2006 December 25 Monday
New York Times Wants Bigger Army

You might think by now the editors of the Gray Lady might have figured out that giving a US President a big military is asking for trouble. But no. The editors of the Gray Lady think future Presidents should be able to send larger occupation forces abroad in foreign adventures (really, I'm not making this up).

Military reality finally broke through the Bush administrationís ideological wall last week, with President Bush publicly acknowledging the need to increase the size of the overstretched Army and Marine Corps. Larger ground forces are an absolute necessity for the sort of battles America is likely to fight during the coming decades: extended clashes with ground-based insurgents rather than high-tech shootouts with rival superpowers.

Why should we want to get into extended clashes with ground-based insurgents? By what logic does the United States need to become a neo-colonial power that occupies other countries with hostile populaces for extended periods of time? How is the United States made more secure by this practice?

To put it another way: What list of countries does the New York Times editorial board think make candidates for future American military occupation and to what end? Long term occupations are expensive in dollars and manpower and in deaths and maimings of soldiers. The $170 billion we are wasting this fiscal year in Iraq is not a pattern we should try to emulate in other countries in the future.

Foreign occupations do not uplift and enlighten the occupied peoples. Most countries that do well by occupation tend to be more advanced and organized in the first place (e.g. Germany and Japan). The truly messed up places that get occupied again and again (e.g. Haiti) stay messed up. That's a pattern that will recur until we develop the ability to do genetic engineering on occupied peoples.

The Gray Lady notes that the Pentagon has wanted to invest in more powerful naval and air assets.

When the 21st century began, Pentagon planners expected that American forces could essentially coast unchallenged for a few decades, relying on superior air and sea power, while preparing for possible future military competition with an increasingly powerful China. That meant investing in the Air Force and Navy, not the Army and Marines.

Money wasted in Iraq is money not available for building up the US military to meet real threats that could emerge such as China. We are better off spending on the Air Force and Navy. Oceans and air space separate us from any serious potential future challengers.

If the goal is to protect ourselves from the Muslims the best way to do that is to separate Muslims from Western countries by keeping them out of the West. That would buy us more security than a big Army, and Marines big Navy, or big Air Force. Also, we should work seriously to develop energy technologies to make non-oil energy sources cheaper than oil. Cheaper nuclear, solar, and other non-oil energy technologies would reduce the flow of money to the Middle East, the idleness that oil money makes possible for in Arabs in oil states, and the problems that come from an old saying my grandmother used to say "Idle hands are the devil's workshop".

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 December 25 09:41 PM  Military War, Rumours Of War

Ahrimahn said at December 26, 2006 10:12 AM:

This way more US soldiers can die fighting Israel's enemies.

Lawrence Auster said at December 27, 2006 6:07 PM:

Does Mr. Parker have any theories as to why the New York Times would support a larger army to engage in lengthy overseas occupations? That would seem to go against everything they believe.

However, on further thought, maybe they're thinking along lines like this: "We don't oppose overseas occupations, so long as they are carried out on an international, John Kerry-like, UN basis. In fact, we want international forces and bureaucracies to occupy and manage as much of this messy world as possible. The more national sovereignty is suppressed, the better we like it. And since the U.S. has the biggest armed forces, naturally the U.S. should form the major part of such occupations. America's true vocation is as the muscle of global government."

The above considerations return us to the insight that the neocons on one side and the UN and liberal internationalists on the other both want the same thing: a globalized world. They just want to organize it along different lines.

Lawrence Auster said at December 27, 2006 6:14 PM:

By the way, before I posted my own comment, I didn't notice the out-to-lunch comment by Ahrimahn that preceded my own. As though, among other things, the New York Times (!) is a supporter of wars on Israel's behalf. The Israel-haters never notice that American liberal Jews are not supporters of a strong Israel.

Ahrimahn's comment is an example of what I happily miss at my own website by not having the comments feature activated.

Randall Parker said at December 27, 2006 8:43 PM:


I am puzzled by the NY Times editorial board. In their meeting to discuss their position did any of them argue that, hey, Iraq is a disaster. Maybe we should stay out of the country occupation business?

Are they betting on a Democrat winning the White House in 2008? Then are they planning ahead to have the US occupy Haiti yet again and also occupy Darfur in Sudan? We don't need a bigger military to do those things if we withdraw from Iraq.

Did they bother to do the math on just how big a military we'd need to properly occupy a country like Iraq? Are they seriously willing to pay for it? We'd need at least a half million more soldiers and probably closer to a million. Most can't be deployed at any one time and we'd need a 3 to 5 times more soldiers than we currently have in Iraq.

Then there's feasibility. Bring back the draft? Shrink the size of our available working age labor pool even as the aged living off of government checks swells? Oh, and gut their social programs and transfer payment programs to pay for it? We are faced with a fiscal crisis in the 2010s even without trying to expand the military.

Then there's the question of national interest: Did they bother to ask whether occupying countries with hostile populations serves US interests? If they are going to argue for a bigger Army of occupationn is it too much to ask them to explain which countries we should occupy for what benefits to US national security?

As for Ahrimahn's comment: I think it demonstrates why some come up with conspiracy theories: America's rulers and intellectuals do not make much sense. People try to find explanations that involve rational calculations to achieve goals. Since I have a hard time understanding the motives behind the destructive policies of our elites I'm not surprised to see people advancing explanations that fit with their prejudices.

Randall Parker said at December 27, 2006 8:53 PM:

To look at the NY Times thinking another way:

1) Do they see the Iraq disaster as an unfortunate obstacle in the way of their desires to see the US serve in occupation forces aimed to help spread UN international government power?

2) Or do they really want to see a future non-UN sponsored occupation of some Middle Eastern country succeed (and by what criteria would they measure success?) by use of a much larger army of occupation?

3) Or do they want to see the US military grow in order to make the current occupation of Iraq into a success?

Gotta say, their editorial has made me curious to know what the liberals really think about Iraq. Sure, they'll say Bush is bad and Bush made mistakes. That's easy to do (after all, it is true) and expected by their liberal base. But what do they think of the people of Iraq and what do they think we should make the Iraqi people become?

Bob Badour said at December 28, 2006 6:53 AM:


Iraq has to cause some major cognitive dissonance among the "liberal humanist" crowd. On the one hand, "rino" Bush and his neo-con drinking buddies give them the opportunity to foam at the mouth about how evil all those nasty conservatives are. On the other hand, the people of Iraq contradict their liberal beliefs about all humans wanting the same things they do.

It makes sense to me they would demand withdrawal while calling for a larger army so that next time the US has the power to force liberal democracy down the throats of the "liberated".

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