‘The Greatest Fighting Force in Human History’

Call it the new American isolationism, writes William J. Astore. Only this time the country — while pumped up with pride in its “exceptional” military — is isolated from the harrowing and horrific costs of war itself.

The U.S. Navy Band performs at a U.S. Navy ceremony welcoming Raytheon’s Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile into the Navy’s arsenal at a fleet introduction ceremony at the Pentagon, Sept. 29, 2004. (U.S. Navy, Daniel J. McLain)

Fighting Invisible Perpetual Wars 

By William J. Astore

In his message to the troops prior to the July 4th weekend, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin offered high praise indeed. “We have the greatest fighting force in human history,” he tweeted, connecting that claim to the U.S. having patriots of all colors, creeds and backgrounds “who bravely volunteer to defend our country and our values.”

As a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel from a working-class background who volunteered to serve more than four decades ago, who am I to argue with Austin? Shouldn’t I just bask in the glow of his praise for today’s troops, reflecting on my own honorable service near the end of what now must be thought of as the First Cold War?

Yet I confess to having doubts. I’ve heard it all before. The hype. The hyperbole. I still remember how, soon after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush boasted that this country had “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known.” I also remember how, in a pep talk given to U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2010, President Barack Obama declared them “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known.”

And yet, 15 years ago at TomDispatch, I was already wondering when Americans had first become so proud of, and insistent upon, declaring our military the world’s absolute best, a force beyond compare, and what that meant for a republic that once had viewed large standing armies and constant warfare as anathemas to freedom.

In retrospect, the answer is all too straightforward: we need something to boast about, don’t we? In the once-upon-a-time “exceptional nation,” what else is there to praise to the skies or consider our pride and joy these days except our heroes?

After all, this country can no longer boast of having anything like the world’s best educational outcomes, or healthcare system, or the most advanced and safest infrastructure, or the best democratic politics, so we better damn well be able to boast about having “the greatest fighting force” ever.

Portion of I-35W Mississippi River bridge, after the Aug. 1, 2007, collapse. (Kevin Rofidal, U.S. Coast Guard, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Leaving that boast aside, Americans could certainly brag about one thing their country has beyond compare: the most expensive military around and possibly ever. No country even comes close to the U.S. commitment of funds to wars, weapons (including nuclear ones at the Department of Energy), and global dominance. Indeed, the Pentagon’s budget for “defense” in 2023 exceeds that of the next 10 countries (mostly allies!) combined.

And from all of this, it seems to me, two questions arise: Are Americans truly getting what they pay so dearly for — the bestest, finest, most exceptional military ever? And even if we are, should a self-proclaimed democracy really want such a thing?

The answer to both those questions is, of course, no. After all, America hasn’t won a war in a convincing fashion since 1945. If this country keeps losing wars routinely and often enough catastrophically, as it has in places like Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, how can we honestly say that we possess the world’s greatest fighting force? And if we nevertheless persist in such a boast, doesn’t that echo the rhetoric of militaristic empires of the past? (Remember when we used to think that only unhinged dictators like Adolf Hitler boasted of having peerless warriors in a megalomaniacal pursuit of global domination?)

Actually, I do believe the United States has the most exceptional military, just not in the way its boosters and cheerleaders like Austin, Bush, and Obama claimed. How is the U.S. military truly “exceptional”? Let me count the ways.

The Pentagon as a Budgetary Black Hole

The Pentagon. (Joe Lauria)

In so many ways, the U.S. military is indeed exceptional. Let’s begin with its budget. At this very moment, Congress is debating a colossal “defense” budget of $886 billion for FY2024 (and all the debate is about issues that have little to do with the military).

That defense spending bill, you may recall, was “only” $740 billion when President Joe Biden took office three years ago. In 2021, Biden withdrew U.S. forces from the disastrous war in Afghanistan, theoretically saving the taxpayer nearly $50 billion a year. Yet, in place of any sort of peace dividend, American taxpayers simply got an even higher bill as the Pentagon budget continued to soar.

Recall that, in his four years in office, Donald Trump increased military spending by 20 percent. Biden is now poised to achieve a similar 20percent increase in just three years in office. And that increase largely doesn’t even include the cost of supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia — so far, somewhere between $120 billion and $200 billion and still rising.

Colossal budgets for weapons and war enjoy broad bipartisan support in Washington. It’s almost as if there were a military-industrial-congressional complex at work here! Where, in fact, did I ever hear a president warning us about that? Oh, perhaps I’m thinking of a certain farewell address by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1961.

In all seriousness, there’s now a huge pentagonal-shaped black hole on the Potomac that’s devouring more than half of the federal discretionary budget annually. Even when Congress and the Pentagon allegedly try to enforce fiscal discipline, if not austerity elsewhere, the crushing gravitational pull of that hole just continues to suck in more money. Bet on that continuing as the Pentagon issues ever more warnings about a new cold war with China and Russia.

From left: Under Secretary of Defense-Comptroller Michael J. McCord, Austin and Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a Senate Armed Services Committee budget hearing on March 28. (DoD/Chad J. McNeeley)

Given its money-sucking nature, perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that the Pentagon is remarkably exceptional when it comes to failing fiscal audits — five of them in a row (the fifth failure being a “teachable moment,” according to its chief financial officer) — as its budget only continued to soar. Whether you’re talking about lost wars or failed audits, the Pentagon is eternally rewarded for its failures. Try running a “Mom and Pop” store on that basis and see how long you last.

Speaking of all those failed wars, perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that they haven’t come cheaply. According to the Costs of War Project at Brown University, roughly 937,000 people have died since 9/11/2001 thanks to direct violence in this country’s “Global War on Terror” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. And the deaths of another 3.6 to 3.7 million people may be indirectly attributable to those same post-9/11 conflicts. The financial cost to the American taxpayer has been roughly $8 trillion and rising even as the U.S. military continues its counterterror preparations and activities in 85 countries.

No other nation in the world sees its military as (to borrow from a short-lived Navy slogan) “a global force for good.” No other nation divides the whole world into military commands like AFRICOM for Africa and CENTCOM for the Middle East and parts of Central and South Asia, headed up by four-star generals and admirals. No other nation has a network of 750 foreign bases scattered across the globe. No other nation strives for full-spectrum dominance through “all-domain operations,” meaning not only the control of traditional “domains” of combat — the land, sea, and air — but also of space and cyberspace. While other countries are focused mainly on national defense (or regional aggressions of one sort or another), the U.S. military strives for total global and spatial dominance. Truly exceptional!

Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, in 2015; designed to provide command and control of air power throughout Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and 17 other nations. (U.S. Air Force, Joshua Strang, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Strangely, in this never-ending, unbounded pursuit of dominance, results simply don’t matter. The Afghan War? Bungled, botched, and lost. The Iraq War? Built on lies and lost. Libya? We came, we saw, Libya’s leader (and so many innocents) died. Yet no one at the Pentagon was punished for any of those failures. In fact, to this day, it remains an accountability-free zone, exempt from meaningful oversight. If you’re a “modern major general,” why not pursue wars when you know you’ll never be punished for losing them?

Indeed, the few “exceptions” within the military-industrial-congressional complex who stood up for accountability, people of principle like Daniel Hale, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden, were imprisoned or exiled.

In fact, the U.S. government has even conspired to imprison a foreign publisher and transparency activist, Julian Assange, who published the truth about the American war on terror, by using a World War I-era espionage clause that only applies to American citizens.

April 5, 2010: Julian Assange addressing National Press Club about WikiLeaks Collateral Damage video from Baghdad showing U.S. air attacks that killed civilians on July 12, 2007. (Jennifer 8. Lee, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

And the record is even grimmer than that. In our post-9/11 years at war, as President Barack Obama admitted, “We tortured some folks” — and the only person punished for that was another whistleblower, John Kiriakou, who did his best to bring those war crimes to our attention.

And speaking of war crimes, isn’t it “exceptional” that the U.S. military plans to spend upwards of $2 trillion in the coming decades on a new generation of genocidal nuclear weapons?

Those include new stealth bombers and new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for the Air Force, as well as new nuclear-missile-firing submarines for the Navy. Worse yet, the U.S. continues to reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first, presumably in the name of protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And of course, despite the countries — nine! — that now possess nukes, the U.S. remains the only one to have used them in wartime, in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Finally, it turns out that the military is even immune from Supreme Court decisions! When SCOTUS recently overturned affirmative action for college admission, it carved out an exception for the military academies. Schools like West Point and Annapolis can still consider the race of their applicants, presumably to promote unit cohesion through proportional representation of minorities within the officer ranks, but our society at large apparently does not require racial equity for its cohesion.

Making Its Wars & Their Ugliness Disappear

Obama greets U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (White House, Pete Souza)

Here’s one of my favorite lines from the movie “The Usual Suspects”: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”

The greatest trick the U.S. military ever pulled was essentially convincing us that its wars never existed. As Norman Solomon notes in his revealing book, War Made Invisible, the military-industrial-congressional complex has excelled at camouflaging the atrocious realities of war, rendering them almost entirely invisible to the American people. Call it the new American isolationism, only this time the country is isolated from the harrowing and horrific costs of war itself.

The U.S. is a nation perpetually at war, yet most Americans live their lives with little or no perception of this. There is no longer a military draft. There are no war bond drives. You aren’t asked to make direct and personal sacrifices. You aren’t even asked to pay attention, let alone pay (except for those nearly trillion-dollar-a-year budgets and interest payments on a ballooning national debt, of course).

[Related: PATRICK LAWRENCE: The Dialectic of the Draft]

You certainly aren’t asked for your permission for this country to fight its wars, as the Constitution demands. As President George W. Bush suggested after the 9/11 attacks, go visit Disneyworld! Enjoy life! Let America’s “best and brightest” handle the brutality, the degradation, and the ugliness of war, bright minds like former Vice President Dick (“So?”) Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald (“I don’t do quagmires”) Rumsfeld.

Did you hear something about the U.S. military being in Syria? In Somalia? Did you hear about the U.S. military supporting the Saudis in a brutal war of repression in Yemen? Did you notice how the country’s military interventions around the world kill, wound and displace so many people of color, so much so that observers speak of the systemic racism of America’s wars? Is it truly progress that a more diverse military in terms of “color, creed, and background,” to use Secretary of Defense Austin’s words, has killed and is killing so many non-white peoples around the globe?

Convoy of U.S. soldiers during the U.S.-led intervention in Syrian, December 2018. (U.S. Army, Arjenis Nunez)

Praising the all-female-crewed flyover at the last Super Bowl or painting rainbow flags of inclusivity (or even blue and yellow flags for Ukraine) on cluster munitions won’t soften the blows or quiet the screams. As one reader of my blog Bracing Viewsso aptly put it: “The diversity the war parties [Democrats and Republicans] will not tolerate is diversity of thought.”

Of course, the U.S. military isn’t solely to blame here. Senior officers will claim their duty is not to make policy at all but to salute smartly as the president and Congress order them about.

The reality, however, is different. The military is, in fact, at the core of America’s shadow government with enormous influence over policymaking. It’s not merely an instrument of power; it is power — and exceptionally powerful at that. And that form of power simply isn’t conducive to liberty and freedom, whether inside America’s borders or beyond them.

Wait! What am I saying? Stop thinking about all that! America is, after all, the exceptional nation and its military, a band of freedom fighters. In Iraq, where war and sanctions killed untold numbers of Iraqi children in the 1990s, the sacrifice was “worth it,” as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once reassured Americans on 60 Minutes.

Even when government actions kill children, lots of children, it’s for the greater good. If this troubles you, go to Disney and take your kids with you. You don’t like Disney? Then, hark back to that old marching song of World War I and “pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag, and smile, smile, smile.” Remember, America’s troops are freedom-delivering heroes and your job is to smile and support them without question.

Have I made my point? I hope so. And yes, the U.S. military is indeed exceptional and being so, being No. 1 (or claiming you are anyway) means never having to say you’re sorry, no matter how many innocents you kill or maim, how many lives you disrupt and destroy, how many lies you tell.

I must admit, though, that, despite the endless celebration of our military’s exceptionalism and “greatness,” a fragment of scripture from my Catholic upbringing haunts me still: Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and professor of history, is a TomDispatch regular and a senior fellow at the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN), an organization of critical veteran military and national security professionals. His personal blog is “Bracing Views.”

This article is from TomDispatch.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

39 comments for “‘The Greatest Fighting Force in Human History’

  1. Rudy Haugeneder
    August 14, 2023 at 13:11

    Meanwhile, there are no homeless on the streets of American cities, and rural communities are not crumpling across the USA. Everything is absolutely fine. Food is cheap and abundant as is housing. Things are better than ever before in history and keep improving.

  2. RomfordRob
    August 13, 2023 at 17:38

    In this connection, every American adolescent should be required to view Harold Pinter’s 2005 Nobel Literature Prize, in which he makes many of these points from an European point of view.

  3. Coleen Rowley
    August 12, 2023 at 21:42

    Yup! In addition to making US-NATO war perpetual by ending the draft, putting war costs on the national debt card (so as to not raise taxes to pay for the war costs), the Powers-That-Shouldn’t-Be also greatly reduced U.S. casualties by relying upon drone and other aerial bombing and most recently through use of foreign proxy forces which only kill foreign people:
    hxxps://consortiumnews.com/2018/02/04/recipe-concocted-for-perpetual-war-is-a-bitter-one/ .

  4. daryl rush
    August 12, 2023 at 17:05

    The US has lived in it own Vacuum or own atmosphere, our own flatulence, since our beginning. So much so and for so long we can’t sense it.
    We believe what we are told, that is how we manufacture consensus, which allows us to propel our corporate camel military pet on and on.
    We need to lose wars to prove we need the best military we can afford, hard work this mission, if we won wars decisively we would throttle back on expenditure.
    There is no end to our bottomless pit.
    By the way we didn’t win WW2 the Russians defeated the Germans.
    Japan we pummeled and fire bombed, then gratuitously first strike Nuked them to demonstrate our prowess, and show of our new war toy thinking we could dominate all.
    All were destroyed, we were never attacked (Hawaii an outlying colony), we were the only country left totally intact, not only that we profited during the entire war period.
    Were convinced the war stopped the depression, our government had already learned it could alter the depression for its citizens, But the right wing capitalists that got us into the depression, from the time of the new deal went into propagand gear to discredit the possibility of self government by this country’s people.

  5. Frank Lambert
    August 12, 2023 at 13:41

    Dear Mr. Astore, I’ve read most of your articles since the Bush/ Cheney Regime invaded Iraq, a nation which did us no harm, a violation of the Nuremburg Principles against wars of aggression, and you’ve been right on the mark in my opinion for so long.

    To give you and the readers a tidbit of info on what is/was never reported about combat troops, the late Paul Fussell wrote extensively on it, and for you history students like me, check out:


  6. August 12, 2023 at 13:34

    That the United States is ruled by and through its intelligence agencies which consider the US military a tool at best, an obstruction to be dealt with at worst, has been obvious since 2016 although a reality for three quarters of a century. Countries subject to such governance were once considered fascist. Sooo, what’s changed???

  7. Will Durant
    August 12, 2023 at 13:10

    Another piece of the picture:

    Col. Douglas MacGregor (U.S. Army ret.) points to another absurd anomaly.

    American men under arms in WWII: 12.5 million
    American 4-stars in WWWII: 7

    American men and women in the military 2023: 1.2 million
    American 4-stars 2023: 44

    Pretty revealing factoid on “the world’s greatest military.”

  8. Will Durant
    August 12, 2023 at 12:43

    Perhaps the only thing that can and will stop the juggernaut of American militarism and imperialism is the current attempt to de-dollarize world commerce. When the U.S. dollar is no longer the reserve currency of the global economic system and other nations stop buying our debt the show will be over. For me (and I know this has vast economic implications for my children and grandchildren) that day cannot come soon enough.
    It could be different IF we had a truly functioning democracy responsive to our nation’s real needs and IF our citizens were not narcotizing themselves with amusements and IF we could clearly see what we are throwing away in our rulers’ quest for world dominance: the inevitable tradeoffs that weaken our nation from the inside, economically, materially and constitutionally.
    We are almost completely subdued and rendered impotent by a media which sees its job as preserving the status quo because the status quo is good for business UNDER THE CURRENT MODEL. Only when that model changes, imposed from the outside, will the imperial project and business as usual grind to a halt.
    Only when we can no longer print money and sell our treasuries on the “full faith and credit of the United States” will the war machine and our bloated “defense” budget run up against reality. The war machine must be starved, if not through democratic representational means then by external forces beyond the control of our corporate masters and their shills in Congress and the White House.
    It’s sad that we seem unable to change the situation with advocacy, legislative representation, electing a different leader or party or with the aid of a powerful media that sees it’s job as actually educating and informing the American people, challenging rather than enshrining the dominant paradigm. But that’s where we are. The fact that the dominant paradigm may not even be challenged is a clear sign that we have lost our way and that change will be imposed upon us from the outside, and not militarily, but economically. Magical thinking has its price.

    • Frank Lambert
      August 13, 2023 at 11:56

      Excellent comment, W. D. Unfortunately, the “two-party duopoly” will continue doing what their main intent is, which is total control of the world. They have successfully scared American voters not to vote for alternative party candidates, so unless voters chose a new paradigm and start voting for other political party candidates, conditions in the U.S. will worsen for the average citizen.

      I haven’t voted for a Repulsive Party or DemoRAT Party candidate for POTUS since 1996, and proud of it. As Ralph Nader said during his 1999-2000 campaign for President, “the lesser of two evils is still evil.” So, my political mantra is, “Vote for the better of the best.”

  9. Ludwik
    August 12, 2023 at 11:12

    That “exceptional” military machine was chased out of Vietnam by a third world country with a population of 20 million using bicycles as supply chain vehicles. More recently we witnessed the Taliban evicting the world’s most expensive fighting force from Afghanistan, leaving behind billions of dollars of military equipment and munitions. On screen the world witnessed the ignominy of the USA’s defeat as civilians tried to hang onto taxiing planes fleeing Bagram air base, an echo of the helicopter evacuations of CIA personnel from the roof of the Saigon embassy. The world, if not the American populous, is alive to the incompetence, corruption and cruelty of the world’s biggest bully. The whole planet can’t wait for the next humiliation, the USA limping out of Ukraine with its tail between its legs and its foreign policy in tatters.

  10. Nathan Mulcahy
    August 12, 2023 at 10:58

    Rest assured, you are the right person to question General Austin, who is just a p$mp for Raytheon.

    If he, or anyone else for that matter, wanted to know about the real state of affairs of the US military then all one needs to do is read some of Andrei Martyanov’s books, especially “Losing Military Supremacy” and “The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs”. Check them out.

  11. Vera Gottlieb
    August 12, 2023 at 06:02

    Too many American myths that should be mothballed. Too many lies. Too many deceptions. Too much dishonesty. Too much blackmailing. Too much extortion. Too much…

  12. James Apone
    August 12, 2023 at 04:34

    Thank You

  13. Translation
    August 12, 2023 at 03:07

    The US has “The worst military money can buy”

  14. Horatio
    August 11, 2023 at 23:38

    There was a time when I thought I was living in a dream and pinched myself. I kept hoping for another outcome but that reality didn’t go away.

  15. WillD
    August 11, 2023 at 23:29

    We all know how black holes swallow up everything that they touch. Military spending in the US is threatening to do just that. The US economy is already reeling under the burden.

    Like many, I take exception with the constant use of the word ‘exceptional’ to describe the US and its military. The word has now come to have increasingly negative connotations, ruining it for those who wish to use it correctly.

    But now, US exceptionalism is best described as the opposite of what it thinks it is. It is exceptionally bad at war, it is exceptionally expensive to maintain its armed forces, its vast military industrial complex produces exceptionally expensive and exceptionally unfit-for-purpose equipment that is exceptionally expensive to maintain.

    Exceptional, yes – but not in a good way.

  16. wildthange
    August 11, 2023 at 21:14

    We might think that the 20th century was all about the result of WWI being the Russian Revolution and WWII didn’t end the USSR and Japan didn’t contain Mao in China. So onward the Cold War and our permanent military expense account.
    The war to end ears didn’t end well and the outlawing of war just got the military of the world trying hard to proclaim wars as good.

    We knew then that modern world war warfare was a threat to civilization. Our world military protection racket is just more dangerous than ever this century.
    The inflationary cost of full spectrum dominance on top of the inflationary cost of world civilization is now even greater than before and could collapse under a convergence of many threats all at once including cyber war and space war that do indeed risk all of civilization everywhere not just over the Condoleeza Rice horizon.

  17. Robyn
    August 11, 2023 at 20:42

    When I hear that the US hasn’t won a war since WWII, I wonder whether military victory is in fact the aim. Why would any country repeatedly put itself up for military defeat and humiliation for zero payoff. US wars (and coups, assassinations, bribes and sanctions) since WWII have killed millions and reduced a number of countries to ruins. All of those countries have one or both of the following: resources which the US elected to steal or control rather than buy, and/or a government which used its resources to improve the lot of its citizens (free education, free medical care, building infrastructure etc.). Thus competing nations are removed from the equation, the Corporations and their shareholders win, the MIC wins, members of Congress win. And since none of them cares a jot for human life except their own, they sleep safe and sound every night as the war machine marches on to the next country to be taken down.

    • J Anthony
      August 13, 2023 at 10:08

      You nailed it. It clearly isn’t about “winning” at all, not in the sense that we assume, but in merely keeping the funds for our permanent-war economy flowing. After all this time, the bulk of our citizenry still can’t even acknowledge this fact, much less accept it as truth.

  18. Bob Newly
    August 11, 2023 at 19:41

    Black Hole is right on, William, thanks.

    It would be bad enough if the war machine was kept going just to enrich certain segments of the nation, with the occasional bashing of a helpless small nation thrown in for exercise after which we bail after screwing everything up – but now the crazies are pressing for nuclear war, some talking glibly about the scenario being, well, winnable.

    The MIC has this license because the public is enamored with the military and you touched on one of the reasons; the average American knows nothing of the real military and outside of taxes, pays nothing for the wars fought all over the globe, ostensibly for democracy and to combat terrorism. I grew up during the draft, served in Vietnam and I can say with certainty that the guys I served with were not enamored with war or the military.

    I’m think that while a fair and tough-to-dodge draft wouldn’t stop all MIC spending and misadventures, it might slow it down. Cheering war like a football game is easy until the aluminum caskets come home, especially if a fair number are middle and upper class aluminum caskets.

  19. Roger Milbrandt
    August 11, 2023 at 19:25

    I loved this article and intend to save it. It is extremely revealing.
    May voice one reservation? I was taken aback by the statement “After all, America hasn’t won a war in a convincing fashion since 1945.” I suppose you mean the termination of the war against Japan. But “1945” makes me think of the dimension of WW2 and the widespread delusion that it was the US who put an end to Hitler’s Germany. Maybe people in the US would react differently?

    • Vera Gottlieb
      August 12, 2023 at 06:00

      No, it was NOT America who put an end to Hitler’s Germany. It was RUSSIA and in so helping sacrificed some 27 MILLION people – civilians and soldiers. Another Yankee myth…

      • Michael O Malloy
        August 12, 2023 at 09:03

        thank you Vera for pointing out the actual FACT

      • Frank Lambert
        August 12, 2023 at 12:54

        That’s correct, Vera! Even British imperialist said it different words that it was the soviets and the Red Army who beat the heck out of the Germans. You’d never know it by watching Hollywood war movies, melodramas or documentaries about WWII

      • JonnyJames
        August 12, 2023 at 13:55

        Exactly, the Red Army had already destroyed over 75% of the Wehrmacht before June 1944. The Anglo-Americans came it at the last minute. Churchill had hoped Germany and USSR would destroy themselves and the UK/US could take over Europe and finish off Russia at the same time.

      • Laurie Holbrook
        August 12, 2023 at 17:26

        Thank you Vera for contributing that little-known truth in the west.

  20. vinnieoh
    August 11, 2023 at 18:57

    In a letter to the editor during little Georgy’s administration, when all the bumper stickers were “The Power Of Pride” I wrote that I knew that Christians of only several generations ago understood that pride is not a virtue, but a vice, and if it truly has any power, that power is corrosive and harmful. In this samll and highly religious community, all that could be heard was the chirping of crickets.

  21. Diane Rejman
    August 11, 2023 at 18:19

    ““We tortured some folks” — and the only person punished for that was another whistleblower, John Kiriakou, ”
    I believe there were other, true scapegoats – Private Lynndie England, and the other low-level military who blindly followed orders. She ended up in prison. hxxps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynndie_England
    Usually, in a situation where there are true leaders, the “buck” stops at the top. In the case of Guantanamo, The cr..p flowed downhill to the lowest link in the chain. The situation with Lynndie made me sick.

    • Eddy Schmid
      August 11, 2023 at 23:43

      You forget the Melie massacre in Vietnam, there too, the lower ranks were punished, (only one officer, and even then, he was let off after a short period) and the upper ranks all got off scott free.

      • Frank Lambert
        August 13, 2023 at 11:41

        Lt. Colonel Colin Powell was the investigating officer in the My Lai massacre of women, children, babies and old men. He kept it quiet and only the photos with which I think Seymour Hersch had, and made public, would have been unknown to the American people and the world, with the exception of the soldiers taking in part in that horrendous mass murder.

  22. Jeff Harrison
    August 11, 2023 at 17:45

    The United States has its own Praetorian Guard made up of an unholy alliance of the CIA, the FBI, and the US military. They stumbled once and let Donny Murdo in. We won’t see that again.

  23. Valerie
    August 11, 2023 at 17:24

    Hideous. Just hideous.

  24. Caliman
    August 11, 2023 at 17:13

    I’ve said it before: Bill Astore is a national treasure.

    Re this: “The greatest trick the U.S. military ever pulled was essentially convincing us that its wars never existed.”

    No, I think the greatest trick the US military has pulled post-1945 has been the concept that it’s primarily in the business of fighting and winning wars at all. This is not true, as is evident from the many many “failures” the military continues to somehow “not learn” from and the many many “mistakes” it continues to make decade after decade.

    The primary role of the US military is not war fighting; the primary role is the care and feeding of MICIMATT: creating the political conditions for war; developing industrial scale and extremely expensive weapons systems to suit those conditions; and then every once in a while picking on a designated adversary to expend weaponry and create the conditions for the next war and more and more expensive weapons orders.

    As opposed to the wars, our military has been extremely successful in its actual socio-economic mission … exceptional, even.

  25. Mike
    August 11, 2023 at 17:12

    An excellent analysis of the poor current state of affairs of our military “leadership”. It should be required reading in every “hall” of education as well as our rubber stamping useless congress. We need the people to take to the streets as they did during the 1970’s in order to force substantial cuts in this bloated military budget.

  26. Paula
    August 11, 2023 at 16:53

    Great commentary and so regrettably true.

  27. c
    August 11, 2023 at 16:09

    The DOD has never passed an audit. Recall the $2.3T missing funds announced by Rumsfeld on Sept. 10, before all the records were
    destroyed by an air attack at exactly the spot where accountants were investigating. In 2015 the DOD announced another $6T had somehow been ‘lost’. But we do get wonder weapons, such as the $1B stealth bomber which cannot fly in rain. It seems our elected representatives are happy to fund the military as long as the weapons companies fund their campaigns.

  28. Charles E. Carroll
    August 11, 2023 at 15:15

    The loser generals parade every day on tv promoting their wars!

    • Frank Lambert
      August 12, 2023 at 13:32

      Wearing their costumes with a plethora of fruit salad making them look like they were some kind of heroes.

    • Bill Mack
      August 12, 2023 at 15:44

      Make that Dec. 8, 1941… in my reply to “C” .

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