President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan was everything we have a right to expect from one of his speeches. It was vapid, dishonest, puerile, and–most of all–confused. Speaking grandly of an exit strategy he never defined, he did not once address the more serious question of an entrance strategy. What possible reason did we ever have for going in to that awful place, except to kill people we don’t like? I’ll give Obama this: The man never disappoints; he always lives down to my lowest expectations.
So do the Republicans. While many peacenik Democrats were at best luke-warm or even critical, Lindsey Graham. John McCain, and even Karl Rove all jumped on Obama’s war wagon, thumping their little tin drums for more blood. Their only complaint is that it has taken so long to fall 10,000 soldiers short of General McChrystal’s request. To a man, the GOP’a leadership appears to think that General Petraeus should be left to run the war–and the world, if necessary.
Rumor and perhaps more than rumor has it that McChrystal actually wanted far more than 40,000 but agreed on that figure as a compromise. It is not enough, far from it, to insure victory (whatever that means.) If he does not have a clue as to why we went in, how can he possibly devise an exit strategy? So the pointless killing goes on.
Obama took weeks to do what we all knew he would do even before he began holding his never-ending sequence of meetings: Come up a day late and some thousands of soldiers short. Like every other bureaucrat and neighborhood organizer today, Obama thinks that talking and posturing actually accomplish something. He probably still believes in Headstart, Cap and Trade to reduce Global Warming, and the Tooth Fairy. At least the Tooth Fairy–or one of her reps–actually pays off, though, because of uncontrolled government spending, she has to increase her rates evry few years.
The meetings were entirely useless. What, exactly, does a man of his low caliber and lack of experience have to contribute to a discussion of any defense policy? He never served a day in the military, cannot apparently read a balance sheet, and has a knowledge of history that is only matched by his command of the English language. (Even his Chicago accent sounds more like a Dan Akroyd rip-off.) We need a constitutional amendment requiring military service of anyone in the federal chain of command, and combat duty, if it were possible, of any presidential candidate. Yes, that means my wife shall have to give up her dream of redecorating the White House to eliminate all the residual bad taste of the Kennedys and Clintons and Obamas, but we are prepared to make any sacrifice, pay any price, tell any lie if it will advance the cause of freedom and democracy.
Does President Obama have any desire to protect this country? His Department of Homeland Security is again proposing to amnesty millions of aliens who have illegally invaded our country, and his Secret Service cannot even keep a Pakistani gate-crasher out of the White House. Perhaps Tareq Salahi just wanted to discuss the theology of Jihad with a former student of the religion of peace.
Even the Left has lost patience with the Prince of Peace Prizes. Like LBJ, he ran on a peace platform against the War Party, only to deliver more carnage. What did we expect? Obama isn’t the President, not really. He is like the actor (played by Richard Dreyfus) hired to stand in for the dictator in Moon Over Parador, except the ham actor did a better job of playing the part. The day he named Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff, he had sold his pacifist soul to the Zionist devil.
The problem with Obama and his administration is not that they are either pacifists or militarists but that they are as clueless as Robert McNamara or Jimmy Carter. My entire adult life I have watched American foreign policy and defense gurus lead us into debacle after debacle. Whether in Southeast Asia, Central America, or the Middle East, these people, time after time, rush headlong into a conflict without pausing to consider what their objectives are or what victory requires. Inevitably they think they can win on the cheap. The result is always the same: massive slaughter, a rise in anti-Americanism, and failure.
I am not now nor have ever been an isolationist. America is the greatest power in the world today, and any American government must play its cards, as world power, in the interest of the American people–as opposed to the interest of arms manufacturers or the Israel Lobby. Although the elaboration of any policy would require great knowledge and experience and considerable prudence, there are only two possible winning strategies: We can either mind our own business or build a great empire.
If, as it appears, our Yankee Puritan heritage prevents us from following the wise policy of benign neutrality advocated by George Washington, then let the megalomaniacs pursue their dreams of empire. But if they do, let them freely acknowledge what they are doing, without taking refuge in such cowardly evasions as wars to end wars, spreading democracy, or building an “imperium.” They want an empire because it feels good to make everyone else cower and because there is so much money to be made. For most American politicians, greed and libido dominandi are about the noblest motives of which they are capable. Some just want access to Congressional pages and the chance to go on TV.
If they are Hell-bent on creating an empire, fine, let them do it or at least try to do it, but they shall need to raise taxes, reinstitute the draft, and be prepared for the terrible bloodshed that might slake their lust for blood. Some people don’t actually want to be ruled by the United States and some of them even understand that all this talk about peace and democracy and human rights are simply code words for American imperialism. And some of them even are crazy enough to fight back, when they are attacked. If someone else is doing the aggression, we call the resisters, “freedom fighters,” but when it is America stomping on them, they are terrorists.
If we are going to pretend to be Romans, let us act like Romans the Romans who were lenient in victory and offered the benefit of a better legal system and higher culture to most of their conquered peoples. But, if a Gallic chieftain raised a little rebellion, Julius Caesar and his successors were absolutely merciless in slaughtering and enslaving the rebels. It took several generations for the Gauls to calm down and give up their language and their bloodthirsty gods, but in the end they were probably better off–until the Germans invaded and Rome was too weak to repel the invaders. Empires bring in rewards, but the cost is high. If our own imperialists want to carve out an American province that stretches from Israel to Iraq to Afghanistan, let them do it, but not on the cheap. Imperial conquest requires much money and many lives.
The question is, therefore, whether to fish or cut Bait. I have been saying this same thing for 40 years. The insight flashed in my mind when I received a personal reply to a letter I’d sent my congressman, complaining about the extension of the Vietnam War to Cambodia. My congressman, L. Mendel Rivers, something of a friend of my father, was chairman of the House Armed Forces Committee and the biggest warhawk in the Congress. His reply shocked me at the time. He said, in essence, “I agree with you. If we are not determined to win this war, then we should not be fighting it.” I disagreed with Mendel’s militarism, but for all his many weaknesses he was a real American statesman. It was a dying breed then and an extinct species today. That is only one of many reasons why we cannot entrust even a brushfire war–much less a grand imperial strategy–to the American political class today. They will never learn how to fish, but they are too afraid of knives to cut bait.