Seven generations of young Americans have marched off to war since World War II ended in September 1945. Everyone who came home was grateful. Some also came home old men. More were lifelong cynics filled with disgust over what they’d done in the name of freedom and humanity. Too many came home in a box. Some even killed themselves, many at Christmastime.
The only thing that really changed about military suicide since 1945 is the number of veterans who die by their own hand. Endless years of both low- and high-intensity conflict without an endgame has produced more veterans committing suicide at a faster clip than all the other “at-risk” groups combined. That is a hell of a thing to be best at.
In response, last week Mr. Trump’s administration tried to kill a modest program to ease homelessness among veterans. Homelessness, helplessness, and suicide ride the same train. The Mango Muffin’s Veterans Affairs secretary was forced to rescind the proposed measure a few days later after a heated outcry erupted.
American troops have remained in harm’s way since the United States began its self-appointed task of unilaterally protecting peace in 1945. The first little conflict was a clandestine effort in Greece between democracy and communism from 1946 through 1949 that went almost unnoticed. The next inconclusive test was held on the Korean Peninsula between June 1950 and July 1953, when communists under Kim Jong-un’s grandfather Kim Il-sung tried to snuff out South Korea’s budding democracy.
South Korea’s government was run by despot Syngman Rhee, an anti-Communist, pro-capitalist dictator the United States propped up with 33,741 American lives during the three-year war. Ninety American service members and 40 South Koreans have been killed by North Koreans since the shaky ceasefire was declared on July 27, 1953. It turned out well considering the U.S. still has 45,000 American troops stationed in divided Korea with their fates in the hands of two internationally recognized lunatics.
After the Korean war ended, the U.S. crusaded around the world until 1959, bringing democracy to the unwilling and unenlightened. Then came the 16-year Vietnam war, followed by the invasion of little Grenada, Panama, the 11-year Iraqi conflict, the 16-year Afghan expedition, and now the threat of a nuclear war on the Asian mainland and thousands of still mysterious troops in Africa. Thousands upon thousands of American lives have been forfeited with no end in sight.
Fighting for peace is hugely expensive. Without endless conflict, Congress could easily afford to rebuild our country. Instead, Americans still are dying in droves to establish the illusive New World Order, fighting for the robust military-industrial complex against Middle Eastern strongmen, soft targets and the world’s lunatic fringe. We have fought them for so long we have become like them.
Most of the old strongmen are dead now, replaced by new strongmen, and still the wars continue. Now that America has alienated most of the world, we are apparently fighting simply because we have nothing else to offer except death and destruction.
The Senate passed a roughly $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act last Monday without eliminating the automatic spending cuts mandated under sequestration, which implements involuntary cuts when the Pentagon demands too much. Even so, the United States intends to spend more money on “defense” than the next 17 most powerful countries in the world combined. And still Trump demands more money from our allies. For what, somebody important needs to ask.
To keep that number in perspective, England is all atwitter about the government commissioning a new aircraft carrier, one of two 70,000-ton jump deck carriers being built. Together they cost Great Britain’s taxpayers 6.2 billion pounds or about $10 billion dollars, exclusive of equipping, manning, and operating them.
Pocket change at the Pentagon. Every time a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group goes to sea, the seventh largest air force in the world goes with it. Each new carrier now costs $13 billion to build. That doesn’t include cost overruns, aircraft, escort ships and crews, equipment, food, salaries for 10,000 or more, and all the other sundry costs associated with each behemoth.
If one is ever lost, almost 5,000 fine young men and women could disappear with it. Their deaths and incapacitations are called “wastage” in military parlance.
The United States has 12 nuclear-powered carriers bigger than Britain’s newest warships. The two newest are 110,000-ton leviathans that can carry 90 aircraft. Their stupendous cost is chicken feed compared to the Littoral Combat Ship program. Those scows have so far cost taxpayers $37 billion for two ships that do everything badly. The ships were intended to cost $447 million a copy. A really big whoops for the Navy.
Forward-thinking naval experts almost unanimously agree the aircraft carrier will soon go the way of the battleship. Their opinion is soundly ignored in public by the CVN (nuclear-powered aircraft carrier) admirals. They are the former pilots of the Top Gun generation who still believe 50-knot CVNs are very hard targets without having to defend one since the Second World War.
Naval officers in private tell stories of learning there were enemy submarines around their aircraft carriers when they surfaced in the middle of our carrier’s battle group to mock it with a red flare.
In any event, without accepting a $1.5 trillion deficit to pay for it, Trump’s grandiose visions of being a great military leader are too expensive. Just declaring peace is much cheaper. Even with the familiar hackneyed, jingoist phrases Mr. Trump spouts, the world’s biggest liar cannot come up with a sustainable reason to pursue more war. Trump’s regime is the biggest enemy the United States faces, not our adversaries.
No doubt America will hear another whopper on the subject pretty soon. Perhaps in a tweet.