Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Americans in the Middle East
When George Bush reacted to the September 11th attack, there was something refreshingly simple about his approach. Everyone knew the Middle East was a cauldron, a riddle within a riddle, a miasma, but he took the Alexander the Great approach: Just cut through that Gordian knot with a swift stroke of the sword and let the pieces fall where they may.
For George Bush, it didn't matter we really did not know who attacked us on 9/11; he just wanted to kick someone's ass. He chose Saddam Hussein, because he was, as Bush put it a bad man, someone "who tried to kill my dad."
So that made it all very simple: Just roll our Army over Iraq.
Saddam replied, presciently, as it turns out, once you get rid of me, you'll have worse people to deal with. But Saddam imprisoned his enemies, tortured some, ruled his country with an Iron hand, so we did not like him. As it turns out the people now closing in on Baghdad do not torture prisoners because they do not take any; they just behead those they don't like, including women who have the nerve to venture outdoors un-escorted by a male relative or without a head covering. They are very unappetizing, these nasties from the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham. They are Sunnis and they don't like Shiites much, so they just behead them.
Talk about "bad" men. George, you had no idea how bad men can be. We had our own, Christian, bad men in the American Army and CIA, at the Al Ghrarib prison, but they were just sadists, not head choppers, as far as we know today.
From an American point of view, we have two choices: Become an Imperial power, taking John McCain's advice to simply conquer the region and install an army and keep it there, to enforce a Pax American for a few centuries--or... get the Hell out.
Fact is, Americans for all their manifest destiny history, really do not like being imperialists. We just want to live in our towns and cities and enjoy America. When Lyndon Johnson spoke on the phone to his good and trusted friend, Richard Russell (D-Georgia), Johnson asked Russell what he ought to do about Vietnam. Russell said, well, you know Lyndon, we don't want to stay in Vietnam. Yep, Johnson agreed. We want out. Well, Russell said, the Viet Cong know that, too.
All the Vietnamese or the Sunni radicals or the Afghans or the Pakistanis or the Somalis need to do is wait for the Americans to go away, and we inevitably will. Then the radicals can crawl out from under their rocks and get down to the business of conquering whatever unpopular, weak kneed government the Americans left behind.
So why did all those Marines die in Mosul? Same reason Marines died in the Mekong Delta and all over Vietnam: Stupid old men sitting behind polished desks in Washington needed to feel powerful and important.
President Obama was smart enough to see all this in Iraq, but he's been remarkably obtuse about Afghanistan, buying into the notion we needed to clean Afghanistan out so those terrorist sanctuaries would not give rise to crazies intent on launching the next 9/11. As if you can clean out one rats's nest and never have to worry about the rats finding a new home. Right now, the whole swath of land between Syria and Baghdad is one big terrorist sanctuary, not to mention Somalia, villages in Indonesia, Yemen, and Heaven only knows where--Berlin, London, Detroit, Toronto likely.
What would Mad Dog do?
1. Close Gitmo.
2. Keep ears open --yes even NSA ears--and keep those drones flying.
3. Close our bases in Germany, and anywhere we really do not need them.
4. Fly our SEALS and Delta Force guys in when we need to, but fight these head choppers with intelligence and stealth, not with large armies and big vehicles.
In short, treat these guys we are looking for not like enemy soldiers, but as crazed serial killers who have patterns and vulnerabilities and do our police work relentlessly. We will never kill them all, any more than you can kill every rat on earth. You can simply try to find them and kill them when you can, and resolve this is not a war, with an end point, but a continuous effort at public hygiene.
Posted by the phantom speaks at 7:19 PM