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View Diary: Some Short thougths on Tom Clancy's Passing (63 comments)

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  •  Tom Clancy's Dark Legacy (26+ / 0-)

    I was surprised to hear he was only 66.  RIP.

    Needless to say, I wasn't a big fan of his due to his outspoken right wing political agenda.  He did a lot of damage by cementing some untruths in the American popular imagination.

    First of course was the idea that "Reagan won the Cold War."  Leaving aside whether anyone really "won" anything through that multidecade impasse, most historians would conclude the Soviet Union disintegrated for the simple reason that the system didn't work.

    Clancy, however, was one of those flacking the notion that the "Reagan Build-up" basically spent the Soviets into submission.  Of course this version of history was beloved of defense contractors and their Congressional enablers.  If it was true, the PRC would have surrendered twenty years ago instead of being poised to overtake the US as the world's largest economy.  Clancy's ideology on this point was woven into his books, which never missed a chance to display the specifics of the latest high tech gadgetry.

    Which brings us to the second point, how the fruits of the US defense industry, the techno-gadgetry, occupied an honored place in many of his novels as almost a pseudo-hero in and of itself.  

    It isn't news that, starting with the US Civil War, the US developed a military doctrine and tradition based on massive deployment of firepower - firepower made possible due to our wealth and relative industrial advancement.  German generals in WW2 bemoaned how they felt helpless when pitted against the "rich man's war" fought by the USA, where we would fire ten artillery shells to their one.

    What Clancy never seemed to grasp, and what was evident as early as the Korean War of 1950-1953, was how the USA's wealth and technological advantages could not in and of themselves substitute for wise policy.    Vietnam was the classic example of course, where we spent billions fighting a semi-peasant force that ultimately outlasted us due to the weakness of the regime we were attempting to prop up.  The US could have saved a lot of blood and treasure if it had foregone the military display and talked to Ho Chi Minh in the 1950's.  Instead, due to the Red Scare mentality, Domino Theory and all the rest, we got locked into a scenario where all our wealth and well-equipped military meant little.  This asymetry recurred again in Iraq, where we went in with grandiose plans, spent billions, lost thousands of lives and killed hundreds of thousand, and succeeded in leaving a "friendly" country that would not even agree to host our bases anymore.

    Clancy helped perpetuate these myths and misunderstandings through an entire generation.

    "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

    by FDRDemocrat on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 01:57:15 PM PDT

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