Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The greatest strategic mistake in our nations history, redux
Todays report by the Iraq Study Group is causing a furor. I don't want to focus on the report itself, but the implication of the report.
On the Today show this morning, Al Gore said that this report and several others being conducted by the administration all point to the same conclusion. In the words of Mr. Gore:
This is an utter disaster. This is the worst strategy mistake in the history of the United StatesThe WORST. This war is a grand mistake. It is as if fate has decreed that the folly of discarding centuries of American tradition and practice in warfare must be proven. In choosing this particular war at this particular time President Bush has unleashed a veritable perfect storm. I'm certain he did not intend this but it was his decision, and his alone to make. He chose to fight a war that was not necessary and launched the greatest strategic blunder in American history.
What makes this the greatest blunder you may ask? The nature of the emergency faced by the nation prior to the self inflicted wound in Iraq. We are involved in a great struggle. Our generation faced the greatest attack from foreign lands on American soil. We suffered the greatest act of mass casualty terrorism ever experienced by a nation ostensibly at peace. Let there be no mistake on this. The threat is real. The danger is present and we have to be intelligent and purposeful in our response to that threat.
This President launched an invasion of a nation that was not involved in that struggle, but which when occupied could be counted upon to become a central front, and a meat grinder in that war. The nearest example in contemporary historical terms is the German invasion of Russia in WWII. To be certain, the scope of the disaster and misjudgement on the part of the Germans is greater. I would feel confident in placing that invasion as the greatest strategic blunder in World history. What Bush did is only the greatest in American history. But the core analogy between these two invasions remains.
So we opened a new front in the war on terror against a nation that did not threaten us, at the expense of our effort in, what to that time was, the real war on terror being conducted in Afghanistan. In effect the administration decided to even old scores with an old enemy, and used this nations military to settle a family feud between the Bush's and Saddam. They did so based upon deceit and using the platform of the greatest attack on American soil as a launching pad. They did so at the expense of unprecedented international and domestic goodwill (so desperately needed in this particular struggle) for our cause following the attacks of 9/11.
In summation, at the time that America was threatened by a lethal enemy our President chose a needless war that has lead to the explosive growth in numbers of our enemy, the loss of our international standing, the bleeding of our blood and treasure, and a partisan divide on the homefront. This war has indeed been the greatest strategic blunder in the history of the United States of America.
Here's the solution I propose. Withdraw our forces from Iraq, keeping a rapid response force in area in order to respond to any possible emerging terrorists threats that follow our redeployment. Move about 50,000 more troops into Afghanistan and prepare for a long drawn out struggle in that nation. Afghanistan is positively crucial, and recent developments in that war are alarming. Our cause in Afghanistan is just, and we have international support in that war. I'm afraid that due to our misadventure in Iraq the war in Afghanistan is going to be protracted and bloody beyond what was originally necessary. In my book it is Afghanistan that must be the central front in the war on terror, and that is the war that we must gear America to do what it takes to win.
One final note: The Iraq group is spot on in drawing particular attention to the need to solve the Israeli/Palestinian issue once and for all. This issue is at the root of nearly all of Americas troubles in that region. To be sure there are many other issues on the local level in the region that need to be solved, but the urgency of the Israeli/Palestinian problem can not be over stated.
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