The present-day U.S. military qualifies by any measure as highly professional, much more so than its Cold War predecessor. Yet the purpose of today’s professionals is not to preserve peace but to fight unending wars in distant places. Intoxicated by a post-Cold War belief in its own omnipotence, the United States allowed itself to be drawn into a long series of armed conflicts, almost all of them yielding unintended consequences and imposing greater than anticipated costs. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces have destroyed many targets and killed many people. Only rarely, however, have they succeeded in accomplishing their assigned political purposes. . . . [F]rom our present vantage point, it becomes apparent that the “Revolution of ‘89” did not initiate a new era of history. At most, the events of that year fostered various unhelpful illusions that impeded our capacity to recognize and respond to the forces of change that actually matter.

Andrew Bacevich

Monday, January 13, 2020

News of the Day for Monday, January 12, 2020

Steven Cook, writing for Foreign Policy, says there is nothing left for the U.S. to do in Iraq. It's worth reading the whole thing but here's a good pull quote.

Iraq is not a state in the sense that it has a monopoly over violence or can enforce property rights. The system of political and economic spoils set up after the 2003 invasion has led to rapacious thievery and corruption, robbing Iraq of its natural wealth and impoverishing its people. As a result, Iraqis have lost faith in virtually every institution and have poured onto the streets across much of the country to demand a new political order. They have been met with violence at the hands of people allied to and supported by the now-dead Suleimani, whose mission was to ensure that post-invasion Iraq remained so weak and unstable it could never threaten Iran again. This was an entirely predictable result, but the George W. Bush administration, 296 members of the House of Representatives77 Senators, and legions of pundits chose to believe fantasies about weapons of mass destruction and democracy delivered at the end of an M1A1 tank.
Muqtada al-Sadr meets with representatives of Iran-backed militias to discuss expelling U.S. forces from Iraq.

Katyusha attack on Balad air base injures four Iraqi soldiers. (Katyushas are inaccurate, clearly the attack was meant to target the U.S. presence.)

King Abdullah of Jordan warns that IS is regrouping, in southeast Syria and western Iraq, and that many fighters have made their way to Libya.

Some fifty protesters are injured in clashes with security forces in Wasit. The protesters are demanding removal of the police chief.

U.S. identifies soldiers killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan as Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Va., and Pfc. Miguel A. Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Ill. Both were assigned to 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.