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One of the first acronyms I learned in the military was KISS. No, not the heavy metal band. No, nothing romantic either. It stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” The lesson: don’t think too much. That leads to “analysis paralysis.” Be decisive! Act, if need be, with extreme prejudice, a preference expressed vulgarly as “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out.”
It’s a preference readily expressed by the current crop of political candidates for commander-in-chief. With the possible exceptions of Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, all are slavering for a chance to bomb the bastards back to the Stone Age. Like the young macho fools in the movie “Boiler Room,” they all want to wield their (fantasy) big swinging dicks. They’re all budding Curtis LeMays, cigar-chomping bulls in a china shop.
Indeed, the bull rather than the eagle should be the symbol of American foreign policy. Always charging off to foreign lands, always striving to gore anyone within reach of its horns, all in the name of being decisive, of showing that “America means business” (and not just on Wall Street).
To this season’s peculiar electoral crop of presidential candidates, it looks remarkably easy to win wars. Just bomb the bastards! Teach them not to mess with Team USA. Heck, I’m sure it looked easy to the political hacks of London in 1775 as they faced a perceived terrorist threat in a faraway land. Just send some “special ops” Redcoats supported by Hessian mercenaries (boots on the ground!) to teach those New England terrorists a lesson. Use superior technology (in this case, gunboats) to bombard their rebellious cities (like Boston). Never mind civilian casualties – a show of force will show the bastards who’s boss.
At least the British had enough sense to cut their losses after six years of bungling that ended at Yorktown (1781). The U.S. today just keeps sending more troops and more money and more bombs overseas, each time expecting victory instead of the destruction and chaos that characterized previous misadventures (Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria …).
American foreign policy: It’s become like a bull in the ring, snorting, pawing at the ground, racing madly at red capes. Each time it thinks it’s going to get that cape – until it ends up impaled on the toreador’s sword.
Copyright 2015 W.J. Astore. First published in The Contrary Perspective.
William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and professor of history, has written for TomDispatch.com, Truthout, History News Network (HNN), Alternet, and Huffington Post among other sites. He is the author or co-author of three books and numerous articles focusing on military history as well as the history of science, technology, and religion
— A strange love indeed.