Saturday, February 16, 2013

Thoughtfully Ending George W's Unthought-out Wars


There are wars that need to be fought.  There are wars that shouldn’t even be considered.  In between are wars, whose purpose lurks somewhere between hype and compelling, in which defining when one has won, appear as elusive as its purpose.   Since WWII, which meets the first criteria, all of America’s wars have met the second criteria.   With incredible loss of life and treasure, the U.S. went to war only to stop the fall of dominoes of our preferred economic system from falling towards an adversarial economic system.   The first of those wars ends with the establishment of the 38th Parallel between two sovereign nations, who are technically still in a state of war, and the one not friendly to America, having nukes.  Another war in a nation the size of New England, which ends with the U.S. in full retreat, highlighted by Americans pushing perfectly good recently arrived helicopter off of carrier flight decks to make room for other incoming helicopters desperately evacuating Americans as the Viet Cong victors occupy Saigon.
George W.  Bush, and his neocon handlers, having lived through this sordid war history, did not learn from that history.  Not only did Bush seek out a new impossible war to prosecute, but his administration faked the intelligence to get Congress, the American people, and the world to go along with him with his Iraqi war.  Having already started the Afghanistan war, Bush abruptly drained the resources of this war, which was considered a just response to 9/11, to prosecute the fake war in Iraq.  This time, the feared falling dominoes were that of friendly oil countries falling and turning into unfriendly oil countries.   He later dismissed the need to find and bring to justice the persons responsible for 9/11, Osama Bin Laden and his organization, Al-Qaida.
The question of Obama being the same, or worst, than Bush is clearly answered.  President Obama hasn’t sought any new wars.  In fact, he avoided troop, and even pilot involvements in both Libya and Syria.  President Obama, missed opportunities for more aggressive troop draw downs in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  But, perhaps the logistics and/or political will to end wars appear to be much more difficult to divine than that needed to start wars.  I feel we should cut our losses in Afghanistan and pull all of our troops.
President Obama, having inherited both of Bush’s wars, spent his presidency getting us out of one war and winding down our involvement in the other.  His presidency has resulted in finding and the taking out Bin Laden, and the severe crippling of Al-Qaida.  But, did Bin Laden’s death, or the diminution of Al-Qaida, mean we won the war on terrorism?    
What of the war on terrorism?  Is it hype?  Or is Al-Qaida’s declared war on modernity and those they feel export it, a compelling threat to U.S. national security?  If so, the question becomes, how you prosecute such a nebulous war.  Put boots on the ground?  Invade Pakistan, Yemen, etc with troops?  Pay Pakistan, Yemen, etc to eradicate the threat?  Or continue Bush’s use of unmanned drones, to perform surgical targeted killing of terrorist, with as little collateral losses and damage as possible.  If so, when do we stop?  When do we know we’ve won the war?  Has the use of drones mitigated terrorist attacks on the U.S.?  If the answers to these questions are unknowable, it might be time to call in the drones, until Congress, the Executive branch, and the military write rules of engagement consistent with our and international laws, and values.  
These are hard questions that are, no doubt, under careful consideration by President Obama, but would only warranting a neocon kneejerk reaction, and a deepening quagmire under President Bush.  Obama same as Bush?  In Bush's dreams.

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