Yes, Afghanistan went down the drain and Washington’s global war on terror ended (more or less) in disaster 20 years after it began. But the urge to militarize the planet? Not a chance in an American world where, as TomDispatch regular William Hartung lays out in striking detail today, the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex plan to continue ruling the roost in Washington for time eternal.
So, war, what is it good for? Absolutely something! In that sense, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a horror of the first order, has been anything but bad for the Pentagon. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, three decades after the old Cold War ended, with a distinct helping hand from Russian president Vladimir Putin, the Biden administration has been playing its part admirably in ramping up this country’s newest version of the old Cold War into an ever more militarized set of confrontations.
It’s not just the CIA operatives in Ukraine or the sending of U.S. troops to neighboring Poland early in the Ukraine war. Only last week, at a NATO summit, President Biden announced that this country would ramp up its military presence in Europe yet again on land, sea, and in the air. (Keep in mind that, since the war in Ukraine began, Washington had already dispatched an extra 20,000 troops to Europe, raising its forces there above 100,000.) At least 3,000 more combat troops are now heading for Romania, two F-35 squadrons for Great Britain, U.S. naval ships for Spain, and the U.S. 5th Army Corps will establish a sizeable permanent base and headquarters in Poland, while there will be unspecified “enhanced” deployments in the Baltics and American forces will be upped in Germany and Italy, too.
And this isn’t just happening in Europe to face down an outrageous Russian invasion of Ukraine. An increasingly militarized commitment to Asia, especially Taiwan, and a new Cold War with China has been in the cards for a while now. I’m sure you remember our president upping the ante there by responding to a reporter’s question about whether the U.S. would ever get militarily involved in defending Taiwan this way: “Yes, that’s the commitment we made.” True, his aides walked him back on the subject, but from sending American naval vessels through the Taiwan strait and into the South China Sea to ramping up naval war exercises with allies in the Pacific, everything seems to be getting colder and colder in ways that seem hotter and hotter.
The world may look more ominous to some of us, but not, it seems, to the Pentagon. In terms of what matters to our military leaders, things — think: funding — are only (and eternally) on the upswing. Keep all of this in mind as you read Hartung’s latest yearly look at our national (in)security budget and how, in a world with so many other problems, it continues to go through the roof. Tom