Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The War Drums Beat On

President Barack Obama was elected last November to bring change to America’s governing establishment and end our senseless foreign wars.

However, Clinton administration retreads populate the Obama administration through and through. There has been no scaling back of the intrusive and controversial government measures the Bush administration enacted such as the Patriot Act or FISA, no less spending, and no less transparency in government. Altogether, the scope of the Obama administration looks remarkably similar to the Bush administration.

The one area where it was suggested that there might be a change is the one area where we see the most consistency: foreign policy.

Despite all the best efforts of the Republican Party hacks and talk radio bobbleheads in 2008, Barack Obama is not an isolationist, not willing to “surrender” in the “War on Terror” and perfectly willing to use the American military with the same aloofness as his predecessor.

Take, for example, President Obama’s pledge to remove American combat troops from Iraq by August 2010. That pledge comes with a caveat: 50,000 are staying. This is not the same as American generals staying in Saigon until the Communists were breaking down the door. This is no residual force.

If as many as 50,000 American troops are staying in Iraq to train the local army and police forces, then they will inevitably be called upon to continue fighting all of the warring elements in Iraq. If post-2010 Iraq descends into rampant violence again, what is to stop President Obama from sending more American troops back to Iraq? By keeping one foot in the door, he leaves open the probability that he will have to bring the other one back in as well. It is not as though American troops are leaving the region.

And what exactly is the withdrawal plan for this “residual force” of 50,000 troops? If the plan is for the end of 2011, why keep such a large force there? If I was a cynical guy, I would say that just keeping them there re-opens the possibility that we could be in Iraq for 100 years. What then, would be the difference between President Obama’s plan with these 50,000 troops and John McCain’s plan that would keep some form of military presence in Iraq for 100 years if that’s what it took?

Now let us look at President Obama’s Afghanistan plan. In what could have been as many as 30,000 additional troops, the president settled on sending 17,000 to the graveyard of empires beginning sometime this month.

This plan calls for 17,000 troops, many of whom have already served in Iraq or were trained for duty in Iraq, only to shift them to a completely different theater. Afghanistan, a place probably worse than Iraq, is isolated and highly tribal, whereas Iraq was fairly centralized and comparably united. The military has already acknowledged that Iraq tactics which these soldiers were already trained for will be obsolete in Afghanistan due to the latter's hazardous terrain. Do we have time, in a war about to enter its 8th year, to wage a war by trial-and-error? What will be the reaction of the American people when hundreds of Americans are photographed in flag-draped coffins this year?

And how will the American people react when embattled Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who faces a difficult election this year, might be tempted to cut a deal with a rejuvenated Taliban that controls at least as much of Afghanistan as he does, in order to consolidate power? What will President Obama do then? How will they react when hundreds of young Americans lose their lives for a nation that no longer houses Osama bin Laden but are instead stuck in another inescapable nation-building venture?

If Secretary of War Robert Gates is correct and there is "no military solution for Afghanistan," then why is our military still in Afghanistan?

This does not even cover the drums that are beating for war with Iran. Everyday there is another "new revelation" about Iran’s capability to build the bomb. Everyday there is a new scare tactic employed by the government and the media to convince the American people that there is a nuclear bomb being secretly built in Iran with their name on it. Everyday we are told that our way of life could end in any instant, at the hands of a figurehead in Iran who has no control and barely any support in his own bankrupt country.

Couple all of that with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who as a presidential candidate threatened war on Iran over the security of Israel, is now saying that diplomacy is not likely to work on Iran. What does it mean when the nation’s top diplomat says diplomacy is not expected to work? It’s not that diplomacy might not work on Iran, it’s that it is not even being considered.

Did we really learn nothing from the Iraq debacle? How many "news reports" were we subjected to that Saddam Hussein was behind the anthrax attacks, the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the next nuclear attack?

Hussein at least had weapons of mass destruction in the past, which made the pre-war claims plausible. Ahmadinejad has no weapons, no military, and losing support in his own country. A mountain has been made that they have the capability to launch a satellite. And after all that happened in Iraq, shouldn’t at least an ounce of skepticism be permitted before marching off to war on the drop of a hat?

We have wars that won’t end in Afghanistan and Iraq, we have a war being prepared for in us in Iran, we are firing missiles into Pakistan supposedly intended for Osama bin Laden that kill as many civilians as suspected terrorists.

Considering all the military quagmires, all the negative capital around the world generated from our escapades, the military budget that contributes to the bankrupting of this country, and the fact that bin Laden is still at large, tell me this, what have our military excursions actually done for America?

And what of any of this makes President Obama antiwar?


TRUTH 101 said...

Can't even try to debate any of this with you Carl. Sorry Buddy. Your positions are well founded. I'll try on your next post to give you an argument.

Steel Phoenix said...

If you haven't noticed in the blogs we read, I can argue with anyone (not that I find much need here).

In Obama's defense, he has only been in office like a month and a half. He crammed that massive spending bill through too fast to even read it, but from here on, things will likely have to slow down a bit.

I never believed we would be out of Iraq. Once government gets its fingers on something, it never lets go. We will have enough troops there to pull the puppet strings for the foreseeable future.

He may also be using the troops as leverage for Iranian negotiations. He may even be afraid that if we leave, Iran will essentially take over. I don't mean invade so much as just infiltrate.

I'd be shocked if Russia hasn't already sold Iran some nukes. I think all the talk from both sides is just for show. Anyone admitting to their existence would only ignite the war.

I find it hard to believe that Obama would rule out diplomacy anywhere. I've worked with too many people with his management style. Diplomacy is his primary tool for everything he does.

Carl Wicklander said...


I'm sure I can come up with something to spark a debate between us! Thanks for reading. Until next time.


Carl Wicklander said...

Steel Phoenix,

Even if Russia has sold a bomb or two to Iran, I believe that would negate the problem. The narrative being crafted for us implies that if Iran built a bomb, they would set it off even before the paint was dry. In this country, Ahmadinejad is portrayed as a lunatic asylum escapee who would toss the bomb in Israel's direction at the first opportunity. Now let's assume your hunch is true - if they've gotten one for him, he hasn't done anything with it. And all of that assumes that the dirt-poor country of Iran could even afford it. Plus, Israel has a mighty potent arsenal and combine that with the liklihood that Netanyahu will be prime minister, and you'll have a regime in Iran that will think two or three times before doing anything with a bomb.

I never believed Obama's Iraq story. Maybe in his heart he's really against it, but he never voted against funding as a senator. He's staying the course and he's making Afghanistan his Iraq. Like with the economy, he's making Afghanistan his project. He seems intent on making that theater his quagmire.

And as far as diplomacy goes, he's got a huge war machine. He's not in favor of cutting anything, anything at all. His preliminary actions in Pakistan shows that he's already talking in bullets.

TRUTH 101 said...

I saw a bit of Ron Paul on DL Hughley's show tonight Carl. He had Hughley convinced.

At my old site I did a post on Ron paul as the Republican savior. In a sense, I think America was cheated out of a real debate by the Republicans when they chose McCain. But I guess Ron Paul spoke with too much clarity and sense. It's too bad that Paul is relegated to shows like Hughley's while Limbaugh and McCain get all the big time press.

Tom the Redhunter said...

"There has been no scaling back of the intrusive and controversial government measures the Bush administration enacted such as the Patriot Act or FISA, no less spending...

Awwwww... ain't that too bad.

Turns out Obama got hit with reality. Once he got into the Oval office and heard a few security briefings, he learned how dangerous the world really is. He learned just how many jihadists are out to get us and how bad they really are

Not like your leftist fantasies. I can see you're still living in a Code Pink world.

"Barack Obama is not an isolationist, not willing to “surrender” in the “War on Terror” and perfectly willing to use the American military with the same aloofness as his predecessor."

Interesting that you put War on Terror in quotations. You don't think it real, then? How delusional.

"Ahmadinejad has no weapons, no military...

Sigh. Can you really believe this drivel? Can you really believe that they are not working as hard as they can to develop nuclear weapons and missiles with which to deliver them?

Yes, their conventional forces are limited in capability. But all they have to do is shut off the Straits of Hormuz, or provide a credible threat to do so. Shipping will come to a halt and the price of oil will skyrocket.

"Now let us look at President Obama’s Afghanistan plan. In what could have been as many as 30,000 additional troops, the president settled on sending 17,000 to the graveyard of empires beginning sometime this month."

So you don't even want to win there, eh? These past several years most liberals insisted that they didn't want us in Iraq, but oh how they wanted to fight the real war in Afghanistan! Were you one of those? Oh that's right, you think the jihadist threat was invented by the Military-Industrial Complex.

"If Secretary of War Robert Gates is correct and there is "no military solution for Afghanistan," then why is our military still in Afghanistan?"

Sigh again.

I don't have time to explain to you counterinsurgency theory, but I'll tell you how you can educate yourself: Google for "Field Manual 3-24 US Army/Carine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual" I refer of course to the tome written by then Lt Gen Petraeus's staff and released in December of 2006. It provided the theory behind the surge that won the war in Iraq... much to your dismay, I'm sure.

Carl Wicklander said...


I felt that Ron Paul offered a real choice among Republicans - that's just one reason why I voted for him. Instead, they wanted a debate among the varying echoes of the same policies. In one of those endless debates, Paul chided McCain and Romney for arguing over nuances of a policy they both ostensibly agree with. He was a very different candidate, but the party rejected him outright.

Carl Wicklander said...


I am amused that you think I'm a liberal because of my war views. I guess you are unaware of the fact that I am pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, favor tax cuts across the board, favor eliminating several federal departments, and protecting the homeland via protecting our national borders. In fact, I find war to be the least conservative activity in the world. War is what does the most to upend and overthrow existing orders. War is what does the most to strengthen tyrannies, destroy families, and destroy economies. That is the exact antithesis of "conserving." But enough about that.

I am against the War on Terror as it is currently constructed because waging a war on terror is a misnomer. Terror is a tactic, it is the tactic of the weak. Declaring a war on terror would be like the British and French declaring a war on blitzkrieg in 1939. It misses the reason why terror is a tactic in the first place.

Terror is used by fanatical Muslims because terrorist leaders, Osama bin Laden, et al., oppose our foreign policy in the region. They oppose our alliances with Israel and the especially corrupt regime in Saudi Arabia. That certainly does not justify killing thousands of innocent civilians on 9/11, but that is the reason why they do it. It is not some inexplicable hatred of western-style liberalism that drives them to murder, but the effects that years of our foreign policy has had on certain Muslim countries.

American foreign policy has little impact on Americans, excluding the less than 1% of the population that serves in the military, but it has lots of impact around the world, naturally. We don't feel the effects, but common Muslims do when they see our government prop up corrupt Muslim regimes and defend Israel's policies which have devastated untold numbers of Muslim civilians.

As long as we ignore or dismiss the reasons for terrorism, this country will be caught in endless wars.

Now as far as exacting retribution for the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I fully support going after the real culprits, bin Laden and his coterie, but not nation building, not in Iraq or Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, as wretched as they were, did not have a hand in the terrorist attacks. We can't just march off to war against regimes that happen to be abusive.

And what do we win by installing democracies in countries that don't ask for them while bin Laden gets away?

Altogether, it is the our military empire which ultimately fuels Islamic hatred of America. Isn't it odd that we never had to face any sort of Muslim aggression before the 1950's? Before then, Muslim countries respected us, we never had Israel as an ally, we never got involved in Middle Eastern wars or politics, and we had not begun setting up bases in what is now over 130 countries. Can we just ignore those facts and assume that they hate us because we're free?

All of those factors lead to Islamic terrorism. We can always debate whether those are the right policies or not. What I oppose is terrorism and the factors that cause it. We should exact justice on the perpetrators of the heinous acts of terror and then remove the motivation of terror: we should withdraw from the region.

Nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan distracts us from the real goal.

If you would like some reading of your own, I would suggest any of the three books written by Dr. Michael Scheuer. Scheuer is, of course, a 20-year CIA veteran who was the head of the agency's bin Laden unit. He has clearly written that the driving force for Islamic terror is our presence in their region.

We have to recognize the reasons why terror happens. We can argue whether the policies are good or not, but we have to realize that they are the reasons. If we wish to influence events in Muslim countries, we will have to contend with terrorism. If we are going to keep the heavy presence and military empire in the Middle East, then we will have to face terror and insurgencies. If we want the terrorism to stop, we have to give up the empire. I realize it's a blow to the notion of America as the indispensable and invincible nation, but you can't have one without the other.

Carl Wicklander said...

One more thing. . .

Scheuer says that Osama bin Laden's objective with the terrorist attacks was to get the U.S. to invade an innocent country in Afghanistan, inflame hatred to the point that more terrorists get recruited by our act of aggression, and so an insurgency could slowly bleed our military to death there in much the same way it did, with help from us, to the Soviet occupiers.

By invading Iraq, we actually did bin Laden a favor. Saddam Hussein was, to bin Laden, a secularist and an enemy. Instead, we got bogged down with an insurgency in Iraq.

Bin Laden wanted to wreck the American economy by forcing us to commit to a long, unwinnable war that would take a massive financial toll on us, something that I am afraid has worked very well for him. By wrecking the economy, he knows that the American people will get weary and impatient and turn on the mission.

TRUTH 101 said...

Great point about terror being the weapon of the weak. It's the only weapon they have.