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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/18/10

The Trilogy of Despair as Bin Laden Dances in His Cave

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Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, in no particular order of importance, are an obvious threat to both our national security and our economy, and most Americans, thanks to the MSM, remain oblivious. With a half-hearted attack on Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, followed byan invasion of Iraq President Bush fulfilled Osama bin Laden's wildest dreams. Today the "Great Satan" is severely weakened, militarily and economically. Our ground forces are on life supportafter nearly nine years of war in Afghanistan and 7 1/2 years of war in Iraq. We have no reserve. Osama is dancing in his cave, and Americans remain ignorant, overwhelmed by problems at home.

The overall view of Americans toward the volatile regions mentioned above is a total lack of concern for the most part, and that is astonishing while being reasonable at the same time, because so many Americans have other things to think about. To wit: It's the economy, stupid, and rampant unemployment isstifling recovery from the Great Recession, begun also during the Bush administration. In a Gallup poll recently released two-third of Americans rate economic concerns as the nation's top problem. Only 4% mentioned war.To many, an attack on Iran is unthinkable. So, Americans don't think about it. Iraq and Afghanistan is being fought by other people's kids, the poor, the uneducated, and kids without a job searching for some kind of future. To many, their only recourse is the armed forces. It is not as if these two elongated wars were being fought by draftees that would span the entire economic spectrum of America's classes, even our sports heroes. That would cause an uproar, an uproar the Pentagon does not even want to contemplate.These wars are being fought, for the most part, bythe sons and daughters of our poor and immigrants, legal and otherwise. Kids we don't know. Americans don't even blink at the cost, approximatelyone trillion dollars, short term. Long term, the cost will be two to three trillion dollars. As our infrastructure is crumbling, as our educational system is collapsing, as our economy remains stagnant, who cares? If our valuable and brave troops need the funding, then so be it. Only one problem, our "valuable and brave troops," totally aware of the frustrations of not being allowed to win, would rather be home and have all that money put to better use.

There is onevital question that needs to be answered. Aware of American dominance in the military arena since the end of WWII, what haschanged regardingU.S. military superiority in the past decade? An attempt will be made to answer that question after a review is made of our triumvirate of real orpotential military disasters.

First up is Iran. Columnist Steve Clemons makes his views known with his article,
Stop Hyperventilating: Obama Will Not Choose War with Iran - Â He writes, "Iran, which clearly can dial up or dial down the activities of its transnational terrorist networks has them on low simmer at this point. An attack against Iran would probably blow this control valve off -- resulting in a terrorist superhighway running from Iran through Iraq into Jordan and Syria right toward Israel. This network would also unleash itself against allied Arab state governments in the region and also cause havoc against US forces and affiliates in Iraq and Afghanistan."Â

There appears to be an eagerness within the US Air Force, largely shut out of our two current wars,to bomb Iran's nuclear program capacity to remove a dastardly American enemy. However, the other military services are not so sanguine and fear that the logistics demands for such a military action and its follow-up would undermine other major operations. In other words, adding another major obligation to America's military roster could literally break the back of the US military, erode morale, and result in eventual, massive shifts in American domestic support for the US military machine which had become increasingly costly and less able to generate the security expected.

Iran for decades has longed to be at the top of the food chain in a small pond known as the Middle East. There were two obstacles to achieving that goal, the Saddam regime in Iraq and, of course, Israel, currently at the top of that food chain. President Bush's ill-conceived attack on Iraq removed one of those obstacles, and today the Shiite leadership in Baghdad is sympathetic to Shiite Iran mostly because many of Iraq's current leaders hid out in Iran while Saddam was in power.Â

Iran is where they were educated and where they were able to maintain their spheres of influence. It does not appear that the U.S. will aid Iran again. David Frum, a former economic speech writer for President George W. Bush, contends that Iran desires to be attacked. He suggests that one should pause a bit before actually doing what Iran's theocratic elites seem to be inviting. An attack on Iran would give Ahmadinejad, the hard right clan around Ayatollah Khamenei and the most despotic, anti-reformist wings of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard exactly what they need to further consolidate their political hold today. Given the contested election and turmoil among Iran's top elites and other strong internal tensions inside Iran's political system, the leadership today does not enjoy a strongly consolidated position. Bombing Iran would solve this for Iran's current leadership. Moreover, Iran may find itself the beneficiary of sympathy reactions that it does notdeserve from other states around the world including Russia and Chinaand certainmembers ofthe EU, our allies.

A U.S. attack on Iran simply will not happen, better put, cannot happen.

Second in line is Iraq. At a recent reception Geoff Millard, chairman of the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War, was introduced to Sen. John McCain. After the introduction, Sen. McCain boldly proclaimed, "You're too late. We already won that one." He is the second Republican to announce that. The first was President Bush onboard the Abraham Lincoln over seven years ago. Gen. David Petraeus is often credited with reducing the violence in Iraq after the "surge" of 30,000 extra US troops. But the violence continues unabated. There are reports of suicide bombings, car bombs, roadside bombs and armed attacks in Iraq. About 300 civilians continue to die each month, and more than two million Iraqis continue to live as refugees. Marjorie Cohn asks, "I wonder how McCain defines 'victory' in Iraq.Â

The US mission there has never been clear since the invasion in 2003. First, the search for weapons of mass destruction proved fruitless. Then, it became evident there was no link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Finally, we were told the US invaded Iraq to accomplish regime change and bring democracy to the Iraqi people. But if democracy is the goal, there has been no victory."

Iraq's infrastructure has been destroyed. Most Iraqis have less than six hours of electricity per day. Baghdad's poorer neighborhoods have as little as one hour per day, leaving them without so much as an electric fan to withstand the blistering heat - 120 degrees in some places. Potable water is scarce, and disease is rampant. Reconstruction of what we have destroyed in Iraq remains elusive. The inconclusive elections in March created a power vacuumwhich the AQI (Al-Qa'ida in Iraq)is exploiting on a near daily basis with ferocity. Incidentally, prior to Bush's invasion, Al-Qa'ida did not exist in Iraq. Saddam would not permit it.

This just in, "ATLANTA (AP) -- President Barack Obama declared [recently]that the Iraq war was nearing an end 'as promised and on schedule,' touting what he called a success of his administration though it comes amid persistent instability and uncertainty in Iraq [emphasis is mine]." The Iraq war is not "nearing an end." Actually, there is no end in sight. Obama cited progress toward meeting his deadline of withdrawing all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of this month. Pardon my French, that is just plain B.S. It is beyond all comprehension thatObama can regard the withdrawal of troops, better known as retreat, while the issue is still in question as some sort of monumental accomplishment. This becomes even more bizarre when one realizes that thewithdrawal was worked out by the previous GOP administration with Iraq during SOFA(Status of Forces Agreement) negotiations in Dec. 2008.

A transitional force of 50,000 troops will remain to train Iraqi security forces, conduct counterterrorism operations and provide security for ongoing U.S. civilian efforts. According to an agreement negotiated in 2008 (SOFA), all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of next year. Obama knows the war is not over. He later states, "The hard truth is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq. But make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing -- from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats." Diplomats, I suppose,like Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who returned from the
Munich Conference and declared while holding a worthless piece of paper in his hand, "I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now I recommend you go home, and sleep quietly in your beds." One year later World War Two began. Not unlike Chamberlain, Obama may be blissfully unaware that we will in Iraq for a very long time, decades even.

No mention was made in Obama's speech about the contractors, hired guns actually, who equal or exceed in number U.S. troops in Iraq. That's quite an omission. Well, not really, the hired guns are rarely mentioned in any conversation about Iraq. They are a Top Secret issue nearly everyone knows about, particularly if one lives in Iraq. Obama's withdrawal of "combat troops" according tothe SOFA is being touted by some as a great achievement.It's not. Ironically, I am thrilled. I have been urging it for years. Fact is, based entirely on bogus causes, we never should have invaded Iraq in the first place.But don't label retreat as some sort of victory. The war in Iraq was an egregious debacle the very day it began. Welcome to the 21st Century version of warfare.

Last, but certainly not least, is the war in Afghanistan. I have written volumes about the Afghan war on this site, and it is gratifying to know that the MSM is finally catching up to me. That makes my job a little easier because I no longer have to offer a review of what was once known as the forgotten war. Thanks to Obama's surge of 30,000 American troops, the public is becoming more aware of the travesty called the Afghan war. That said,an examination of the training program involving the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP)could be revealing. By 2008, $16.5 billion had been spent on Army and police training programs. The GAO chimed in, indicating that only two of 105 army units were "assessed as being fully capable of conducting their primary mission," while "no police unit is fully capable." In 2009, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction
reported that "only 24 of 559 Afghan police units are considered ready to operate without international help." This June, a U.S. government audit, again from the Special Inspector General, contradicted the latest upbeat American and NATO training assessments, reporting that "the standards used to appraise the Afghan forces since 2005 were woefully inadequate, inflating their abilities." The usual litany of training woes followed. Yet, according to Reuters, President Obama wants another $14.2 billion for the training project "for this year and next."

Columnist Tom Engelhardt has a unique perspective on all of this. He writes, "When it comes to U.S. training programs then, you might conclude that Afghanistan has proved to be Catch-22-ville, the land where time stood still -- and so, evidently, has the Washington national security establishment's collective brain. For Washington, there seems to be no learning curve in Afghanistan, not when it comes to 'training' Afghans anyway." He adds rather significantly, "And here is the oddest thing of all, though no one even bothers to mention it in this context: the Taliban haven't had tens of billions of dollars in foreign training funds; they haven't had years of advice from the best U.S. and NATO advisors that money can buy; they haven't had private contractors like
DynCorp teaching them how to fight and police, and strangely enough, they seem to have no problem fighting. They are not undermanned, infiltrated by followers of Hamid Karzai, or particularly corrupt. They may be illiterate and may not be fluent in English, but they are ready, in up-to platoon-sized units, to attack heavily fortified U.S. military bases, Afghan prisons, a police headquarters, and the like with hardly a foreign mentor in sight."

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I am the author of two novels, "The Bode Testament" and "Impeachment." I am also a columnist who keeps a wary eye on other columnists and the failures of the MSM (mainstream media). I was born in Minnesota, and, to this day, I love the Vikings (more...)
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