Broken Army, Broken Empire
The insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan have thus
far cost fewer U.S. lives than the Filipino insurgency
of 1899-1902. Yet Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter
Schoomaker warned Congress last week the U.S. Army
"will break" without more troops.
We started this war "flat-footed," with
500,000 fewer soldiers than we had before the Gulf War,
says the general, who wants 7,000 soldiers added yearly
to the 507,000 on active duty.
The Army is
"about broken," agrees Colin Powell, the former
chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Powell believes we "are
losing the war" in Iraq, but opposes any "surge"
of 15,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops, as urged by Sen. John
"There are no additional troops," says Powell.
"All we would be doing is keeping some of the troops
who were there, there longer, and escalating or
accelerating the arrival of other troops."
Retired Gen. Kevin Ryan agrees: "Today, the 37
combat brigades of the active Army are almost totally
consumed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With all
units either deployed, returning from deployment or
preparing to deploy, there is none left to prepare for
Yet, adds Ryan, "Our published defense strategy
requires a military that can defend our homeland,
sustain two major wars, be present in key regions abroad
and fight a global war on terrorism. With Marine and
Army ground forces barely able to fight the two major
wars, the other security tasks are left to flyovers and
ship visits from our Air Force and Navy."[Stretched
Too Thin, by Kevin Ryan, Washington Post,
What these generals are saying is ominous. Not only
is the United States "losing" the war in Iraq,
the Army is breaking and we do not have the troops to
meet the commitments America has made all over the
world. In short, U.S. foreign policy is bankrupt. We
cannot meet all the IOUs we have outstanding if several
are called at once.
What kind of superpower is it whose army can be
"broken" by two insurgencies that have required only
half the number of troops we sent to Korea, and a third
of the number we sent to Vietnam?
If our Army is "about broken" now, how do we
propose to defend the Baltic republics and, if Bush and
neocons get their way,
Ukraine and Georgia from a revanchist Russia? How
could we fight a second Korean war, the
first of which required a third of a million men?
If our Army is "about broken," has our
commander in chief lost his mind when he issues
bellicose ultimatums to Tehran?
And if our Army is not built to "sustain a long
war," are not those people insane who talk wildly of
fighting "World War IV"? In World War II, we had
12 million men under arms on V-E Day.
Our Army, says Abizaid, is not "built to sustain a
long war." Yet we are committed by NATO to defend
Central and Eastern Europe—including the Baltic
republics and the eastern Balkans, against a resurgent
Russia. We are committed to defend Israel, Kuwait, Iraq,
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states from Iran. We are
committed to defend Afghanistan from the Taliban,
South Korea from North Korea, and Japan and
Who do we think we are kidding? America today is like
an auto insurance company with the cash on hand to
handle one or two fender-benders, but anything beyond
that means Chapter 11.
In the Reagan decade, writes
national security analyst William Hawkins, the
United States had 18 Army divisions. Clinton cut it to
10. Yet, since Reagan, we have not cut commitments, but
added to them: in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Gulf
and the Taiwan Strait.
The American Imperium is hollow. We have nowhere near
the troops to sustain the security commitments and war
guarantees we have ladled out. Like the Brits in 1945,
ours is an overstretched empire with a sinking currency,
whose enemies are salivating at the prospect of being in
on the kill.
America may need a larger Army. More imperative is
the need for a radical reduction in treaty and war
While the U.S. Navy and Air Force remain supreme, the
Army and Marines are, as Abizaid says, too small a force
to fight a long war. We must adjust our commitments to
reflect our capabilities and, beyond that, to defend
only what is truly vital to the national security.
While our armed forces are more than adequate to
defend us, they are insufficient to defend an empire.
Rather than bleed and bankrupt the nation endlessly, we
should let go of the empire.
Americans must learn how to mind our own business and
cease to meddle in other nation`s quarrels.
Iraq was never a threat to the United States. Only
our mindless intervention has made it so.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America,
can be ordered from