COOLING OFF THE WAR FEVER
By Alan Caruba
President Harry S. Truman committed troops to Korea when the Communist North Koreans attempted to overrun South Korea. Yes, it’s been called a stalemate for a half century, but the South is a thriving economic power, while the North can barely supply itself with electric power or feed its people.
The Vietnam War is generally seen as a failure of American military power. What prolonged the war was the refusal of President Lyndon B. Johnson to listen to advice given him by his Joint Chiefs of Staff in a private meeting they had requested in November, 1965. One suspects that President George W. Bush has not been listening to his generals either.
An entire generation was mobilized in the 1970s against the Vietnam War and they are all older and grayer, but still emotionally against war as an instrumentality of the state. This remains an unrealistic position because, against a criminal and fanatical enemy, pacifists will die right along side those who would fight. Surely 9-11 is proof of that.
President Ronald W. Reagan used military force sparingly and effectively. He did not go to the United Nations to get its permission. He warned Libya and then bombed Libya. He sent troops to Grenada to insure it didn’t turn into a little Cuba. In eight years, he managed to build up our military strength, thus setting the stage for the Soviet implosion.
I spell out this brief history because I think a weary America is being purposefully whipped into yet another war frenzy and, in this case, it’s Iran.
After 9-11, we bought the cooperation of Afghan warlords and used our air power to achieve a quick, but transitory, victory over the Taliban and put al-Qa'ida on the run. They are back precisely because they do not fight war on our terms, with a massed army. Our military, arguably the best in the world, is still configured to fight a conventional war.
We went into Iraq twice! The first time we did not put Saddam Hussein out of business (he had invaded Kuwait), so we had to go back again to finish the job. Against the advice of the generals, the White House underestimated how many troops it would take. In November, 2006, a majority of the voters essentially said, “Time to leave.”
The proposed “surge” to clean out Baghdad is, in my opinion, a way of providing cover for the deployment of the bulk of American troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007 and to other missions. We will, in Nixonian terms, leave Iraq “with honor.” Others will call it a defeat, but we leave a nation minus one brutal dictator, with a constitution, and an elected government. Making that work is the responsibility of Iraqis.
What have occasioned my concern are Vice President Dick Cheney’s latest thoughts on Iran. He practically salivates at the thought of invading, in his view, to end Iran’s nuclear threat. The world, however, abounds in nuclear threats and has since the first A-bomb.
In that horrid region of the world, both Pakistan and India have nukes. The threat of their use has actually driven the two nations, longtime enemies, to open peace talks and move toward normalizing their relations. Other nations, of course, have nukes as well. There’s Israel, who probably owes its existence to having them. Elsewhere there’s the Russians, the Chinese, and even wretched little North Korea.
I suspect Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has over-played his cards at home and is scaring even the ayatollahs, who really run Iran. Inviting an actual attack would set back their Islamic Revolution and possibly even end it. Therefore, looking for an excuse to preemptively invade or attack Iran strikes me as a very bad idea. For now, some statesmanlike patience seems the wiser course.
This is not to say that the West does not face a very long battle with Islamism. The defeat of this fanatical belief that the entire world must submit to Islam must remain the order of the day, and the conflict will last decades.
Middle East specialist, Daniel Pipes, warns:
Barring an attack on the homeland, America needs to take a break from waging war, with its attendant casualties and costs.
We need to build up our active troop strength that was foolishly cut during the Clinton years.
We need to continue restructuring our intelligence agencies for greater coordination and expand our human intelligence gathering capabilities.
We need to debate the great issues of our time, as we prepare to vote for a new President in 2008.
Mostly, though, we need to resist a new war fever, a new call to arms, so that we can step back to determine what the next correct course of action should be.
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors
The Middle East & the Problem of Iraq
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The Problem of Rogue States:
Iraq as a Case History
National Strategy for Victory in Iraq
The Middle East & the Problem of Iran
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
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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. Military Defense & National Security
Military Weaponry & International 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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