The men of US Special Operations Command are heroes. But are their deeds heroic?
Summary: The FM website discusses facts and insights too harsh for most to see (as seen in the 16 thousand comments during the past 4 years). Today we look at the men in the US Special Operations Command. Heroes, but not all the deeds we ask them to do are heroic.
In many ways our Special Operations forces are the best we have. Brave, talented, and dedicated. Sacrificing for the nation on a scale that nobody would do for just money. They are heroes. But that does not mean that DoD has them doing heroic tasks.
People are judged by what they do as much as who they are and why they serve. Especially so as foreigners look at the deeds of a superpower. That’s bad, since we increasingly use our Special Operations Forces as storm troopers and Gestapo-like enforcers of US foreign policy. Heavily armed teams bursting into peoples’ homes at night — not in bases, just poor villages — to kill and kidnap. Training our allies to use enhanced questioning techniques. Such dark deeds may be effective. It is often dangerous for our spec ops troops. But it is not heroic in any usual sense of the word.
The responsibility for their deeds lies on our hands, not theirs. We require our soldiers to obey a chain of command that extends up to elected officials at the top. Every two years we collectively acknowledge and take as our own the deeds done in our name.
We can loudly shout “hero hero hero” all day long to commemorate such deeds. That might even convince ourselves. It will not convince our allies, and our words will have no effect on the enemies made by each raid.
I suspect if continued long enough our spec ops forces will be seen as villains around the world. As the CIA is today in much of the world. As our drones are increasingly seen. Ultimately the US will be judged as much by the means used to enforce our policies as the policies themselves.
The better our troops get at breaking down doors, the worse it is for the US in those parts of the world.
The combination of tactical success and strategic failure is how Empires die. Unfortunately our Empire is both costly AND unprofitable. It’s an Empire of the mad.
For more information about our Special Forces
(a) Some early mentions of torture as a US export
Snippets from a large body of evidence:
- “Building a better thumbscrew“, New Scientist, 19 July 1973
- Example of the hints (nothing more) that emerged into the public record from DoD: “Fact Sheet Concerning Training Manuals Containing Materials Inconsistent With U.S. Policy“, From the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense/Public Affairs Office”, 1992 — about documents from 1987-1992
(b) On the FM website about Spec Ops Forces
- “Night Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the ‘Black Jail’, and the Dogs of War in Afghanistan”, 30 January 2010
- Stratfor looks at “The Utility of Assassination”, 26 February 2010
- The biggest re-branding exercise in the history of the world, 21 August 2010 — A new image for America.
- Important: Mercs spread special ops methods to corporations and (eventually) our enemies, 17 September 2010
- Killing the leaders of our enemy. Is this the fast track to victory – or disaster?, 25 October 2010
- About the strategic significance of bin Laden’s execution, and the road not taken, 5 May 2011