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A View from the Edge of a Cliff or an Abyss ?

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"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center." ~ Vonnegut

Much of today's political dialogue is not only ideological but dogmatic with a mass mindedness that is reflective of the hysteria which impelled the United States to War in Iraq after the trauma of 9/11. In a situation where a rational historical perspective is called for America behaves like a slumbering giant tied down by Lilliputs. It may well take another shock to the American psyche to bring the discussion back down to earth.

Nothing epitomizes the trauma of American foreign policy more than the issue of immigration where the symptoms of both polarization and paralysis prevail.

President Bush is fond of saying that he believes in the "Rule of Law" yet he does not secure our borders at a time of war which is his Constitutional duty. The War in Iraq is justified by telling the American public that our young men are dying in Iraq so the terrorists will not attack American soil with weapons of mass destruction. Despite this grave threat to national security the President and Congress refuse to secure American borders.

This rank hypocrisy is not lost upon the average American and undermines any argument the Bush Administration puts forth as justification for the War in Iraq.

It is a sad fact that what most Americans know about Christianity comes from hearsay so it ought not be surprising that still less is known about Islam.

At the death of the Prophet Mohammed a schism developed between Sunnis and Shiites over the legitimate successor to Mohammed. The depth of this schism between Shiites and Sunnis must not be underestimated and ought to be used to the advantage of the United States. In the Koran there are indeed admonitions for faithful Moslems to attack the Crusader (Christian) and the Jew but more importantly the Prophet Mohammed condemned the Apostate of Islam as a greater sinner than either Crusader or Jew.

We may recall that Osama Bin Laden was born in Yemen but raised in Saudi Arabia. He is a devout Sunni who considered the secular Sunni Saddam Hussein an abominable Apostate. As a Sunni Osama also has a natural antipathy towards the Shiite Iran. Prior to Operation Desert Storm that Osama Bin Laden begged the Saudis to allow him and his mujahideen forces to evict Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and not allow the establishment of permanent foreign military bases on the Arabian Peninsula as forbidden in the Koran.

Having already defeated the Soviet Union Osama's mujahideen forces were in position to defeat Saddam but the Saudis refused. The United States would renege on its promise to abandon its military bases in Saudi Arabia at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm. This would cement the hatred Osama Bin Laden has of the United States and the Saudi house of Fahd since in the Koran Mohammed prohibits the establishment of foreign military bases on the Arabian Peninsula. Prior to that time Al-Qaeda never attacked U.S. soil. Al-Qaeda attacked America for what the United States did and not for who Americans are.

Osama and Saddam had in common their complete antipathy towards the Shia nation of Iran. It is for this reason that members of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban who have fled to Iran have been placed under house arrest.

Today the U.S. is prepared to leave or reduce their presence in Iraq after suffering 3000 casualties during 4 years of fighting. Americans forget that Saddam made his bones fighting Iran. He fought them for 10 years. In his first 4 years of war with Iran he did not suffer 3000 casualties. He suffered 250,000 casualties.

The tragedy of President Bush's foreign policy is that in geopolitical terms it preemptively destroyed Baathist control of Iraq which effectively served as a Sunni Buffer to Iranian aggression on the Arabian Peninsula and ironically upon Israel.

That buffer was needlessly destroyed and now the region is threatened with the establishment of a Shia Crescent extending from Iran through Lebanon to Israel's northern border.

This has led not only to the death of American Soldiers in Iraq but to the aggression of Hezbollah in Lebanon against Israel. Israel's ignominious retreat from Lebanon has only given incentive to Hezbollah in Lebanon as witnessed by recent demonstrations in Beirut. In the end Israel will be forced to attack Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah. It would be premature to assume Israel will win this battle outright. Hezbollah consists of ferocious fighters and apart from jungle warfare only urban warfare is more hazardous to the health of so-called Super Powers.

The humiliating defeat on the part of Israel and the inability of the United States to win in Iraq is a source of great succor to our enemies to which Americans ought to pause and give a moment of quiet reflection upon the following historical fact: Two nuclear Super Powers unable to defeat largely uneducated insurgents who possess no nuclear weapons, tanks, planes, navy or high tech equipment. This is truly shock and awe!!!

The threat of the establishment of a Shia Crescent indirectly led to the riots in France by Muslim extremists this past summer. This is simply a forerunner of future urban warfare in Europe which is patterned after the warfare of Beirut and Baghdad.

Victory with reliance upon high tech weaponry and the avoidance of a high body count (of U.S. forces and the civilian population) is doomed to failure. Like the Battle of Stalingrad only the use of overwhelming force i.e. the firebombing of Bagdad and Fallujah can assure a military victory.

Democratic elections have been held among the Palestinians and in Lebanon. Hamas won Palestinian elections and Hezbollah won a large block of seats in the Lebanese Parliament. Does the United States have any realistic reason to believe that its enemies will not win "democratic" elections in Iraq or Lebanon?

In the forgotten war in Afghanistan the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense fails to learn as the British had in an earlier century: "You can rent an Afghan but you cannot buy one." Had the United States recognized this truism it would have used its own forces to destroy Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban at Torah Bora rather than outsourcing the job out to Afghan warlords.

Like the Soviet Union the United States boasts of capturing Afghan cities and destroying enemy infrastructure. This ignores the fact that Afghanistan has no infrastructure and is not an urban based society. The traditional Mongol method of warfare has always been not to face the enemy in all out battle but ever to retreat and bide their time. Mongols have always surrendered their cities. Mobility, terror and defeating the will of the enemy were the greatest weapons for the Mongols and are the weapons they are using today.

In addition the Afghans are experiencing bumper crops in the growth of poppies which are finding their way into Western Europe and the United States. The U.S. does nothing to destroy the cultivation of poppies. The U.S. is a long way from victory in Afghanistan and the War on Drugs.

With the United States preoccupied in Iraq the government of Pakistan has negotiated a treaty with the warlords of northwestern Pakistan in which the Pakistani government agrees not to send troops into northwestern Pakistan to attack Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

Adding insult to injury, Pakistan who ostensibly is an American ally refuses to allow U.S. troops into northwestern Pakistan to attack forces of Al-Qaeda or of the Taliban. In essence Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have safe refuge in Pakistan. Remarkably there is little outrage from the American public over this farcical situation.

Meanwhile war with Iran begins to take on an aura of inevitability. Iran is not Iraq.

At the very beginning of the Bush Administration Iran was deemed by President Bush as a member of the Axis of Evil along with Iraq. Iran then watched as the United States invaded Iraq in pursuit of non existent weapons of mass destruction and doubtless wondered if they would be next.

President Bush has warned Iran not to interfere in Iraqi internal affairs or bring weapons across the Iraqi border. This is strong talk from a President who chose to invade Iraq and refuses to secure the American borders. U.S. troops have been authorized to shoot to kill Iranian agents in Iraq. Hopefully U.S. troops will protect themselves and wag the dog does not become history imitating art.

There is a reason why Genies are kept in a bottle. By nature they are mischievous imps and have a mind of their own. Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Moslem nations all possess the nuclear genie or should I say the nuclear genie possesses them.

The Soviet Union and China properly recognize the Middle East as an area falling under the American/Israeli sphere of influence. This is not so with Iran. The Soviet Union and China cannot allow the establishment of permanent U.S. military facilities in Iran.

Queen Elizabeth I famously said: "The outcome of war is a most uncertain thing." The daughter of Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn and cousin to Mary Queen of Scots knew something of the trials, travails and mostly the uncertainty of foreign policy.

Her advisors assured her she would win the battle of Le Havre. She lost and had to surrender to the last English possession on the French mainland. Later she would face imminent defeat at the hands of the 16th century super power in the form of the Spanish Armada. She would win.

Such is the current view of U.S. Foreign policy with the only question being if the view is from over a cliff or an abyss.

Tick Tock. Only time will tell what internal fate and external destiny awaits the United States in the Middle East.

 

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"True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else." - Clarence Darrow
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