Like most, I was shocked by the latest news from the Middle East. I only have access to the news produced in America, for American consumption. This single data source comes with different flavors, basically doves and hawks, armchair generals painting a picture from the comfort of their talk show armchairs. They paint an M.C. Escher landscape, explaining that they hate us because we are free, they are mystified that the Iraqi’s are not grateful for our destruction of their society, and each new terrorist group is more extreme than the last.
Republicans claim we had won, that the Democrats threw it all away. Same claim we got about Vietnam, from the same political parties. We hear that we must stop the terrorist in Bagdad or we will have to fight them in New York. We had to stop the communist in Vietnam or fight them in San Francisco. If the communist won in Vietnam the dominos would fall for the entire Asian continent. If the terrorist win in Bagdad the dominos fall for the entire Middle East. We trained the South Vietcong soldiers to defend their own country, we trained the Iraqis’ to defend their own country. “We will stand down when they stand up.” President Reagan’s “Freedom Fighters” became President Bush’s Al Qaeda’s terrorist.
If this is not an M.C. Escher painting, it is a “Ground Hog day” movie.
Some of our political elites have used the War on Terror to fuel a personal domestic win. The majority of our political elites have no idea what is happening, they do find the story politically playable. Over the last 15 to 20 years the Middle East has moved from stable secular Dictators to democratically elected leaders of a religious war. America has used its hard power to hasten this social shift, we supported one group over the other, and then we reversed our support. Yesterday’s allies became today’s adversaries, only to be changed tomorrow. This attempt to not choose a side in the religious war has only made all Middle East sides feel we are against them.
American political elites had predicted Jeffersonian democracy populated with grateful citizens eternally supporting America, instead, our military adventures against the various Middle East Dictators created the religious strife and divisions resulting in today’s turmoil.
Our Global War on Terror is an international military campaign against a poorly defined adversary with no definition of winning. A never ending Forever War against Islamic Terrorism, since the official start on 20th September, 2001, there has been a parade of increasingly more fanatical organizations, with ever larger membership.
Am I the only one that thinks we have something fundamentally wrong? Since 9/11 the estimated cost of our War on Terror ranges from $3 to $5 trillion dollars. After this massive cost in lives and treasure there are more terrorist than at the start, and no one wants us in their country.
Carl von Clausewitz said that war is the continuation of politics by other means. If we must be involved in Middle East religious wars, our politicians should earn their pay and find political solutions. Clearly the military approach is not working.