Military Generals and Globalism
By B.B. Bell
(Editor’s Note: Gen. Bell (USA-Ret.) serves on the board of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center with Mark Alexander, and he is a member of The Patriot Post’s National Advisory Committee.)
Lately I’ve seen a fair amount of criticism of the President’s National Security Strategy by retired generals and admirals. Let me throw in my two cents worth.
First, I know a little something about generals and admirals. I was one of them for 13 of my 39 years of active military service. Indeed, I personally know most of the ones who are currently expressing themselves regarding Presidential leadership.
For starters, please understand that since World War II America has pretty much been at war — continuously. There have been at least 25 wars in which we’ve participated since WWII. Call them what you will, but to a young sergeant, war is war. Some of these wars have been repeats so the real number approaches 30. Many are so-called “small” conflicts — again tell that to a young sergeant under fire — but several have been major including Korea, Vietnam, the 1st Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. If you add CIA operations where the military has been surreptitiously involved, the total number is closer to 40. In just over 70 years we’ve been actively engaged in up to 40 overseas wars where American service members have been engaged and American wealth has been expended.
That’s more than one war every two years. Do we really have that many enemies? What’s going on here? And, the cost of these wars has been in multiples of trillions of dollars — dollars that might otherwise have been put into better future military readiness, infrastructure, lower taxes, social programs, or into a balanced budget.
In short, near continuous wars have been maiming and killing our youth and draining our wealth pretty much continuously since World War II. For all this, today we have an indescribable $21 trillion national debt. And Americans are riding into space on Russian rockets and returning to earth in Kazakhstan — Kazakhstan! We’ve sure come a long way since being able to land astronauts on the moon in 1969 and bringing space shuttles home to landings at Cape Kennedy. Meanwhile we have military missions in over 70 countries worldwide. That’s over a third of all the countries on Earth.
In all this one thing is 100 percent for sure — all of our senior military leaders, including me, were “born and raised” with a deployed expeditionary conflict mindset where America as the world’s “policeman” was the right thing to do. We were all nurtured in the globalist belief that in the post WWII era it was America’s responsibility and indeed duty to police the planet and make everything safe for democracy.
For example, I spent 14 years deployed overseas, 10 of those as a general. Out there I was “born and raised” to go forth and present America as the global policeman. And, I did my job. Looking back, all this resembles what the Roman generals were taught to do by the Roman Empire. Go out into the vast empire and establish Roman rule and law, make friends and allies, and where you run into issues bring military force to bear to solve the problem. That’s what the Romans did and we’ve been doing pretty much the same thing for the last 70-plus years.
When a retired general or admiral argues that President Trump is an inward looking nationalist and is turning away from our valued international friends and allies, these military leaders do so from the perspective of globalists. That’s who they are and what they know. They have international colleagues and they are invested in the theory that by bringing influence and military power to bear worldwide (just like their Roman predecessors) our so-called global “friends” will help us police the world. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But, after all the money and blood, has it worked? Does it work?
When President Trump says that this globalist strategy is actually bankrupting America while killing and maiming our youth, many of the retired generals and admirals are repulsed because most are invested in an expeditionary globalist mentality. Trump just doesn’t understand, they say. My sense is that President Trump understands much more than we are willing to admit.
It’s time for America to rethink our globalist military strategy. While we do have some crucial allies that we must stick with, we need to have an America first nationalist reawakening, bring many of our troops home (What are we doing in Syria? Good grief!), and reinvest in our country while building military readiness for the future. We’ve got to stop bleeding our youth and bankrupting our budget.
Last, don’t believe everything the retired generals and admirals tell you. Indeed they are great patriots; but, they all have their own agendas. And don’t forget that Lincoln properly fired McClellan and Truman properly fired MacArthur, both generals who the public initially thought could do no wrong. And, of course, Obama removed General Mattis from CENTCOM, and fired Generals McKiernan and McChrystal from their commands in Afghanistan.
Presidents hire and fire senior military leaders. It’s the way things work in our democracy. President Trump can and should do the same thing when his generals and admirals do not align with his strategic perspectives. Americans elected President Trump to serve as our commander-in-chief. They didn’t vote for some howling retired general who was fired by a previous President.