Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Teeny, Tiny Wars
By Alan Caruba
On the same day that the U.S. had blown up a building on Gadaffi’s compound in Tripoli, the news out of Iraq was as follows:
Baghdad (3/21/2011) – Aswat al-Iraq: Iraqi Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki considered on Monday Iraq as one of the most stable countries in the region. Addressing a gathering attending the third agricultural week in Baghdad, the premier said, “Iraq became one of the most stable countries in the region after a period of violence and divisions.” He urged ministers to speed up solving all problems and improving services to Iraqis. Demonstrations sweep a number of Arab countries, mainly Libya, Syria and Yemen, calling for toppling regimes and achieving political reforms.
THANK YOU, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!
How ironic is it that a war that many Americans now regard as a mistake is, from the Iraqi point of view, one that has led to an era of stability?
Military observers and historians regard wars differently than civilians. The terms they use are “high intensity” and “low intensity.” As Sean Linnane, editor of the Stormbringer blog notes, “In the eight years of Iraq, we lost just as many people as we lost in a single day at Normandy. By the same standards, Vietnam was a low-intensity conflict. We lost just under fifty thousand over ten years, whereas we lost that many in three years in Korea and in three days at Gettysburg.”
Linnane explains how the technology of modern war has changed the way it must be understood. “An infantryman with a shoulder-fired weapon negates a 55-ton tank.” Such weaponry allowed Stone Age mujahideen in Afghanistan to defeat the Soviet Union.
“While at the same time,” Linnane correctly points out, “the amplifying effect of the modern media allow tiny symbolic conflicts to gain great meaning.”
I am beginning to think that any action or no action that President Obama took would have satisfied anyone because we Americans feel it is our constitutional right to criticize the President and it is!
Obama has been getting a crash course in foreign affairs for two years. Before taking office, he was your average intellectual airhead, full of theories and Marxist dialectics, and having no clue what the job required. By contrast, George W. Bush had grown up around the office his whole life and, if you recall, his father had actually been President.
Surrounded by political advisers, generals from the Pentagon, so-called national security people, State Department folks from Foggy Bottom, and other interested, partisan parties, Obama has had to learn how to become “the decider” like Bush43. For Obama who has basically voted “present” in public life, that has neither been easy nor welcome.
What Obama discovered was that, if he just did what Bush had done for the eight previous years, it would probably be the wisest course of action. So Guantanamo is still open for business and Obama even increased U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The withdrawal schedule for Iraq was already in place when he arrived in the Oval Office, so he cannot take credit for that.
There’s a really good reason for pulling our troops out of both Afghanistan and Iraq and, if possible, sooner rather than later. A lot of them have been rotated in and out of both locations so many times they are just bone tired and thoroughly disgusted with the people for whom they have been trying to provide a shot at freedom, democracy, or whatever passes for life without some dictator or Islamic fanatic trying to kill them.
In a very real way, both Bush’s set in motion the Middle East tumult by demonstrating that dictators can, indeed, be overthrown. The Arab street may say it hates America, but it looks to it to come swooping in to defend and save them.
For many years to come, the whole of the Muslim countries stretching across northern Africa and the Middle East are going to be a working definition of bedlam. To name a few, in addition to the recent demands for less repression in Egypt and Tunisia, plus the present unpleasantness in Libya, the following nations are seeing similar popular discontent—Bahrain, Yemen, the Sudan, and Somalia.
In trouble to a greater or lesser degree, there’s Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco, Pakistan, and the hate-filled denizens of the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Poor Lebanon has labored under the fist of Syria and now Hezbollah.
By comparison, Israel is an island of peace as is Qatar, and, dare we say it, IRAQ!
All of which means a succession of teeny, tiny wars over the years ahead, some of which the U.S. will choose to engage to a larger or small extent. We will not let any ill befall Saudi Arabia because it has a lot of O-I-L. Other oil states will likewise get varying levels of protection. Gadaffi was denied this because of his history of crimes against the U.S.
Americans will, as they always have, hate having to engage in any of these predictable conflicts, but we shall, even if it means that this president and future ones will have to do a two-step around the Constitution and War Powers Act. The dirty secret in Washington, D.C. is that no Congress since World War Two (1941) has actually declared war because they are essentially political cowards who don’t want the blame if anything goes wrong as in Vietnam.
If the U.S. wasn’t totally broke and totally unwilling to cut taxes and spending, we might actually be able to afford some greater effort to help keep the world safe, but for now, we shall have to stick to Tomahawk missiles and other such devices to inform our enemies that we want them dead.
Did I mention that Iraq is stable? No war going on there? A democratic regime in power? I can hear George W. Bush laughing all the way from Houston.
© Alan Caruba, 2011