A Case For Renaming The Department Of Defense.

Until 1947, the United States military operated under the name Department of War.  At that time, it split into the Department of the Army, the Department of the Air Force and the Department of the Navy. Then, in 1949, the service branches were brought together under a new name – the Department of Defense (DoD). Tired of war, our representative government apparently intended the new name to reflect a change of philosophy; one that would prioritize the defense of our homelands so that we would never again experience a Pearl Harbor.

If that truly was the case, the name has long since become a misnomer;

Since the name change, the US has been involved in dozens of wars on foreign soil (Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, Libya, Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and more). Not one of these wars involved military actions in defense of our homeland. Indeed, the Department of Defense is no longer tasked with defending our borders. Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002, that task has been left to DHS, the Border Patrol, US Customs, the US Coast Guard and the National Guard.

The Department of Defense has, instead, been given the task of projecting our military power to lands far from our shores in support of our corporations and allies. The DoD currently has more than 700 bases of operations in 59 nations around the world. Most are merely anachronistic reminders of World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War. So, too, is the name.

Why does the name matter?

It’s not merely a matter of accuracy. Calling the War Department a Defense Department is a form of propaganda. It engenders blind loyalty. After all, which would you more likely support? A military devoted to defense? Or a military devoted to war? Are you more likely to thank a soldier who is serving in defense of our country? Or a mercenary who is waging war in another land on behalf of greedy corporations?

Names matter. Truth matters.

If we are ever going to end our endless participation in wars, we must first be honest with ourselves. We must understand exactly who and what we are fighting for. We must be certain that our military has the right assets for the defense of our nation and its citizens. We must be certain that our military budget is well-spent. We must be certain that we are fighting for the ideals our nation was founded upon. We must be certain that we are fighting for personal freedom and liberty.

Not merely imposing our will on other people.

Saber Rattling In Congress.

Following reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, some in Congress are demanding that President Obama intervene. Even though the use of chemical weapons have not yet been confirmed, some are calling the president “weak” for his failure to respond.

Such knee jerk reactions by the war hawks already have been responsible for far too many wars and far too many deaths.

In 1964, the war hawks used false reports of a North Vietnamese attack on US naval ships to ramp up the war leading to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands. In 1983, the Reagan administration not only turned a blind eye to Iraqi use of chemical weapons against Iran, there are indications the US actually supplied the weapons. And, in 2003, the Bush/Cheney war hawks were in such a hurry to invade Iraq, they used false information to convince Congress to vote for a war that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands Iraqis and 4,486 US soldiers.

One would think that, after such obvious and lethal mistakes, our congressional war hawks and media would be much more reluctant to engage in saber rattling. After all, there are far more questions in Syria than answers. Were chemical weapons actually used? Who used them? What are the goals of those opposing Assad? What will happen to Syria if Assad is defeated, especially since it has been reported that the opposition includes factions of al Qaeda? Will the opposition welcome our military assistance? Will the new Syria become an ally?

What will Russia, a long-time ally of Assad’s, do if we choose to intervene in Syria? What will be the impact on the already flammable Middle East since Syria shares a border with Israel?

Given all of these questions, exactly how is the US to respond? Do we provide more sophisticated arms to the rebels, including al Qaeda? Do we create a no-fly zone that may lead to a far more serious confrontation with Russia, and may not even accomplish the goal of overthrowing Assad? Do we bomb military targets in Syria that will almost certainly antagonize Russia? Do we insert US troops on the ground in what could be a more lethal and lengthy war than Iraq?

According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, about 60 percent of US citizens interviewed oppose intervention in Syria.  It would seem that ordinary Americans have far more common sense than their saber-rattling congressional representatives.