Fu­ture wars look sadly fa­mil­iar

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Ge­orgie Anne Geyer Colum­nist Ge­orgie Anne Geyer has been a for­eign cor­re­spon­dent and com­men­ta­tor on in­ter­na­tional af­fairs for more than 40 years. She can be reached at gigi_ geyer@juno.com.

Up un­til at least Nov. 8, the na­tion’s at­ten­tion will doubt­less be fo­cused on the “war” in­side the coun­try -- the tu­mul­tuous po­lit­i­cal con­flict rip­ping us to pieces. But I am con­stantly amazed at how lit­tle at­ten­tion we give to the wars out­side that one can eas­ily ar­gue were the roots of the pro­found di­vi­sions and in­fan­tile di­ver­sions we so un­hap­pily live with to­day.

It’s the me­dia, many say (not think­ing very deeply). It’s re­dis­trict­ing in the states, giv­ing both Democrats and Repub­li­cans nearly to­tal con­trol over their re­gions. No, oth­ers will ar­gue, it goes back as far as kinder­garten when tykes get lit­tle or no train­ing in be­ing de­cent peo­ple, much less re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens.

But now, when one would think all the ar­gu­ments had been ex­hausted, for­give me if I put for­ward one more -- and let me back into my brief ex­po­si­tion with a lit­tle-noted ar­ti­cle I spied on the front page of The New York Times re­cently.

“SO­MALI STRAT­EGY RE­VEALS NEW FACE OF U.S. WAR­FARE,” the ar­ti­cle was head­lined, and then: “Us­ing African Al­lies and Lessons From ‘93 to Strike Is­lamists.”

The ar­ti­cle went on to make some very -- very -- in­ter­est­ing points: An as-yet “clan­des­tine” war in So­ma­lia over the past year (Did you know we were at war with and in So­ma­lia, too?) is a “blue­print for war­fare” in the fu­ture; it is al­ready a “model” that the U.S. is em­ploy­ing across the Mid­dle East and North Africa, from Syria to Libya. In fact, “hun­dreds of Amer­i­can troops now ro­tate through makeshift bases in So­ma­lia, the largest mil­i­tary pres­ence since the United States pulled out of the coun­try af­ter the ‘Black Hawk Down’ bat­tle in 1993.”

In short, what this well-doc­u­mented and well-thoughtout piece is say­ing is that, once again, we have put aside the old fears about Viet­nam. Those 50,000 Amer­i­can dead and the hun­dreds of thou­sands of oth­ers killed don’t seem to worry us any­more. And with no draft (thank you, Mr. Nixon!), our mil­i­tary ac­tions be­come fur­ther re­moved and re­mote, more like some­thing oc­cur­ring on an­other planet.

Our Amer­i­can sol­diers are, at this very mo­ment, sup­port­ing Iraqi Sun­nis, Kur­dish pesh­merga, Ira­nian Shi­ites (to a far lesser de­gree) and God only knows who else to take back the large Iraqi city of Mo­sul. Af­ter 15 long and un­pro­duc­tive years, we con­tinue to fight in Afghanistan (mostly against the Tal­iban, which stemmed from the mu­ja­hedeen we trained to fight the Sovi­ets in the 1979 war), with no end in sight.

Barack Obama came into the pres­i­dency -- wisely, I be­lieve -- ready to keep Amer­i­can boots in Amer­i­can towns, but the dark re­al­i­ties of the sit­u­a­tion -- an Iraq fall­ing apart, an ISIS ris­ing, an Iran ready to move in where Sad­dam had ruled, the Mid­dle and Near East col­laps­ing in­ter­nally with no real spirit for re­form -- were too much for him.

So, as this un­war­like pres­i­dent leaves the White House, he is leav­ing a new pat­tern of war­fare -- Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions troops lead­ing fights against coun­tries we have no real fight with, airstrikes lib­er­ally ap­plied, drones here and there, pri­vate con­trac­tors tak­ing the place of mil­i­tar­ily dis­ci­plined in­sti­tu­tions and in­di­vid­u­als. This is what the fu­ture will be, and it is time that the Amer­i­can peo­ple re­al­ize it.

If Hil­lary is elected pres­i­dent, I would ex­pect the So­mali pat­tern to be pretty close to hers. If The Don­ald is elected, I would ex­pect a more quirky mil­i­tary pol­icy, but less dis­ci­plined and far more vi­o­lent.

We can dream of an Amer­ica that has a more cau­tious and care­ful mil­i­tary for­eign pol­icy, one in which our blessed land stands as a pru­dent ex­am­ple and not a hun­gry em­peror. But un­til the Amer­i­can peo­ple them­selves pay at­ten­tion to the bombs their gov­ern­ment is drop­ping -- and I mean that fig­u­ra­tively, as well as ac­tu­ally -- that is not likely to hap­pen.

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