Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Rules And Tough Times

"...And somebody shouted 'Fair Warning!' LOLZ! Strike that poor boy...down..."

The paw paw era LA metal anthem may might well (very) make an aperitif of a soundtrack for Pentagon Map and Gap Shrinker TPM Barnett's excellent hello 'bout how Great Satan is getting more scary and meaner as the Long Small Wars drag on and on and on
As if to culminate a quarter-century trend of U.S. military interventions that have all somehow devolved into manhunts of some sort, America now simply skips the intervention and gets straight to hunting down and killing bad guys. We stand our ground, as it were, on a global scale. Give us the wrong gesture, look, attitude or perceived intention, and wham! One of ours might kill one of yours -- in a heartbeat. You just never know.
If that sounds like the resurrection of the “Dirty Harry” mindset, it has a lot to do with our still-tough economic times. As a nation and society, we have a long and persistent history of adopting a decidedly illiberal attitude when income growth lags. Jostled by hard times, we feel little remorse about dispatching those who transgress, trespass, threaten or terrorize us. 
 Part of what made Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of a righteously renegade police officer -- in über-liberal San Francisco of all places -- so powerfully attractive was the equally unsettling atmosphere of the 1970s. We appreciated Detective Harry Callahan’s willingness to play judge, jury and executioner, thus saving society the costs, agonies and possible missteps of its inefficient legal system. With Harry, rules would most certainly be broken, but bad guys would most certainly go away.
In truth, the vast bulk of America’s now decade-long globalized war on terrorists unfolds in the weeds, where our tough men and our killing machines track down their bad men across globalization’s many still-untamed frontiers. Yes, we’ve upgraded the technology, but this is still Gen. Crook hunting down Geronimo in 1880s America’s southwest territories. 
Americans have little sense for globalization’s many frontiers. By and large, our companies are absent from those rough neighborhoods, even as our “global cops” regularly roar in to do their nasty business, drones a-blazing. We cast Chinese and other nationals willing to do real business there as “free riders,” by which we mean that they profit after we’ve taken care of the dirty work. 
Having abandoned the logic of nation-building because we could never sufficiently rein in our inveterate bossiness to permit success, we now specialize in the hardest of hard powers: the extrajudicial killing of those who would do us harm. No, we will not wage pre-emptive war, but we will assassinate pre-emptively, finding great moral solitude in that now-symmetricized conflict.
Kinda like Magnum Force"s Inspector Callahan - Great Satan"s preference l"guerre au courant is to terminate with extreme prejudice.
“Secret wars” fueled by “expanding presidential authority,” as a recent Foreign Policy cover story described it, marks America as the ultimate free rider. We swoop into globalization’s ghettos, and after we air out the equivalent of the crack dealer, we get the hell out of Dodge. 
This is Colin Powell’s “Pottery Barn rule” at its most reductionist: As soon as there is nobody left for us to kill, we’re gone. We don’t replace broken windows, conduct trials or engage in “social work.” We don’t pick up the pieces, because we no longer acknowledge breaking the pottery. 
After waging war across Southwest Asia for a solid decade, we now strategically “pivot” to an East Asia essentially bereft of organized war to fuel a regional arms race in the name of containing a dangerously “opaque” China.

One thing you can say about American power nowadays is that it is completely transparent. And while, for now, America is flexing its muscle in the Pacific today in a polite way, its behavior elsewhere makes it clear that Washington is not averse to delivering the fatal blow.
We have become an “open carry” superpower, proudly brandishing our weapons and enjoying the subtle fear it factors into every confrontation, every negotiation and every conversation. 

Pic - “Great Satan ain"t going anywhere. America stands her ground. B!tches”  


PacRim Jim said...

American machines don't sleep, they don't get fat, they don't retire, but they do get upgraded, day after day, strike after deadlier strike.
Soon, it will be adversaries versus vigilant artificial intelligence-driven networks of weapons.
Nowhere to run.
Nowhere to hide.