To hear President Bush tell it, he’s kept the barbarians from storming the walls of the Homeland. To hear him tell it, he’s brought the bright, shining beacon of Democracy to more people than any one else in the history of the whole wide world. To hear President Bush tell it, we’re just a couple of days away from peace in the Middle East, we have shining new democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that pesky free-market thing will work itself out now that we’ve thrown a few hundred gorbozillion dollars at it. Oh, and by the way, he’s kept us safe from the terrorists.
It would be mildly amusing if it weren’t so darn dangerous.
Dangerous? Let me tell you how it is dangerous. If we don’t recognize our mistakes, we will learn nothing from them. If we learn nothing from our mistakes, we will repeat them. If we brand failures as successes, then somewhere down the road we are going to run smack dab and hard into the Great Big Wall of Reality.
Think President Bush’s foreign policy has been a success? Let’s take a look at that. President Bush called the operation to remove the Taliban from power and capture or kill Bin Laden a successful operation. Really? It was. At first. We kicked some Taliban butt. We kicked some Al Qaeda butt. Then, we sort of just let it all go.
Oh, we built schools and we held elections and we built a great big air base out there in the middle of the high plains. All noble actions. We forgot to get the Taliban and Al Qaeda to surrender, though. We forgot to hound them until they gave up or were dead. We gave them a free pass while we went off to avenge Daddy Bush in Iraq. Kind of ironic, considering Daddy Bush and most of his coterie of advisors were recommending avoiding invading Iraq.
So now we’ve got an Afghani warlord who is President of Afghanistan, whose extended family has its hands wrapped firmly around the drug trade, U.S. monetary assistance, and every kind of graft imaginable in and around the capital of Afghanistan and an outer province or two. We have a series of other Afghani warlords who control most of the rest of the country and we have the Taliban being welcomed by villagers because, though their brand of justice may be harsh, the Taliban do mete out justice that the villagers seek yet cannot get from the corrupt Karzai government.
Does anybody else get the eerie feeling that this is deja vu all over again? Isn’t this the same way the Taliban was able to come to power in Afghanistan the first time around? Yeah, I know the Taliban isn’t going to take over the country any time soon. Not with NATO and U.S. troops around to kick their butts all over again.
But, keep this in mind: if, as President Bush tells us, the Afghanistan operation was such a success, then why, seven years after we kicked their butts out of power, are the Taliban able to set up courts and collect taxes in Afghani villages? Why, seven years later, are some of the most brutal rulers ever to rule Afghanistan now being welcomed by villagers who see the Taliban as their only recourse to justice against the corrupt friends, family, and allies of the elected Afghani president? If President Bush led us to success seven years ago, then why do we now need to surge more troops to Afghanistan in order to beat the Taliban and Al Qaeda? Again. Didn’t we succeed the first time?
Nope. Because we went off to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein. We went off to create a great big honkin’ democracy in the middle of that region of the world best known for forming democracies. What a great big success. Saddam’s gone, hung for his crimes. The troop surge has stamped out most of the violence in Iraq. Elections have taken place and power is about to be handed over to an Iraqi government of the Iraqi people. Success, at last.
Really? Keep this in mind: a lot of the violence stopped because certain Shiite elements stopped battling U.S. troops. Granted, they were getting their butts kicked every time they tried to take on our troops, but that’s not the only reason for the stand down. More of the violence stopped because certain Sunni elements stopped siding with the foreign fighters of Al Qaeda and accepted U.S, dollars to keep the peace. Well, the Sunni elements are about to be integrated into the Iraqi security forces, dominated by the Shiites, but there is a catch. Only one out of every five Sunni fighters will be integrated. The rest will be pensioned in some way, or so say the Iraqi and U.S. leaders. How long will that last? Let’s ask some of our tribal allies in the Viet Nam war that question.
When the payments stop, there are going to be a lot of trained, and armed, Sunni men at loose ends, and many of them will bear grudges in a region of the world notorious for vengeance killings. Guess who the targets will be? Yup. Shiite militiamen.
Now, let’s get back to that unilateral Shiite stand down. The main Shiite militia leader who stood down militarily was Muqtada al-Sadr. He spent most of that time, if not all of that time, studying in Iraq’s Shiite neighbor and Saddam’s hated rival, Iran. Most of Iraq’s elected Shiite officials were exiles in Iran during Saddam’s reign of terror. Most of Iraq’s spiritual leaders on the Shiite side have spent significant time in Iran, both during Saddam’s reign and during the U.S. occupation. For the most part, what the spiritual leaders on both the Sunni and Shiite side of the aisle in Iraq say, will be carried out by the political leaders in Baghdad. Guess where the Shiite views are coming from.
That’s right. President Bush’s ringing success in bringing democracy to the Middle East resulted in delivering Iraq to the mullahs in Baghdad. He did what Ayatollah Khomeini dreamed of doing, but could not. The Shiite militias stood down because Iran realized, as did the American commanders on the ground, that the solution in Iraq was a political one, not a military one. President Bush sent over 4000 American men and women to their deaths in Iraq only to hand the country over to Iran. And he calls that a success.
Calling that a success just means we’ll be back again, because, without a doubt, Iran will push the boundaries that will eventually call for a military response from the United States.
That assumes, of course, that the United States can respond. You see, the President’s success has resulted in a military force that is strained to the breaking point. I’m not talking about the troops. They are the best the world has seen. I’m talking about equipment. I’m talking about weapons. I’m talking about jet fighters falling out of the sky because their frames are falling apart and they are still flying way past their expected expiration date. I’m talking about not having enough next generation fighters to replace the thirty year old jet fighters that are falling out of the sky.
We’ve been able to get away with it because we’re fighting foes without air forces. But, what happens when Communist China says enough is enough, and sends troops across the Taiwan straits to slap the Republic of China on Taiwan around? China has spent the last decade on newer and better jet fighters, bombers, and naval warships. China is very close to enjoying the conventional forces numerical superiority over the United States that the Soviet Union enjoyed in the late seventies. “So what?” you say. “We’ve got nukes” you say. “That stopped the Soviets dead in their tracks.” That it did.
Small problem. We don’t have near as many nukes as we did back then. The ones we do have are rapidly deteriorating in reliability and we have zero, ZERO, new capability coming on line. And we’ve had a brain drain in the nuclear weapons field, because our President has been so focused on succeeding against Saddam and the terrorists, so we won’t have any new capability coming online anytime soon. Guess who has been upgrading their nuclear forces? China. And Russia. And India. And Pakistan. Oh, and Great Britain and France.
So, if Communist China decides to waltz into Taiwan and slap it around, the United States may be able to do nothing more than watch, just like we did when Russia waltzed into Georgia for a dance or two.
While the President and his cronies are spinning Bush’s national security legacy, we may find ourselves being reminded that there are much worse dangers out there than Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. What a success story.