In the United States of America, PermaWar, war without end, is essentially locked in. It's the new reality.
America has transitioned from the Free World's defender to the Free World's enforcer. It has gone from deterrence to free fire geopolitics. It has crossed a very wide and deep Rubicon of its own making. As Andrew Bacevich convincingly argues, the old military-industrial complex has today morphed into the unstoppable military-neoconservative-Christian fundamentalist-industrial-commercial warfighting complex. PermaWar is the business of America.
Trump says a great many things but they're rubbish and, when cornered, he always proves it. When it comes to foreign policy and military affairs he couldn't find his ass with both hands. Besides, he's a thug and a bully, perfectly predisposed to perpetuating America's never-ending armed conflicts.
Hillary - she's a hawk. End. Of. Story. It's one thing when you're the only hawk in the tree. Today the tree has plenty of hawks and they're all eyeing each other and growing restless. The pigeons are petrified.
America and her allies are learning the hard lessons of what the academics call "new war" realities. Our militaries are still geared to "old war." When we go to distant lands it's with old war formations, armed with old war weaponry and old war tactics.
New War is the warfare of quagmire. Unlike the constrained and focused nature of Old War, New War is a free for all.
Old War was dominated by state actors, one group of nations' military forces versus an adversarial group of nations' military forces contesting identifiable objectives intended to lead to a restoration of some type of peace.
New War is a confusing, writhing nest of snakes. It blends state actors, quasi-state actors and an array of non-state actors ranging from rebels, to insurgents, to terrorists to ordinary, criminal gangs. Each brings to the party its own capabilities, its own agenda. Objectives, like alliances, can shift fairly quickly and often. Mutuality of interests can wax and wane among the players and it can vary from region to region.
How is an Old War force to cope with these shifting alliances, tactics and objectives? The answer is poorly. Look at Afghanistan where a numerically superior, vastly better trained and equipped, state of the art fighting force - All the King's Men and All the King's Horses - was unable to defeat a gaggle of illiterate farm boys armed with Korean War vintage light weapons. We had all the watches but they had all the time. The Soviets had their lesson. Decades later we did too.
Still we have to keep getting stuck in if only to keep our client states, the small nations we don't want defecting to the other side, in our camp. That means assuring them that we can be counted on when things go wrong in their neck of the world. In a way it's the West succumbing to the tail wagging the dog syndrome. Look at the places that has led us - Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya. How many of those are still in the "win" column?
Wouldn't it be so nice to imagine a peace even if only for a decade or so? Well, don't count on it. There's good reason to assume the West will still be banging away in the Muslim world during the lifespan of the next administration and the one after that to boot. Some even think there's a possible major power showdown looming.