Army Major Fears Civilian Policymakers Are "Reliving The 'Good Old Days' Of The Cold War"

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via AntiWar.com,

The Non-Options: 4 Wars the Military Prepares for But Shouldn’t Fight, Part 1

There’s nothing military men like more than obsessively training for wars they will never have to fight. The trick is not to stumble into a conflict that no one will win.

The most senior officers and sergeants refer to them as the "good old days." The Cold War era, that is. I can still hear their repetitive platitudes. Back then, at least, we knew who the enemy wasthere were front lines, and we understood our mission. America looked strong as our tanks and planes patrolled the line dividing Central Europe between its Soviet and Western spheres. It’s odd, in a way, to romanticize a period when the world so often stood at the brink of nuclear annihilation.

Then again, the sentiment is understandable. For years and years, decades even, young soldiers trained hard, never had to actually fight, and could spend their weekends drinking Bavarian beer. Compared to the countless deployments and tens of thousands of post-9/11 casualties in today’s U.S. military, there’s something rather appealing in that old scenario. Best part was, that despite bluster from the likes of President Reagan about the Soviet’s "evil empire," the all-out Communist assault on Western Europe was never coming. Truth is, serious scholars and analysts know it now, and the most erudite knew it then. Now, after 17 years of ongoing brushfire wars in the Greater Middle East, many senior military folks seem poised to get back what they’re good at: prepping for wars they’ll (hopefully) never have to fight.

There’s lots of talk around Washington and in the Pentagon these days about how and why the US military must extricate from its various small wars in the Mideast and "pivot" to a focus on "Great Power" conflict. Heck, Trump’s National Security Strategy lays it out quite clearly. The administration calls the policy "principled realism" – which sounds great – but let’s call it what it really is: a new strategy to pressure and contain four key global "adversaries" – Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea.

While I’m 100% onboard with de-escalation in Southwest Asia, some of the bellicose rhetoric about renewed "Great Power" competition is troubling. My fear is that as the military, especially the army, positions itself for major war with heavyweight powers, it – and its commander-in-chief – might just be foolish enough to think they can or should actually fight one. That’s a terrifying thought because the truth is everyone, all sides, would lose in a major regional or global war.

See, the Cold War military – with the exception of its ill-advised interventions in Korea and Vietnam – knew its role: to train, prepare, but probably never actually fight (at least not the Russians). Problem is, this military, the one I’ve served in, thinks hot war is normal. It’s all we’ve done for almost two decades! Today’s generals, and their civilian chiefs, might just be crazy enough to think we oughta actually duke it out with a major power. Someone needs to explain to these guys the old-school rules of big-boy, modern conflict: we pretend to be prepared for an attack, they (our "adversaries") pretend one is coming! You’re not supposed to actually fight one of these things out!

Crazy part is, I’m only half-kidding. Sarcasm aside, though, over my next several articles at Antiwar.com, I’ll look at the four areas where Washington is ramping up its military presence and pugnacious language, and just why war is a terrible option to be avoided at all costs.

This week: Russia. Putin.

They’re on the tip of everyone’s tongues lately, especially those of the alarmists over at MSNBC. We’re told they’re on the move everywhere, seeking dominance in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, even the Middle East. Everyone laughed when candidate Romney called Russia America’s greatest security threat, but given the tone in Washington these days, old Mitt seems vindicated.

In response to supposed Russian aggression, the US military has started forward deploying modest-sized units to the Baltic States, Poland, Romania, and other old Warsaw Pact borderlands. We’re also told the US must stay put, indefinitely, in the Syrian debacle, in order to deter Russia. Sounds a lot like the Cold War 2.0. But is that really in US interests, and, is it warranted?

No doubt, the US military must be prepared to back its key allies in Europe and, in an emergency, check Russian attacks on partners or the homeland itself. Still, a little perspective is in order.

If Russia were after world domination, they’ve made a paltry effort so far. Every single recent Russian conflict has been fought on soil that was only recently part of the Soviet Union or where (as in Syria) they’ve long had a military base. That’s right, none of this "aggression" has come near to any classical NATO territory. Let’s review the record of actual military events (leaving the cyber-attacks, alleged collusion and election meddling to the nightly rants of Rachel Maddow):

  • flawed "victory" in a short war with Georgia (Stalin’s birthplace), which left the state independent but exposed many shortfalls in the Russian army.

  • series of long, bloody wars to suppress Islamist and separatists insurgents within the Russian Federation province of Chechnya. And don’t forget, Russia is still concerned about jihadism within and along its southern border.

  • Direct and proxy- interventions in Ukraine and the seizure of Crimea, after the USbacked the overthrow of a flawed but elected and sovereign president, in what amounted to a local coup. As for the Crimean annexation, most locals desired it and Crimea was historically part of Russia. It’s not that I love all these Russian decisions, but let’s call a spade a spade.

  • An ongoing intervention to prop up Bashar al-Assad and secure its only naval base on the Mediterranean Sea, a base it has long possessed, in the country of an ally it has long had. Not exactly revisionism, this. Besides, Syria is just as likely to turn into a quagmire and a nightmare for Russia. Let them have that mess.

And, well, that’s about it. It’s not that US and Russian interests are always aligned. It’s not that the US should never contest expansion of Russian influence. Rather, the point is that the threat from the Russian Bear is overhyped and not worth a potentially nuclear war. Russia has one aircraft carrier, spends a fraction of what the US does on its military, is facing a demographic crisis (high death and low birth rates, plus a shrinking ethnic Russian percentage of the population), and has an economy about the size of Spain or Italy.

To stir up the controversy a bit more, consider the possibility that Russia’s got some genuine gripes, too. After the Cold War, the USbroke its promise not to expand NATO into Eastern Europe. Instead, it absorbed nearly the whole region and even some former Soviet Republics (i.e. the Baltic States). The US intervened repeatedly in the Balkans, bombing Russia’s Serbian allies, and recognizing the unilaterally declared independence of what amounts to a flawed Kosovar state. The US has militarily invaded country after country to Russia’s south – places much closer to Moscow than to Milwaukee – and destabilized an entire region. Look, the US isn’t always evil, but neither is Russia always wrong.

So here’s my best strategic prediction: Russia’s army is not planning an invasion of central Europe or the destruction of NATO. It has neither power, intent, nor capacity to do so. What they do have is lots of tanks, lots of planes, and lots of nukes. We do not want a shooting war with these guys and have little strategic interest in doing so. It’s all risk no reward.

So, America’s generals, admirals, and civilian policymakers: plan and train away. Relive the "good old days" of Cold War glory. But please, be smart, show some maturity, and don’t start a war with Russia that everyone will lose.

*  *  *

Danny Sjursen is a US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

Comments

vato poco StackShinyStuff Fri, 05/04/2018 - 02:20 Permalink

this isn't: you're a fuckin disgrace to your country and to the uniform, Major danny boy. any active-duty servicemember, much less a fuckin officer, has no business whatsoever pumping out the bullshit you've pumped out of late.

active duty personnel don't get to criticize and second-guess their chain of command, you middle-management snowflake POS.

resign your commission, scumbag. then you can flap your idiot jaws all you want, and I'll be the first to cheer your stupid ass onward. until then, shut the fuck up, lowlife.

In reply to by StackShinyStuff

not dead yet vato poco Fri, 05/04/2018 - 04:00 Permalink

Piss off arm chair hero. The Major has seen combat while you sat nice and comfy in your lazy boy. Today's Majors become tomorrows generals. Would you rather he be a John Bolton clone or a sane voice in the room when the heavy brass plot their machinations. If we locked up every military person who criticized the military every military person would be in the slam. As long as he is not spilling classified information he has the right to express his views and it's obvious his superiors agree. Have you ever thought, guess thinking is beyond your comprehension, that the Major is expressing the views of many of the brass who would put their career at risk by voicing the same views and encourage the Major in his writings? I like to read his stuff because he offers some insights and I can also tell how much of his stuff is typical military pablum that he is being fed and swallowed.

In reply to by vato poco

vato poco not dead yet Fri, 05/04/2018 - 04:29 Permalink

let me ask you a question, internet tough guy - if you can manage to look up from your deep sniffage of Major danny's jockstrap, that is ...

do you suppose hardened combat veteran Major danny - whose bio, I note carefully avoids the words "saw combat" or "in action" - do you suppose he'd smile genially if one of his little corporals or maybe a 2nd Looey were to write and publish an article questioning Major danny's leadership?

how might that go, do ya think?

'cause *I* think that while Major danny talks a good game about 'let's all question the chain of command' - just like that asshole McMaster did - he'd go fuckin ballistic if a lesser-being-than-Major ever dared do it to HIM. (just like that asshole McMaster did)

OK, I'm done. you can go back to blowing your boy now

In reply to by not dead yet

bigkahuna vato poco Fri, 05/04/2018 - 04:39 Permalink

He is the only uniformed officer I see speaking out in a public forum conveying any sense in regard to military operations. Everyone else with rare exception will go along to get along (aka follow their orders no matter what) not having the fortitude to speak up about what is best for our country. This guy is a true leader amidst the barrage of tools that currently pass for leaders in the armed services. To an extant, you need people who will follow orders in the DoD. That ends when you have a bunch of psychopaths in charge -congress/mic- If its for the good of the country, great. If its a sham designed to visit death and chaos on civilians for the benefit of banksters and corporate interests - well you better have a lot of guys like him pushing back on the status quo - or we will be on the wrong side of history to say the least.

Keep up the critical thinking MAJ Sjursen - those in uniform are the last line of defense before the torches come out.

In reply to by vato poco

vato poco bigkahuna Fri, 05/04/2018 - 04:49 Permalink

you realize that whole "orders and regulations and laws and superior officers be damned, this is what I feeeeeel the country needs me to do" thing is pretty much word-for-word what the Deep State scum actively engaged in sedition are telling themselves. 

funny how that works

seriously, except for the fact Major danny signs his stuff, how are his actions any different from Comey/Clapper/Brennan doing their best to run a coup de etat?

In reply to by bigkahuna

vato poco DarthVader101 Fri, 05/04/2018 - 05:23 Permalink

and yet the questions go oddly unanswered. 

1) would Major danny boy be cool with published bullshit questioning of his leadership ability/command fitness from an enlisted man/subordinate officer?

2) aside from the scale of it, is there any real difference between Deep State scum "resisting the lawfully elected President because we feeeeeeel that we know best" and what Major danny is doing?

In reply to by DarthVader101

youshallnotkill Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:47 Permalink

A baby cheeked major would of course not remember the first thing about the cold war. Growing up in West-Germany I've seen this all before, Putin doesn't even try to hide it very well, because he enjoys to rub it in.

Meanwhile in other news:

As of last week, the American public had been told that President Trump’s doctor had certified he would be “the healthiest individual ever elected.” That the president was happy with his legal team and would not hire a new lawyer. That he did not know about the $130,000 payment to a former pornographic film actress who claimed to have had an affair with him.

As of this week, it turns out that the statement about his health was not actually from the doctor but had been dictated by Mr. Trump himself. That the president has split with the leaders of his legal team and hired the same new lawyer he had denied recruiting. And that Mr. Trump himself had financed the $130,000 payment intended to buy the silence of the actress known as Stormy Daniels.

All of this is factual but you must not believe it because the NYT wrote it.

 

cesar Thu, 05/03/2018 - 23:55 Permalink

Well said & enough said. Thank You Danny Sjursen!

If only idiots like Hillary, Nikki, John Mccaine, MSM talking heads and other assorted imbeciles were listening.

francis scott … Fri, 05/04/2018 - 00:10 Permalink

Army Major Fears Civilian Policymakers Are

"Reliving The 'Good Old Days' Of The Cold War"

Civilian Policymakers Are Trying To Bring Back "The

'Good Old Days' Of The Cold War's Global Economy "

 

There, fixed it for you

 

******************************

"don’t start a war with Russia that

 everyone will lose."

Hey, has anybody heard from Paul Wolfowitz?

I wonder what he's been up to lately?

 

Yen Cross Fri, 05/04/2018 - 00:20 Permalink

 Coming from the pasty faced FBI reject?

  Did I forget to mention eur/usd  double bottomed?

  Based on the hourly chart, the toilet is going to flush in the morning.

  Gotta take out the weak longs first.

  usd/chf is where it's at. The SNB is underwater/

mabuhay1 Fri, 05/04/2018 - 01:16 Permalink

Army Major?  A low level officer should know enough to keep him big mouth shut.  Of course, this "officer" is a Russian Intelligence Major commenting upon US leaders, so he does not care.

scraping_by Fri, 05/04/2018 - 02:21 Permalink

Ah, the schadenfreude of it all. Used to be the 'Commies under the bed!" howl was the sign of Boobus Americanus, low-information flyover people trying to sound smarter than their sources. Now it's the accepted wisdom for the accepted wisdom insiders who gloat over their elite woke status. It's the new Imperialist Chic.

Live and let live is a general code for the Deplorables, mostly because they/we bear the cost, and get no benefit. And most of the talking heads promoting the slogan of Russian Imperialism probably know it's not true. Or they know nothing, and just like repeating the latest.

VideoEng_NC Fri, 05/04/2018 - 03:25 Permalink

So here’s my best strategic prediction: Russia’s army is not planning an invasion of central Europe or the destruction of NATO. It has neither power, intent, nor capacity to do so.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  And when wisdom starts to set in, you realize you don't know squat, let alone the future.

Vilfredo Pareto VideoEng_NC Fri, 05/04/2018 - 08:32 Permalink

I think it is pretty obvious a declining demographic with a fragile economy the size of Spain and a per capita GDP about half of Portugal has too much on its plate to want to invade  central Europe, even if the ruskies had the capacity to do so.

 

Germany doesn't even need the four euro fighters it has that are operational.   An invasion simply won't happen.  Time for Germany and others to drop the pretense that a military is even necessary at this point.

In reply to by VideoEng_NC

L Cornelius Sulla Fri, 05/04/2018 - 08:10 Permalink

The rank of major is supposed to lend credibility to a position?  If anyone wants to trade on their service, they should at least have the decency to make 0-6.  The fact that he hasn't - as well as the fact that he is pursuing a PhD in civil rights - provides sufficient background information to place his thoughts into context. 

currency Fri, 05/04/2018 - 09:01 Permalink

Agree - McCain and his band of NEOCONS all thy can talk about is RUSSIA RUSSIA WAR WAR - conflict - the truly real threat is China and they are building up - they have the resources manpower and desire to challenge the US. Yet our group of Corrupt politicians and corporations bow to China for China pays them a lot of $$$$$$$$$$ - Mitch McConnell wifes family is in shipping and just acquired from China 10 more large ships they are close to the Chinese leadership and Mitch and his wife are given gifts from her family refer to the latest book by Peter Schwetzer on how our US Politician make a lot of money???????///