Looking through all of the top stories of the most respectable news organizations in the U.S. this morning it was obvious to see that each and every story had something to do with ISIL. U.S. attacks in Syria; U.S. has broad coalition of Arab states; U.S. targets al Qaeda in Syria; U.S. bombing in Iraq has not stopped the momentum of ISIL.
What was missing was a piece or 2 about why attacking ISIL might not be a good idea. This made me immediately flashback to 2003 where the media seemed to encourage the U.S. to invade Iraq. Today, as in back then, there were almost no pieces about not going to war.
President Obama has clearly stated that ISIL does not impose a credible threat to the United States at this time/George Bush pushed shoddy evidence about Iraq’s Saddam Hussein having WMD and an imminent threat to our ‘homeland.’ These two statements just struck me as so similar; so trying to scare the public into agreeing to continuing the ‘war or terror’ for an infinite amount of time.
What Bush said is that we face a clear and present threat. What Obama said is that we do not. If not, Mr. Obama, can you please explain why we are doing what we are doing?
The thing almost everyone has forgotten about, or conveniently don’t talk about is strategy. First, with the current strategy everyone in the military has said bombing alone won’t work. I wrote about my suggestions in my last blog posting, check there if you want to see them. But, if it’s not going to work, and we all know it, why are we doing it? To give the American public the oh so satisfying sense of revenge by seeing bombs dropping?
Secondly, and much more importantly, is that no one talks about the Bush strategy of 2003 in Iraq. This strategy has made the US look completely incompetent, not able to win a war, and a Country not to be feared. When President Bush Sr. went to war against Iraq in 1990/91 he sent 550,000 American troops and 200,000 coalition troops. And had the war completely paid for by our allies. We handily won that war. The a few months later Mr. Bush sent troops back into Iraq for a very limited time and objectives, then brought them home.
In 2003 Bush Jr sent in around 150,000 troops. What no one talks about and no one wants to learn from is that the United States wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen next and that the change of tide of that war happened in 2003. Why weren’t 500,000 American troops there? Before the insurgency struck hold there was tremendous looting of everything in Iraq. Why? Because the US didn’t have enough ground troops to stabilize the area. If Iraq was stable immediately after the fall of Hussein we would see a completely different situation on the ground now.
Now, don’t get me wrong, invading Iraq in 2003 was an asinine thing to do. But, what confounded the problem and made it unsolvable is the utter incompetence of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld to have a strategy that worked. This part of the story should be studied much more because it brings us right back to where we are today.
Our military tells us the bombing campaign alone won’t work. President Obama has ignored that. Ground presence is needed; we seem to think the ‘moderate’ Syrians will help us. No, they won’t. The so called moderate Syrian rebels are the ones that sold the American journalist who was beheaded. What makes people think the arms we give them won’t be stolen by ISIL like they were in Iraq?
I say, time for serious and truthful dialogue about what we face and what are our best options? I haven’t seen/heard of any.