be nearly enough.
Invasion and Occupation of Afghanistan:
Current troop levels in Afghanistan are not widely reported. MSNBC estimates about 9,000 US troops deployed in early 2003, engaged in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
The occupation of the Balkans:
Many empires have broken their teeth on this mountainous region. As of Dec. 31, 2001 we had over 8,300 troops stationed in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Serbia. Our now-alienated allies constitute the bulk of this particular occupation force, with some 40,000 troops stationed in the region.
The occupation of Kuwait:
Remember the first Gulf War? The one were we defended the Kuwaiti dictator's right to slant-drill into Iraqi oil fields? We still had 4,300 troops there in Dec. 2001, though of course now we have many more. It seems quite likely that those oil fields will need substantial protection for many years, if not many decades.
The occupation of Saudi Arabia:
The Saudis learned the hard way that it is much easier to invite the US military in than it is to ask them to leave. We had 5,300 troops in the home of 15 of the 19 hijackers. There are probably many more now, but even the 5,300 was enough to motivate Osama bin Laden to recruit his fellow countrymen and mount his attacks.
The occupation of South Korea:
There were 32,972 US troops in Korea, just short of five decades after the cease-fire. Given North Korea's ambitions and our name-calling, high-handed diplomacy, you can expect those numbers to go up, very fast and very soon.
The occupation of Japan:
36,691 troops almost 60 years after an unconditional surrender. A fair accounting would include the 12,500 afloat in the region, and with North Korea acting like a sovereign nation, there's little reason to believe that this number will go down. All told, we had some 90,822 armed forces personnel in the East Asia and Pacific region. The necessity of a force this large half a century after the end of hostilities does not give much hope for our early disengagement from Iraq (or Afghanistan, or Kuwait, or...)
The occupation of Germany:
71,434 troops on Dec. 31, 2001. They must be a troublesome people, especially compared to the French, where we find a force of 70 to be sufficient.
The occupation of Italy:
Italy hosted 11,854 US troops. Maybe there are benefits to belonging to an "axis."
John Cleese makes a good case: see [ here] and countless other sites.
The occupation of the UK:
Well, the Brits are still friends of the fedgov, at least until Tony Blair has to face the music back home, so it's probably not polite to use the word occupation to describe a force of 11,361 heavily armed Americans in the UK. Europe and the UK host a grand total of 118,149 troops, with nearly 5,000 afloat.
One interesting point is the low US force levels in Sub-Saharan Africa: 259 troops for the entire region. Perhaps they need to form an axis.
Occupations are far from the only thing that armed forces do, they are just tremendously expensive and logistically demanding. If one applies the 3x rule (one mobilizing, one deployed, one demobilizing) we need a force of some 600,000 just to sustain the older occupation forces. Adding about 3x 150,000 for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, we're going to need to keep well over a million men and women dedicated to overseas commitments for the foreseeable future. With a total military population of 1.4 million in 2001, it may be that we're getting spread a little thin. Of course, we can (and already have) called up Reserve troops, but when history shows that we don't leave our conquered foes for 50 years or more after the end of hostilities, clearly we will need still more men and women in uniform to meet these ever-growing obligations.
The War on Iraq is far from our only war. Most of the occupations have the benefit of relatively few killed in action, prisoners of war, and casualties, but there are plenty of active combat zones at home and abroad.
The War on Terrorism:
A clever construct with an undefined enemy and no definition of victory that will give license for the destruction of civil liberties, increased taxation, and untold damage to the domestic and global economy for decades to come. Already the "security" gauntlet deployed at US airports keeps flyers away in large number, bankrupting pretty much all the airlines and damaging business and free trade. Some commentators have pointed out that adding 2-hour delays at airports means that we do more economic damage every few weeks than the attacks of September 11.
In the near future we can anticipate attacks on the other "Axis of Evil" members. We already have Iran in a nice pincer, if only we can hold onto Iraq and Afghanistan. Then comes North Korea, and after that no one knows. On the home front, we've detained some thousands, but since they are "illegal combatants" we don't know who or where they are. We do know that at least one US citizen has been disappeared: taken on US soil, thrown in a brig, and denied access to lawyer or courts. More are sure to follow, particularly after we finish showing 1 billion Muslims what is planned for their future.
The War on Caucasians:
This war is the reason that the little old ladies at the airport get wand-raped while the young Middle Eastern males walk on unmolested. Sometimes called the War on Racial Profiling, but this is misleading as it is perfectly acceptable to profile the white race. This war has progressed quite a long way with very little attention. People have been sentenced to jail for using racial epithets. We've seen white drivers of white vans dragged from their vehicles at gunpoint and handcuffed on the highway pavement during the DC sniper hysteria. This occurred some weeks after detailed eyewitness reports were collected by police describing two short-haired black men giving high-fives to each other while driving slowly away from the first sniper shooting in a beat-up dark sedan.[ link]
Casualties and prisoners are not tallied as far as I can tell. The airlines are (perhaps deserving) casualties as their product is now unfit for consumption by a free people. Quotas, set-asides, and other economic and social damages are widespread but difficult to quantify.
The War on Drugs:
This war already involves many military assets, but the bigger effect is the number of civilian casualties and prisoners of war. Casualties are not tallied but certainly are several thousands or tens of thousands each year, mostly from black market turf battles and the associated collateral damages, plus consumer deaths from impure goods. Unusual casualties like shooting down missionaries and their infant children get more press, but the blood flows in American streets every day. Corruption of law enforcement and the justice system is endemic to the point that getting a fair trial by an impartial jury in a drug case is effectively impossible.
The rule of law was an early casualty. California voters, who apparently still believe the outdated propaganda that "if you don't like the law, organize and vote to get it changed," provided a recent, rather powerful demonstration. They organized and lobbied and voted, but unelected fedgov agents and judges decided to ignore state law and the explicit limits placed on them by the federal constitution. The feds won't acknowledge legalizing medical cannabis production and distribution nor the constitutionally protected right of the state and citizens to do so. (See "War on Education" to understand why the citizens of California have not revolted.)
Civil liberties are another casualty, as the ninth and tenth amendments clearly reserve the power to judge questions of what substances a free people can ingest to themselves or at worst their state legislatures. The fourth amendment has been completely destroyed by corrupt judges crafting "drug war exceptions" to the unambiguous language of the highest law of the land.
In addition to the tens of thousands killed in action and the wholesale destruction of inner cities there are presently about 1 million POWs in federal and state prisons and a larger number on supervised parole. There have been about 6 million arrests for cannabis possession alone since 1990.
The War on Firearms:
Sometimes deliberately mis-identified as a War on Gun Violence. While the victims of this particular war have essentially won the historical and scholarly legal debate on the meaning of the Second Amendment, the courts move very slowly when it suits them, and there is no effective restraint against judges imposing their personal views on the subject. The Supremes in particular seem unwilling to accept a firearms rights case, so the carnage will continue for some years to come at a minimum. Statistics on casualties and POWs are hard to come by as the government does not distinguish a sentence for armed robbery from one for a "technical gun law violation." Successful victim disarmament organizations like the NRA continue to press for additional federal prison sentences for prisoners of this war. Certainly there are some thousands or tens of thousands of POWs, some score of extra-judicial killings every year, and a fair accounting would include the 3,000+ deaths of September 11, 2001, all of which would have been prevented if only the law was respected and airline passengers were not deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed rights. Add in to that total the millions of murders, rapes, assaults, and other violent personal and property crimes that would have been prevented by well armed potential victims.
The War on Poverty:
This is another war defined in such a way that there can be no victory and no definitive accounting of casualties and prisoners. Casualties include the millions of children who grew up in single-parent families as a result of welfare rules that penalized two-parent cohabitation. This condition has well-established correlation to diminished lifetime earnings and increased risk of incarceration. Prisoners include the millions who have been taught that dependency and helplessness are rewarded at least as well as hard work.
The War on Education:
While rarely acknowledged in public, this war has been prosecuted quite effectively since the advent of substantial federal involvement in state and local educational decisions began some decades ago. Casualties include the majority of today's adult American population who were released into the world with inflated self esteem but a grossly inadequate education and lack of ability for independent thought, with a liberal dose of wildly inaccurate history, civics, and philosophy mixed in. Our economy depends on technology and services but most people are functionally innumerate and a growing minority is functionally illiterate. POWs include the legions of young males who must be drugged into submission plus the millions of inner-city children sentenced to years in institutions that have long ceased even pretending to prepare them for adult life.
The War on Private Property
This one has been progressing steadily for at least 50 years and some trace its roots back to dawn of the 20th century. It goes far beyond the attacks on control of our bodies being prosecuted under the war on drugs, to include the product of our work and the very earth under our feet. (Proposals to tax the rain falling from the skies are being seriously debated in some locales.) The income tax takes away control over the fruits of our labor and ensures that when we work harder to improve our lot in life, the government will grow at least as fast, and generally faster than our puny fortunes.
Zoning laws have made a mockery out of the concept of owning real estate. Officials of the small fiefdom where I reside have informed me on numerous occasions that I should think of myself as a "steward" of the property rather than an owner. With my property taxes rising over twice as fast as my income while a flood of new zoning restrictions systematically destroys the value of my single largest investment, the end is not difficult to predict. I'm told that the oligarchy has decided that my class of property will become "affordable housing." It seems that local snob-zoning laws have been so effective at raising property values beyond the means of "the wrong people" that some sacrificial parcels are required to evade state and federal government anti-discrimination laws. About 10% of the parcels in the fief have been singled out for systematic destruction in value, this being cheaper (to the fief) than the building of suitable slums. Destruction also avoids the loss of fief control associated with new construction; if landowners were allowed to subdivide or even create accessory apartments in the existing stock the problem would be solved but the fief might lose some power.
Anti-discrimination laws, racial preferences and set-asides, and a host of similar measures have destroyed the right of assembly, or the more succinct private property equivalent of being able to exclude anyone for any reason, or no reason at all. Building and health codes empower a legion of substance-eating parasites to invade without warning and without a warrant, backed by armed force, increasingly visible on the hip of the invading bureaucrat's hip.
No listing of the fronts on the war against private property would be complete without a survey of the effects of mis-named environmental laws, which allow all levels of government to destroy the value of arbitrarily large or small bits of property by the simple expedient of declaring that one or more of the species of flora and fauna that MIGHT be found there are more valuable than outdated notions of human rights and civil liberties. The enemy forces have overrun the positions of private landowners to such a degree that the "glancing goose test" is used to bankrupt and/or imprison those whose property underlies migratory waterfowl flight paths, lest the protected birds be deprived of their freedom to land and poop anywhere they please. Buffer zones with radii of hundreds of yards are routinely used to destroy the value of swaths that are unlucky enough to be adjacent to a protected slime mold or vermin. The benefits to the "protected" species are highly questionable, as the rational landowner will quickly discover the "three S" tactic of western ranchers: when a protected species is found anywhere near your land, Shoot, Shovel, and Shut up. If protection of favored species were the real goal, appropriate legislation could have allowed private property owners to profit from the presence of these valuable specimens, but of course profit is nearly as offensive to government as is liberty.
It's hard to gather the number killed in action, but there is a steady trickle of reports of those like Carl Drega who are tormented to the point of "going postal," plus those unfortunates who own land in or near national parks, where armed agents hike hundreds of yards past locked gates and "posted, no trespassing signs," storm the home, shoot the landowner dead, then bankrupt the widow in court. Add in the ones like "Shrub," the golf course owner imprisoned because he dared to ask where he should move the trees and city-government-mandated earthen berms that the owners of the competing golf course (the city government) found objectionable. POWs are legion and include not just those in prison for illegal "taking" of protected non-humans but virtually every owner of real estate in the nation, plus the millions more who are unable to find affordable property after exclusionary zoning laws and arbitrary "code" requirements force the price of property beyond their reach.
Well, I've run out of wars, but surely the readers of TLE can check or update my facts and point out the ones I've missed.
I have nothing but the highest respect for the men and women who serve in our armed forces. My admiration is matched only by the contempt for their elected civilian leaders, who waste the blood and bodies of these heroes to further personal and petty political agendas that have no rightful or lawful place in the government of a free people. If the professionals of the armed forces maintain that they can fight and win two significant wars simultaneously, I'm inclined to believe them. The problem is, I count at least a dozen wars being fought with armed troops numbering in millions and comparable numbers of POWs, KIA, and casualties. My question is: Which two shall we fight?