A FAILURE OF AMERICAN COMPETENCY
By Alan Caruba
At the heart of the 2006 congressional elections was the voters' conclusion that, given America’s famed managerial and military skills, what had occurred in Iraq was a failure of competency at the highest levels in the United States government. The blame cannot be placed on our soldiers, airmen, and Marines. It was not a failure of the valor of our fighting forces.
It is now widely understood that the White House and Pentagon failed to provide either sufficient manpower or planning for the postwar period.
Following the 9-11 Islamist terrorist attacks on the U.S.A., having rapidly rid Afghanistan of the Taliban by employing the forces of local warlords, combined with U.S. air power, the White House became fixated on ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein without the necessary planning for the aftermath of achievement of that goal. Books such as Fiasco by Thomas Ricks and State of Denial by Bob Woodward reveal a gross lack of competency at the highest levels in the U.S. national government, a lack that is appalling.
It’s a remake of John F. Kennedy’s “best and the brightest” advisors who never understood the enemy they took on in Vietnam and repeated by Georgw W. Bush’s Neocons, who probably had even less insight into America's enemies in the Middle East. The Neocoms blithely expected other nations to unite in “a war on terror.” Like the 1930s, however, appeasement was and is the order of the day.
The failure was made even more manifest in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when nothing could hide the astonishing incompetence of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which, along with state and local authorities, failed to respond effectively. The citizens of New Orleans, who played their own role in the disaster, recently re-elected William Jefferson, a Congressman under investigation for bribery. Their failure to maintain and improve the levees played a significant role in the disaster.
It did not go unnoticed that FEMA had been one of many federal agencies folded into the newly created Department of Homeland Security. The Immigration and Naturalization agency, too, had been added to the DHS organizational chart. Neither the Immigration and Naturalization Servive before 9-11 nor the Department of Homeland Security since the terrorist attacks has received sufficient funding to stop America’s potential enemies at the borders. Plans to strengthen our borders remain in limbo.
At issue is competency in a government that Americans have been taught to believe was ready to take care of every problem and every need they had. Since the days of Barry Goldwater, Conservatives have striven to advance their fundamental belief in a smaller central government, more reliance on the role of the states, and fiscal responsibility.
After President George W. Bush took the reins of government, the very opposite of the success initiated during the Reagan years of the 1980’s -- and the subsequent 1994 transfer of power to a newly elected Republican majority in Congress -- occurred. Conservatives looked on in dismay and slowly began to raise their voices in protest. Centrist voters heard them and Bush is now a very lame duck President.
Billions of U.S. dollars have been expended on the Iraq war and its aftermath. We are closing in on more than 3,000 casualties, in addition to thousands of wounded and maimed servicemen and servicewomen.
Unheeded in the initial and subsequent calculations was the ancient and endemic corruption that has existed for centuries throughout the Middle East. It has proven as powerful as bombs and bullets.
A retreat from Iraq, however, will further embolden the forces of radical Islam that have been on the march since the late 1970s. The Islamists want to control the whole of the Middle East, and then the world beyond. This would be their goal whether the U.S.A. had invaded Iraq or not.
Congress must decide whether America needs a larger military, and, on that decision, hinges much of the future at home and abroad. Providing the leadership and, by far, the greater portion of the resources in the fight to defend Western Civilization against the forces of Islamic barbarism is an obligation that America must assume, because few other nations can or will assume this obligation.
The military we have is a superb fighting machine, but, as General John Abizaid recently told an audience at Harvard, “This is not an Army that was built to sustain a long war.”
If the Neocons knew that, they ignored it.
Our population of 300 million people has 60 million between the ages of 18 and 35, more than enough to expand the current force, if Congress would authorize the expansion to 70 brigades from our current 52. Constantly drawing down on National Guard and Reserve units is a bad idea.
War is always a serious enterprise. Americans need to take it more seriously.
American Government & the U.S. Presidency
The American Political System:
Politics & Government in the U.S.A.
The Middle East & the Problem of Iraq
Page Two Page One
The Problem of Rogue States:
Iraq as a Case History
National Strategy for Victory in Iraq
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three Page Two Page One
International Politics & World Disorder:
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security
U.S. National Security Strategy
Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, a Public Relations Counselor, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center, which is located at www.anxietycenter.com.
Caruba’s new book, Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy, has been published by Merril Press.
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