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Thinking the Unthinkable: Has the US Lost Its Military Edge?
Perhaps the US isn't as strong as we thought
We watched in embarrassed horror as America’s longest war in Afghanistan ended almost identically to its second-longest, Vietnam.
When horrific events occur, the brain constructs an explanation. Most of us have served and still revered the armed forces of the United States constructed purely political explanations for what we saw. We blamed Joe Biden, of course, and his corrupt and incompetent League of Nitwits running the executive branch.
We also blamed the military’s insane and derelict twin focuses on “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” and global warming for reducing readiness which distract the services from the hard work of preparing to fight wars. We all conclude that the Afghanistan debacle was a anomaly.
But if what it wasn’t?
What if Afghanistan accurately reflected the federal government’s ability to conduct a military operation? What if the US armed forces have sunk so far, so fast that any random collection of goat herders with AK47s and assorted hand grenades could overwhelm the woke American soldiers in a matter of hours? What if all it takes to render the US military useless is to shout the wrong pronouns?
A writer named Dmitry Orlov (about whom I know nothing more, except that his name is identical to that of an NHL player who recently signed with the Carolina Hurricanes) wrote a blog post yesterday that leads one to wonder whether the US is actually capable of going toe to toe with any military more advanced than a Haitian warlord. After all, the southern border proves the US is no match for Latin American cartels, and Afghanistan seems to show our war-fighting strategists would struggle to win a game of Risk.
Orlov blames Volodymyr Zelensky’s ostracization at the recent NATO meeting on embarrassment—embarrassment caused by NATO’s realization that its vaunted military hardware and strategy stockpiles were illusory. (Emphasis mine.)
So, what did the Ukrainians do to raise the ire of the Pentagon so suddenly, and as a direct consequence, fall into disfavor with NATO? In short, the Ukrainians demonstrated that NATO's weapons are crap.
Most Westerners laughed dismissively when reading that line, but Orlov provides some pretty sound justification for his conclusion that NATO weapons are crap:
Evidence of this built up slowly over time. First, it turned out that various bits of US-made shoulder-fired junk — anti-aircraft Stingers, anti-tank Javelins, etc — are rather worse than useless in modern combat. Next, it turned out that the M777 howitzer and the HIMARS rocket complex are rather fragile and aren't field-maintainable.
The next wonder-weapon thrown at the Ukrainian problem was the Patriot missile battery. It was deployed near Kiev and the Russians quickly made a joke of it. They [Russians] attacked it [Patriot missile batteries] with their super-cheap Geranium 5 "flying moped" drones, causing it to turn on its active radar, thereby unmasking its position, and then fire off its entire load of rockets — a million dollars' worth! — after which point it just sat there, unmasked and defenseless, and was taken out by a single Russian precision rocket strike.
Most of us learned during the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) that the Patriots were only marginally effective against ancient rockets fired by less-than-stellar Iraqi troops. (I was still on active duty during that war.) The Pentagon assured taxpayers that succeeding generations of the Patriot technology improved greatly. But claims of the Patriot’s impenetrability were wildly exaggerated. Just ask Israel. Or Foreign Policy magazine, which wrote in 2018:
On March 25, Houthi forces in Yemen fired seven missiles at Riyadh. Saudi Arabia confirmed the launches and asserted that it successfully intercepted all seven.
This wasn’t true. It’s not just that falling debris in Riyadh killed at least one person and sent two more to the hospital. There’s no evidence that Saudi Arabia intercepted any missiles at all. And that raises uncomfortable questions not just about the Saudis, but about the United States, which seems to have sold them — and its own public — a lemon of a missile defense system.
Social media images do appear to show that Saudi Patriot batteries firing interceptors. But what these videos show are not successes. One interceptor explodes catastrophically just after launch, while another makes a U-turn in midair and then comes screaming back at Riyadh, where it explodes on the ground.
Orlov hints at the reason for US weapons-systems failures: corruption.
This was sure to have seriously pissed off US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, whose major personal cash cow happens to be Raytheon, the maker of the Patriot.
The Intercept was all over this in 2020 when Austin was nominated to be Biden’s Secretary of Defense:
Remember, too, that General “Mad Dog” Mattis tried to force the Marine Corps to implement Theranos’ fraudulent blood testing scheme in combat theatres when he was a Marine Corps general. Upon retiring, Mattis was rewarded with a seat on the Theranos board. Leftwing Vox reported in 2018:
Mattis not only served on Theranos’s board during some of the years it was perpetrating the fraud after he retired from US military service, but he earlier served as a key advocate of putting the company’s technology (technology that was, to be clear, fake) to use inside the military while he was still serving as a general.
Do you see the pattern?
US corporations win defense contracts by bribing senior military officers and DoD personnel, not by making weapons that work. Weapons or blood testing machines, for that matter. In the meantime, the US military replaces combat training with Critical Race Theory and Wokist Indocrination. The Pentagon forced its members to receive the dangerous and ineffective Covid vaccines which reduced readiness and ruined the careers of their best soldiers and sailors.
Orlov matches my level of cynicism by explaining what NATO is:
NATO is a captive buyers' club for US-made weapons. That is what vaunted NATO standards, with which the Ukraine must comply before it is deemed worthy to be invited to join NATO, are all about: to comply with these standards, your weapons have to be mostly US-made. That is also the reason for all of the various wars of choice, from Serbia to Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya and Syria: these were demonstration projects for US weapons, with the additional goal of using up the weapons and the munitions so that the Pentagon and the rest of NATO would have to reorder them. The geopolitical rationales for these military conflicts are mere rationalizations.
Mark Milley, whose relief as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had a Congressional hearing last week, will soon sit on the board or the executive management of a defense contractor that will refill the US arsenal. Milley will make more in bonuses in one year than a Marine battalion makes in a year. He’s already earned that bonus by “finding” billions in accounting errors with which to deplete more and more weapons from the US arsenal to the Ukrainian killing fields.
The US arsenal is so depleted that the US has decided to ship Zelensky cluster bombs because, according Joe Biden, we’re out of everything else. That’s a lot of weapons orders that Milley will get to fill in his new job.
For Americans who depend on the US military for defense, we should feel extremely vulnerable. And those of us with loved ones in uniform should be terrified. Today’s service member is poorly trained for combat, poorly equipped, and using weapons systems that were selected by graft, not merit.
All empires die, and the American empire seems unlikely to survive to the end of Biden’s presidency. As Steve Bannon says, “elections have consequences. Stolen elections have catastrophic consequences.”