The recent surge in Iraq has gotten great press lately. Clearly Iraq is calmer than it has been in years. The surge itself, some have claimed, demonstrates how the Bush administration has learned to fight such an enemy. It provides, they say, a blueprint for defeating future enemies of this kind.
The first part of this is true: the surge in Iraq does demonstrate that Bush has learned more
effective methods to assist the Iraqis–in their establishment of an Islamic state on Iran’s western border. This has been most important consequence of the war. If this is our goal, then we have succeeded.
But even if the war had not empowered Iran, the claim that Bush’s tactics has created a blueprint for defeating Islamic terrorists anywhere is factually wrong on every level.
First, Bush has not defeated any “terrorists” anywhere.
Defeat does not mean tactical setback. It means ending the enemy’s commitment and capacity to fight. The Taliban were driven into the hills, and return regularly. They enjoy broad support in areas that are off- limits to us and our “friends” in Pakistan. Now we are about to begin negotiations with the Taliban, and to try and buy them off.
The enemy is not “terrorists” anyway. The enemy is the Islamic Totalitarians, who yet plan to establish Islamic states anywhere they can get away with it. If we do not identify the enemy properly, we should not be surprised when our government does not defeat that enemy.
Iraq is quiescent for the moment–as Afghanistan was quiet a year or two back–but this does not indicate their defeat. The ideological and material support for those fighting in both areas–Iran for Iraq, and Pakistan for Afghanistan–remains intact, and belligerent.
Second, as to the “blueprint,” until and unless we defeat the enemy in these areas, we will remain unable–that is, physically unable–to launch a third war of the kind being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. In terms of troops, many soldiers are seeing their enlistments extended into another deployment. This kind of war may exceed the capacity of a volunteer army to support. Potential rational volunteers will not want to fight a forever war for the sake of foreigners.
In terms of material resources, one example of our overstretch may suffice. The Pentagon is planning to abandon tens of thousands of motorized vehicles in Iraq. They are full of sand after five years and not worth bringing out. We will simply leave them for the Iraqis. We can rebuild them for the next war–at hundreds of billions in cost. But it is not possible for us to call up this number of vehicles right now, and to fight another war using this “blueprint.”
Third, in terms of our motivations to fight, Bush has lost so much credibility that there is no way the American people would support another war of this kind. Nor should they. Americans have had enough of working, paying taxes, and seeing their best young people die for the sake of foreigners.
Will Bush, in his last days in office, launch air strikes against the Iranian nuclear facilities? If he does, he may gain much support–but once the next defiant speech from the Iranians demonstrates that the strikes were ineffective, US military action will be further discredited.
This is what happens when a nation launches a war against a wrong enemy, for the wrong reasons, without the commitment to win–all the while the real enemy grows in strength.
It must be stated loudly: the single biggest consequence of the war in Iraq has been the empowerment of Iran. We removed Iran’s biggest regional foe, which they were unable to do for themselves. Americans today are reduced to that which they had under Carter: the ineffectual hope that the Iranian people will rise up against the regime. Maybe they will–in the fourth decade of the Islamic revolution.