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  • Is America Weaker than a Year Ago?...

    OK, this question has been in my mind since a couple of weeks...

    Now that the Iraq war has been over for a couple of months, could America in fact be weaker than it was a year ago? I am talking here not only militarily, but also diplomatically and economically? Globally, is America weaker now than it was before the Iraq invasion?

    I have the strong impression that America is indeed weaker:

    A) Diplomatically: the Bush strategy of blindly and forcefully mixing up two different issues (international terrorism and WMDs of some "rogue" nation-states) has been very successful in offending much of the rest of the planet and wasting much of the post 9/11 global sympathy and good will towards the US. It is clear to me that the US has less political credit in the bank to use for future foreign policy initiatives. A whole damn lot has been expended with the unilateral intervention in Iraq, and the futile search for the invisible WMDs have dramatically reduced the credibility of the current Administration. Skepticism abounds everytime President Bush speaks now about the "war on terror" (which is unfortunate because international terrorism is indeed a danger).

    B) Economically: the cost of not only the Iraq war but of the important increases in military spending to "make sure America remains unchallenged" will be a drag on the American economy for years. This could kill any possible economic surge and encourage economic stagnation and everything that ensues: job losses and lower quality of life for millions of Americans. Even worse, the slowing down of the American economy overburdened with military expenses could also drag down the global economy.

    C) Militarily: the American military victory in Iraq was a great success, swift as lightning and with microscopic casualties. But this could be only a short-lived success. It seems the US has quite a few chances of losing Iraq anyhow by not being able to successfully transition this country to order, democracy and development. In which case the military victory will be looked upon as a completely useless and empty victory. Moreover, the strain this occupation imposes on the American military is stretching its resources thin and greatly weakening its vaunted "global power projection" capabilities.

    So there you have it. What do you guys think now?
    23
    I agree
    30.43%
    7
    I somewhat agree
    34.78%
    8
    I somewhat disagree
    8.70%
    2
    I disagree
    26.09%
    6
    Last edited by Tzar; 08 Oct 03, 21:04.

  • #2
    I am convinced our presence in Iraq is not entirely our own object. I think we are being the foil for unexamined geopolitical interests in the area. Especially regarding the Kurds and the Shi'i.
    Get the US out of NATO, now!

    Comment


    • #3
      Tzar analysis is perfect, no words to add.

      US is really weaker that one year ago, I hope that if there are clever citizens in us , ( seeing California poll I have a doubt !!), so I hope GWD will be wiped out, and put the best Cigar representative ever on 1st rank, I told Monica yeah!!!

      More seriously, I don't think US citizens have mesured the decline of sympathy due to IRAK interventions and the lack of evidence for MDW.
      Add the death of Peace process in Israel !!!!!!

      Boys you are in non-driver train at 100 mph, and you don't know it. Next stop could be painfull

      Der WanderChatanoughaTchooTchoo
      Last edited by jlbetin; 09 Oct 03, 09:10.
      The Best weapon ever:a good Joke. The Best shield ever: Humour
      JLBETIN© Aka Der Wanderer TOAW Section Leader is a █ WHQ/SZO/XG/Gamesquad® product since 01/2003
      The Birth of European Army Tournament round Three is opened

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Tzar
        A) Diplomatically:
        Check. In full agreement.

        B) Economically:
        Iraq may slow down an economic recovery, but boom and bust economies are rooted in something far deeper than George W. Bush's foreign or domestic policies .

        C) Militarily:
        I think the US has become stronger militarily, if only with the massive increase in spending. Losing a soldier here and there and the occasional Humvee isn't going to do any serious damage to the American military.

        Losing the "peace" in Iraq is not something I'd count as a military weakness, but rather a political one.
        "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

        – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MikeJ
          ).



          I think the US has become stronger militarily, if only with the massive increase in spending. Losing a soldier here and there and the occasional Humvee isn't going to do any serious damage to the American military.

          Losing the "peace" in Iraq is not something I'd count as a military weakness, but rather a political one.
          Military strength is calculated not only by counting the bullets and beans but by calculating in several intangible factors; such as morale, skill retention, .....

          Iraq is causing a huge morale drop in the US military; similar in many ways to the affliction that affected the US military post-Vietnam.
          It's a near constant refrain now to hear the troops in Iraq saying they are getting out once they get back home. The loss of soldiers skilled in their chosen profession can't be discounted. It takes a lot of years and a lot of money to properly train somebody to handle military equipment in a safe and efficient manner.

          Although this morale drop is only in it's beginning stages; the longer the mis-adventure in Iraq lasts, the more telling the signs of disintegration will become.
          Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

          Comment


          • #6
            For "demoralized" soldiers, Americans in Vietnam certainly fought well.

            I'm not too worried.
            "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

            – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MikeJ
              For "demoralized" soldiers, Americans in Vietnam certainly fought well.

              I'm not too worried.
              Notice I said "post-vietnam".
              A great deal of the struggles the US military went through occurred after Vietnam; when the military itself questioned it's role and it's methods. The soldier's knew they had won the battles only to lose the war.

              As this Iraq fiasco continues, the public support for the operation will likely fall and the military will be left wondering where it went wrong; although, once again it will have been the political mismanagement of the campaign that will be responsible.
              Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't really see how that's going to affect the combat proficiency or strength of the men in the army, though.

                Did the spectre of Vietnam lower the fighting capability of the US military post-Vietnam?
                "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

                – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Diplomatically: This is not so simple to judge. Foriegn policy is influenced, but not always dominated by public opinion. The US has certainly lost alot of support from the general public. Yet, most of our allies who opposed the war have taken steps to make ammends with the US. However, Bush is very reluctant to embrace the international community.

                  Though unpopular, the United States remains the "global police force." Few countries or alliances could afford to fill America's shoes. Even fewer nations desire to adopt the necessary aggressive foriegn policies required to maintain peace and stability.

                  The end of the Cold War created a more favor environment for economic and political expansion for many nations. South Korea and Western Europe managed to obtain have seen increases in their economic strength. Resentment toward America, in part, is due to its reluctance to recognize the new powers of smaller nations. More importantly, the US appears to be limiting opportunities for expansion to maintain some degree of depend-ence. This is imperalism.

                  To put it better, it is not so much America is weaker. The real issue is that many nations are stronger.

                  Economically: Iraq will put a strain on America's economy, but to what degree is uncertain. I don't expect it to be long term.

                  Militarily: If anything, Iraq displayed America's military strength. The Iraqi Army was not a formidable foe. However, the US did overcome a number of challenges that most countries on earth would fail at. The beginning of the "Shock and Awe" phase was a prime example of that might. I joined others who watched the images during that seven minute pounding. We were taking notes of how impacts occurred, etc. I was amazed at the level of precision achieved. The US not only destroyed the desired targets, but did so with the kind of precision I never expected.

                  A long campaign in Iraq could effect morale. After Vietnam, something like 4 out of 11 divisions were combat capable. However, this is a volunteer Army, and it is not under the pressure of an insensitive American people. Anger is being directed at Bush, not our soldiers. (At least here in the US.)

                  America needs to accept the new geopolitical climate that was established after the Cold War. We are no longer the superpower. People are more prepared to suffer rather than endure 50 more years of dependence on a foriegn entity. Should we choose to ignore the world around us, the US will increasingly be seen as imperalistic, and the nine-lives we are relying on will run out.
                  "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MikeJ
                    I don't really see how that's going to affect the combat proficiency or strength of the men in the army, though.

                    Did the spectre of Vietnam lower the fighting capability of the US military post-Vietnam?
                    Yes.

                    The US military missed a complete regeneration cycle because of the costs of the war in Vietnam. Much of the equipment(M-60, F-4, F-8, comms, ....) was already obsolescent by the mid 70s. Although new equipment(F-14, F-15, M-1, ....) was beginning to come online by then, it would still require several years before training produced the proper proficiency levels required by the end users.

                    In the mid 70s, morale among the US military was at a near all time low. AWOLs were up, desertions were up, the number of troops incarcerated were up, drug use among troops was up. All signs of a critical decay in morale.

                    I've read some accounts by commanders in the period in question. They almost all universally state that the post-vietnam era was the all time low for readiness for the US military (Army in particular).
                    In the seventies, proficiency and readiness ratings for various units were routinely marked up so as to protect the careers of the officers involved. Back then if you failed at an exercise, it went up as a black mark on your record. There was no NTC back then, where critisizing and indeed self-critiques are now the norm; and the exercise is now considered a learning tool as opposed to a test of skill.
                    Last edited by tigersqn; 09 Oct 03, 16:29.
                    Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Deltapooh
                      Diplomatically: This is not so simple to judge. Foriegn policy is influenced, but not always dominated by public opinion. The US has certainly lost alot of support from the general public. Yet, most of our allies who opposed the war have taken steps to make ammends with the US. However, Bush is very reluctant to embrace the international community.
                      The US certainly remains a powerful diplomatic force, but the current Administration has made the big mistake of talking to the rest of the world exclusively in American terms, framing issues and problems in a way that only promotes the national interests of America (or what the Administration perceives as national interests, which is even arguable).

                      The post 9/11 era at first seemed to be the golden occasion for America to redefine its role in the after Cold War world. At the turn of the 50s, the US was able to inspire and draw to its sides a lot of countries as leader of the Free World. It seems America was on the verge of repeating something similar after 9/11 and show a true global leadership but the isolationist mentality of the Bush team (for which America is able to do everything alone and unilaterally) missed the target.

                      The major mistake the Bush administration made was to confuse 2 different issues: international terrorism and WMD of nation-states. International terrorism is not linked to any state, any region, any ethnical group. It happens everywhere. It is a global threat that requires an international response, not a national one. At first, Bush seemed to understand that. But when he tried to mix up in the same agenda the WMD issue, this is where the rest of the planet got off the train.

                      The WMD issue of Iraq, North Korea or Iran is NOT one of terrorism. It is one of nationalistic and paranoid nation-states who are looking for the ultimate weapon. This issue has different roots and need to be adressed in a different way. North Korea for example has nothing to do with terrorism at all and do not practice terrorism. But Bush simple-mindedly put both issues in the same bag.
                      America needs to accept the new geopolitical climate that was established after the Cold War. We are no longer the superpower. People are more prepared to suffer rather than endure 50 more years of dependence on a foriegn entity. Should we choose to ignore the world around us, the US will increasingly be seen as imperalistic, and the nine-lives we are relying on will run out.
                      The current foreign policy of the US is in fact isolationist, and this is where is the paradox. In spite of the flurry of military activity of the US around the globe in the last 2 years, America under Bush is more isolationist than ever. It conveniently ignores important international institutions. It refuses to listen to Allies in a number of issues. It rejects worlwide treaties aimed at building a first collective effort in reducing environmental and social problems (Kyoto or the anti-personal mines treaty for example).

                      So the US is in fact isolationist these days, but this is the 21st century, not the 19th. Ironically, 9/11 should have shown that national borders mean less and less in today's world. The Bush administration drew the opposite conclusion and the result of such thinking can in the long run accelerate the weakkening of America by positioning her alone in a corner instead of working with others to solve global problems.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Tzar,

                        For me, I want Bush to promote American interests, not Canadian or French interests. In fact, if an average American feels the president, whosoever that may be, is promoting the global interests over that of America, he will be effectively voted out of office, period.

                        You want America to follow the important international institutions, but the problem is that these very same institutions are hell-bent on limiting American hegemony and many countries regularly flaunt international rules if it is in their national interests. Are you saying America cannot and mustn't flaunt any international rule at all, in the other words, must America be a good little dog to the United Nations? I think not.

                        I don't think Bush is confusing the international terrorism with WMD issues. The terrorism only happen where the states do either directly or indirectly provide training grounds and facilities for various terrorist groups. The state-sponsored terrorism is very much alive, and it demands a harsh response, otherwise, it may become a de facto institution with no hope of ending it permanmently. Moreover, the terrorism does not mean just terrorist leaders with religious fanatics who are willing to die in the name of their religion, but states using terror as a political weapon. It can be argued that North Korea and Iraq were practicing a kind of terrorism: intentional blackmail and exhortation through use of various means such as obtaining WMDs and building their armies.

                        North Korea has effectively ignored the United States' warning and continues to terrorize South Korea by building nuclear bombs that one day may reach the shores of Japan or even Alaska. You cannot argue the WMDs can't be used as a kind of terrorist weapon, when in fact, they can be used by the terrorists. The terrorists are already trying to search for ways to obtain inexpensive WMDs, therefore, Bush is correct in linking WMD and terrorism as a single issue.

                        It seems that a lot of people think the nationalism is a sort of dirty word, and that all of us should embrace globalization or multilateralism as it is everybody's favorite word nowadays. I was born an American, and I'll do everything in my power to keep national borders intact, and I think that's what defines us as the great nation. I reject any argument that we are a part of larger global community. Maybe the world can afford to think that way, but I certainly don't want America to be estangled with the rest of world's committments when in fact the world can't keep all of them.

                        The world is already ignoring America's interests, it is only interested in using our armed forces as a part of UN's peacekeeping forces and to invest our taxpayer's money onto wasteful nations that have no prospect of developing economically in near future. So why should America be assisting the world's interests?

                        The world wants America to do this or that, but when America wants to do something, the world immediately cry foul at us! No offense, but the world is more of a paradox than America.

                        Dan
                        Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                        "Aim small, miss small."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tigersqn
                          The US military missed a complete regeneration cycle because of the costs of the war in Vietnam. Much of the equipment(M-60, F-4, F-8, comms, ....) was already obsolescent by the mid 70s. Although new equipment(F-14, F-15, M-1, ....) was beginning to come online by then, it would still require several years before training produced the proper proficiency levels required by the end users.
                          Okay, but is this really comparable with Iraq? That sounds more econmic than military related, but it's a fair enough critique, except that I don't really see this happening with Iraq. The US was losing something like a battalion a week in dead or wounded and that must have been a huge economic strain. By comparison the US are losing maybe a squad a week and investment in R&D for weapons is, IIRC, at an all time high as a % of the US defence budget (and the budget is growing all the same).

                          In the mid 70s, morale among the US military was at a near all time low. AWOLs were up, desertions were up, the number of troops incarcerated were up, drug use among troops was up. All signs of a critical decay in morale.
                          I wonder how it would compare to WW1 or WW2? There's also the issue of draftees vs volunteers. I don't know, I just don't really see anything surprising about people not wanting to get killed in a war. I think you're going to see this in every war that is fought. I suppose the US could just not fight wars, but then there wouldn't really be a point to having a glorious army to "let it rot" in the words of a rather famous historical figure .

                          I've read some accounts by commanders in the period in question. They almost all universally state that the post-vietnam era was the all time low for readiness for the US military (Army in particular).
                          In the seventies, proficiency and readiness ratings for various units were routinely marked up so as to protect the careers of the officers involved. Back then if you failed at an exercise, it went up as a black mark on your record. There was no NTC back then, where critisizing and indeed self-critiques are now the norm; and the exercise is now considered a learning tool as opposed to a test of skill.
                          So the question is what do we attribute this to and how can we compare it with Iraq, if at all?
                          "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

                          – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tzar
                            The US certainly remains a powerful diplomatic force, but the current Administration has made the big mistake of talking to the rest of the world exclusively in American terms, framing issues and problems in a way that only promotes the national interests of America (or what the Administration perceives as national interests, which is even arguable).
                            I agree President Bush needs to de-Americanize those policies, which impact the interest of our allies, and the world in general.

                            Originally posted by Tzar
                            The post 9/11 era at first seemed to be the golden occasion for America to redefine its role in the after Cold War world. At the turn of the 50s, the US was able to inspire and draw to its sides a lot of countries as leader of the Free World. It seems America was on the verge of repeating something similar after 9/11 and show a true global leadership but the isolationist mentality of the Bush team (for which America is able to do everything alone and unilaterally) missed the target.
                            I am less certain about this. I don't recall widespread global sympathy after 9/11. Most countries reacted with professionalistic insensitivity. Most were concerned with exactly how America would respond to the attacks. Few wanted to commit themselves to any Bush policy without understanding the details.

                            After WWII, many countries were in ruins. The United States, as well as the Soviet Union exploited the situation to their advantages. Economic aid was provided to countries who supported America's ideal of the world. People, who were more concerned with rebuilding their towns, rather than ruling the world, were happy to accept the diminished role, which accompanied the support.

                            Today, things are much different. Political and economic security has produced the confidence that usually accompanies independence. International leaders are less willing to employ the "Churchill doctrine" of negotiating with the superpower. Instead, they are prepared to dictate conditions in an effort to maintain their own security and expansion.

                            The Bush Administration's mistake is to continuously ignore the new political climate. We need to negotiate where we once dictated. Of course, negotiating our security with less powerful, poorer, cautious allies is easier said than done. While its less favorable to admit to today, the world has the US to fall back on if things go to hell. America is virtually on its own, no matter how many people support us.

                            Originally posted by Tzar
                            The major mistake the Bush administration made was to confuse 2 different issues: international terrorism and WMD of nation-states. International terrorism is not linked to any state, any region, any ethnical group. It happens everywhere. It is a global threat that requires an international response, not a national one. At first, Bush seemed to understand that. But when he tried to mix up in the same agenda the WMD issue, this is where the rest of the planet got off the train.
                            I can't agree with you more. The Bush Administration created a confusing policy by uniting the issues of global terrorism and WMDs possessed by nation-states. He was quick to generalize Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as "Axis of Evil". However, he clearly has no intent to address them each in the same manner. Bush should have approached the international community, and the American people, will a more direct, well-understood foriegn policy.

                            In a way, the "loose lips sinks ships" policy of the White House is creating an air of confusion. Everyday, we Americans, along with the world, are treated to a White House that appears to be in total disarray. The United States should not expect foriegn leaders to commit themselves blindly to foriegn policy even if we might. Bush could achieve so more by adopting an open, clear policy on the issues raised. Instead, he, and the Administration in general, continue to enforce broad, confusing positions, which leave much room for speculation.

                            Originally posted by Tzar
                            The current foreign policy of the US is in fact isolationist, and this is where is the paradox. In spite of the flurry of military activity of the US around the globe in the last 2 years, America under Bush is more isolationist than ever. It conveniently ignores important international institutions. It refuses to listen to Allies in a number of issues. It rejects worlwide treaties aimed at building a first collective effort in reducing environmental and social problems (Kyoto or the anti-personal mines treaty for example).
                            I agree the US is focused more on isolation than internationalism. It's not uncommon. What makes this cycle different from others is the apparent willingness of the Executive Branch to employ imperalism to achieve greater unilateralism.

                            It is important to note the Bush Administration more or less carried out the will of the American people on the Kyoto and ICC treaties. Clinton committed America to both without first seeking and achieving approval from Congress. He excercised Presidential Prerogative to demonstrate internationalism. It was a bad ideal.

                            Again, I believe America is still just as strong as it was last year, or even two years ago. Our superpower status died in the 1990's. However, we seem unwilling, or unable to accept the new-found powers of allies. We're not entirely to blame. The international community appears unable to commit to their own definition of their power, and still demand more out of America than it is willing to give. Yet, this does not excuse the amateurish foriegn policies of a President who has difficulty accepting the reality of the New World Order, and our position in it.
                            "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MikeJ
                              Okay, but is this really comparable with Iraq? That sounds more econmic than military related, but it's a fair enough critique, except that I don't really see this happening with Iraq. The US was losing something like a battalion a week in dead or wounded and that must have been a huge economic strain. By comparison the US are losing maybe a squad a week and investment in R&D for weapons is, IIRC, at an all time high as a % of the US defence budget (and the budget is growing all the same).

                              I agree.
                              The equipment situation now can't be compared to the post-vietnam era.
                              The US still dominates in weapons technology.



                              I wonder how it would compare to WW1 or WW2? There's also the issue of draftees vs volunteers. I don't know, I just don't really see anything surprising about people not wanting to get killed in a war. I think you're going to see this in every war that is fought. I suppose the US could just not fight wars, but then there wouldn't really be a point to having a glorious army to "let it rot" in the words of a rather famous historical figure .

                              One of the big problems with a volunteer force is that these soldiers have been doing what they do best for many years. Their proficiency levels for most, are at their peak.
                              The problems come when these very men(and women) decide to pull the plug and get out of the military. When an inordinately large number decide to leave(as it appears post-Iraq), they take with them all the associated skills which they possess; meaning an increase or acceleration in the training cycles for the new recruits, along with the many years waiting required to reach the appropriate level of proficiency. The morale problems that appear to be gaining strength in Iraq MAY present a future problem for the US military.

                              All in all though, I think the US military is much more stable with the volunteer force than a drafted one. The motivation factor is that much higher.



                              So the question is what do we attribute this to and how can we compare it with Iraq, if at all?

                              US military training is second to none. As long as they maintain the programs in place, they should be OK.
                              Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                              Comment

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