The majority of Americans now believe that airstrikes alone will not destroy the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq and that, therefore, American boots will be needed on the ground. It is a dehumanizing way of saying with absolute certainty that more American blood must be sacrificed: more combat for our troops, greater debts for our children, zero consideration for another solution.
I have an alternative: America does nothing — not one thing — until the sand has settled and jihadists have largely killed each other off.
Why waste American lives in a tribal war where the combatants crucify enemies and behead innocents — a war whose outcome we cannot determine, a war where hatreds between Shia and Sunni religious sects dates back to the Prophet Muhammad?
Washington fails to realize that the Middle East is one giant tar baby. The more America tries to civilize it, Westernize it and democratize it, the more muddied up we become and the more radical Iraq becomes. Each passing month jihadists become more desperate, more barbaric and more like their ancestors of the Middle Ages.
Yet Washington remains along with a good portion of the American public backing it willing to sacrifice more of our youth to combat tribal Muslims fighting to the death in Iraq.
The outcome of which can only be an even greater hatred of the United States and more terrorists willing to murder Americans at home and abroad.
The Bush and Obama doctrines
Again, our government acts blissfully ignorant, clinging as a religious zealot would to the idea of American manifest destiny — that America has a God-given right to make the world in its own image. In this way, U.S. neocons are not so different from the enemy jihadists. Both are utterly convinced they know the correct path, and both are willing to kill in cold blood to reach their goals.
As for what the world wants, what Europe wants, the neocons couldn’t care less. The wording may be crude, but many in our government still believe what George W. Bush said on Sept. 21, 2001: “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”
This is not the America I grew up in. This is not the country that created the grand alliance to defeat fascism in World War II. But this is an America drunk with power and determined to shape the world anyway its leaders see fit.
So it is not a surprise that after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan many in Washington continue to believe America is on a mission. This makes them almost as deluded as the enemy we fight.
The neocons’ conviction of America’s manifest destiny is not new. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Dutch and British empires all believed the same thing and collapsed under the weight of that false premise. In a century from now, the Chinese Empire will likely implode under it as well.
Washington’s manifest destiny is an outgrowth of the 19th century determination that America must expand west. Today, the globalists in government are married to that axiom on a global scale.
Why object to another Iraq occupation if Vietnam was never really lost?
But the neocons don’t seem to read history. And if they did, they would argue that in the 21st century, America has a special right — even an obligation, they might say — to shape the Middle East regardless of the costs in blood and treasure, just as long as it is not their families’ blood or treasure.
So for people like Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), America has never lost a war. But once or twice, the time clock ran out.
On July 4, 2008, Salon ran an article titled “What John McCain didn’t learn in Vietnam,” stating:
In 1998, he spoke on the 30th anniversary of the Tet Offensive. “Like a lot of Vietnam veterans, I believed and still believe that the war was winnable,” he said. “I do not believe that it was winnable at an acceptable cost in the short or probably even the long term using the strategy of attrition which we employed there to such tragic results. I do believe that had we taken the war to the North and made full, consistent use of air power in the North, we ultimately would have prevailed.” Five years later, he said much the same thing to the Council on Foreign Relations. “We lost in Vietnam because we lost the will to fight, because we did not understand the nature of the war we were fighting, and because we limited the tools at our disposal.”
You almost get the feeling that America’s Cold War warriors or today’s neocons only care about the win-loss column, not the greater good of the nation and certainly not that of the world.
What positive end would have resulted from a huge escalation in North Vietnam with a saturated bombing program and perhaps even a Normandy-like invasion, Senator McCain? Such a victory, if you could even call it that, might have cost another $1 trillion and the loss of an additional 50,000 American lives.
That Vietnam is now a stable country sharing a common language and heritage and is a productive trading partner with the United States is no ointment for McCain’s emotional war wounds. Thus, we have a senior U.S. senator who is willing to occupy Iraq for 100 years, as he told CNN during the presidential election of 2008. Imagine the audacity. Americans were once liberators. America liberated France. The Nazis occupied it. And most of all history is never kind to occupying nations, from the Romans to the Germans. Then again, who in our government bothers to read history?
America’s God-given right to shape the world in America’s image didn’t work in Vietnam; and after more than a decade, it is not working in Iraq. Sending more young troops back to die and or be irreparably harmed in the occupation of Iraq only weakens America, an America that was once the standard bearer of hope and decency in the world.
Today, we have become just another collapsing, desperate empire like the collapsing Romans were two millennia ago.
Yet the American public seems willing to buy any war that comes along. Last week, The Wall Street Journal ran the headline “Boots on the Ground: Poll Shows Americans Ready to Respond,” in a story reporting:
The latest WSJ/NBC/Annenberg survey of registered voters found that Islamic State has succeeded in persuading a war-weary nation that American troops on the ground should be used if that is what is required to defeat the militant group.
This is a startling finding in light of the fact that Americans have expressed their preference for fewer entanglements and less involvement abroad. And yet, a clear plurality (45%) of Americans believe that America should be willing to use its ground forces to respond to the threat from Islamic State. One in five Americans remain uncertain as to the best path to follow, and 37% oppose using U.S. military forces on the ground.
What should be added into the poll is would you support boots back on the ground in Iraq after 10 years of failure if you knew one of your sons or daughters would be drafted for service to fight in that desolate desert? Also, would you be willing to pay an additional $2,000 flat tax per year to support America’s renewed occupation? I think the answer would be a resounding no.
Millions of Americans think: “What’s another war? ISIS is a worry. Why not just wipe them out of existence?”
That’s all too easy to want but not so easy to implement for the men and women who have to do it.
Want to support the troops? Then keep them out of Iraq
For leaders like McCain, what’s another $1 trillion or $2 trillion of debt and another 5,000 dead Americans? And if you rail against this, you are not supporting the troops. Supporting our troops is not putting them in harm’s way without a legitimate reason and without an overriding mission or mandate. To send our troops as peacekeepers to Iraq, where all sides will target them, is not my idea of supporting the troops.
We do not support our troops beyond the slogans. We provide delayed medical treatments upon their return from active duty, and we don’t even find them a job. Tough luck for them if the Iraq war leaves them physically and emotionally crippled, as well as financially broke. Then again, millions of patriots will give a buck or two and put a second yellow ribbon on the back bumper of the family sedan just so they can show off how patriotic they are in supporting the troops.
I am neither a peacenik nor a pacifist. I believe America must protect itself from any clear and imminent danger. But ISIS is neither a clear nor imminent danger to the homeland. And by killing more Muslims, we only create more radicals bent on attacking Americans.
While millions of Americans would not object to another Iraq occupation (perhaps one that could within a couple of years bring 100,000 troops into combat), the people who would have to carry out that mission — our military men and women — do not want it. Seven out of 10 of the more than 2,200 active-duty respondents to this year’s Military Times Poll oppose the idea of sending substantial U.S. ground forces back into Iraq to battle the Islamic State and their enemies and allies. Furthermore, during the past four years, the percentage of active-duty troops who believe the first U.S. war in Iraq was a success has declined significantly.
“It’s kind of futile in the end — regardless of how well we do our job, the Iraqi government isn’t going to be able to hold up,” Marine 2nd Lt. Christopher Fox told Military Times.
From the War of 1812 to the Cuban missile crisis, it has always been the military making the call to arms. Today, it is the neocons and their Wall Street partners that control a vast propaganda apparatus, including all major media outlets. All of them are barking like dogs of war.
It makes one wonder: Are we waging war to grow democracy or are we waging war to grow the stock prices of companies like General Dynamics (GD, NYSE, $123.54)? This defense contractor’s stock price has more than doubled since the first occupation of Iraq, despite the stock market crash of 2008.
Yours in good times and bad,