Yesterday, according to NYTimes/BBC/LeMonde, the US military upped the number of troops being send to the southern Phillipines to help “fight” the Abu Sayef “terrorist” group that is allegedly linked to Al Qaeda, much like every terrorist group these days. This increase in troop presence in the Phillipines will bring the number of US military there to close to 3,000. On the same day, a pair of CIA operatives, which are essentially secret soldiers, were captured by the FARC rebel group in Colombia. The US has decided to increase the amount of “advisors” (you’ll remember president LBJ sending a few thousand advisors to a place called Vietnam) it has in that region… pushing it to around 1,000. How many thousands of US military are left in Afghanistan? How many thousands are running around pretending to shoot at each other and getting killed in accidents in the Kuwait area? How many thousands are stationed in South Korea for whatever bizarre reason? Japan?
The point of all this? Well… it’s clearly a military economy in the US. Its one of the biggest employers in the world, the American military. It makes money for weapons manufacturers, natural resource corporations, etc. Trouble is, how big is too big? Will there ever be a point when the military is suddenly facing crises in multiple places? What if Abu Sayef demolishes the 3 thou marines? What if the FARC picks off US military one by one? What if the Taliban, who are reorganizing in the North, what if they come down armed to the teeth and reak havoc on US and allied troops? What if Urban warfare isn’t as glamorous as it sounds in Iraq? All these things are possible… perhaps not on the scale the I propose… but if they were to even happen on a small scale… why is it worth it? To make the world a better place? OR is it political? Is it about power, and not about humanity?
I think of perhaps an odd example… but I think about the Portuguese military in the 70’s… for years they’d been sent up and down Africa.. fighting in Mozambique, Guinea-Bassau, and Angola, Goa (to some extent).. the neverending colonial wars… in the great name of Portuguese-Africa. Thousands upon thousands fought and died, on both sides. But at some point, they had had enough. It was the military that rose up! The military that stopped shooting and started asking, “Why are we doing this? Why are we here? Who is this leader of ours?” They changed the country… not alone, but they were the spark, and without them it may have never ended.
Perhaps in the US… the spark has to come from the same place. Could it be that one day… and soon… the military men and women, who have for so long followed orders without question.. will they turn and ask their commander-in-chief, “Why am I fighting? Where is the proof? What is the purpose? Why must I die? Why must I kill?”