Monday, August 18, 2008
On Friday August 15 the Bush administration sent Condoleezza Rice to meet with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili as a "show of U.S. support." Yikes. They sent Condi? Talk about giving somebody the goodbye look. If this were a Marty Scorsese movie, Saakashvili would have been sleeping with the fishes come Saturday morning. You'd think Keystone Kondi would have lent sufficient slapstick to the Georgian situation, but no. Adding to the antics, John McCain announced on Friday August 15 that he would send along as his personal representatives Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, the Bea Arthur and Betty White of neoconservatism. Then, to cap things off, McCain himself dropped the atomic punchline: "In the twenty-first century, nations don't invade other nations."
You could hear irony clawing at its coffin lid.
The bananastans are going bananas, Iran's down the can, al Qaeda is a more dangerous enemy than ever and our "victory" in Iraq has gone off in our faces like a joke shop cigar. Less than a decade into the New American Century, young Mr. Bush and the neoconservatives who promised us an empire have squandered everything our forefathers achieved in the America's first two and a quarter centuries as a nation. Yet, incredibly, bewilderingly, stupefyingly, a septuagenarian Senator who steals Christian prisoner stories from Alexander Solzhenitsyn and promises to protract the Bush foreign policy fumble-rama is a viable contender for the presidency of the United States.
We live in hysteric times.
Wasting America's Defenses
Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin continued to hone their Bush/Cheney act, Medvedev's mouth moving while Putin puffs on a cigarette, the two of them promising to end their military operation and not doing so. Condi got ever so cross about that and demanded that Russian troops "must leave immediately." Condi's ultimatum came after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he didn't see "any prospect for the use of military force by the United States" in the Georgia situation." So what was Rice planning to do if Russia didn't leave like she insisted, get more shrill with them?
The sad fact is that there really is no prospect of bringing U.S. military forces to play in the Georgia situation, largely because they're occupied in too many other places where they're unfortunately doing very little good.
Apparently impatient with the tactic of bombing Pakistani wedding parties with cruise missiles launched from nuclear submarines in attempts to bag terrorists, those ubiquitous top administration officials are twisting young Mr. Bush's arm to order U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan to be more aggressive in chasing terrorists into Pakistan. One has to suspect that all U.S. ground troops can accomplish in Pakistan that they couldn't do in Afghanistan is track the terrorists to Pakistani weddings and call in the submarine strike. Senior administration officials probably want to do things that way because the Authorization for Use of Military Forces that Congress gave Mr. Bush to conduct military operations in Afghanistan doesn't expressly sanction bombing weddings, but since Congress hasn't authorized war in Pakistan, it hasn't banned bombing weddings there either. See how that works?
The problem with this proposed cross-border strategy is that our man in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf, is about to earn a Purple Heart for the bruise he gets where the door hits him on the way out, and he's the guy who's been okay with us bombing his weddings. There's no real way of telling what the new regime's wedding bombing policy will be.
The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated to the point where non-government humanitarian aid is a high-risk endeavor. Irregular militant forces in Afghanistan aren't only conducting the types of hit and run terror operations like the one's we've become accustomed to seeing in Iraq: they're kicking the snot out of formal forces in straight up fights. Afghan security forces recently withdrew from the Ghazni district in central Afghanistan, abandoning the province to the Taliban. Don't think these kinds of bold offensives are only aimed at Afghan forces. In July, U.S. troops abandoned an outpost in eastern Afghanistan after insurgents killed nine of them in a direct assault.
This was something we need to take notice of. It wasn't an instance of American G.I.s getting kiboshed by car or suicide bombers or roadside explosives or random mortar rounds lobbed into their entrenchments or some other sort of asymmetric sucker punch. This was a case where a groups of cave dwellers with less formal education than Rush Limbaugh went toe to toe with a unit of the best trained, best equipped military in and forced it to abandon a defended position. Please don't anybody think we'll wrap things up in Afghanistan up with a pretty pink bow just by sending a few more troops there.
And disaffect yourself of any notion you may have that our puppet government in Afghanistan is any more stable than our puppet government in Pakistan. Musharraf's enemies pressured him out of office. The foes of Afghan President Hamid Karzai are trying to pressure him into the next life, and what's more, the people trying to assassinate him may be our buddies in the Pakastani intelligence service. Of course, the people saying that are our buddies in Karzai's Afghan intelligence service. The only people we have to sort out who's telling the truth are the American intelligence services, so we'll never learn what's really going on.
Our puppet in Iraq, on the other hand, doesn’t seem terribly worried about losing his job or his life. Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki is so confident in his position, in fact, that he's told us to present him with a detailed plan of how and when we'll pack sand and vacate his premises.
Journalist and historian Gareth Porter relays an anecdote that says Bush told Maliki "If the negotiations for a force presence agreement] crash and burn, I will be forced to pull out all U.S. troops by Jan. 1."
Hence, gathering every iota of statesmanship at his command, young Mr. Bush told Maliki that if we can't stay in his country, we'll leave. When Maliki tells Bush to go spit in his shoe, Bush will doubtless blame Iran for not talking Maliki into playing ball.
Is it any wonder, given the strategic wasteland that is America's security policy, that almost seven years into our woebegone war on terror, a study by the Rand Corporation has concluded that al Qaeda remains a "strong and competent" organization?
America spends as much on defense as rest of the world combined, yet our military failed to defend the homeland from an air raid conducted by four commercial jets armed with box cutters, we cannot control the military behavior of Russia, whose defense budget is roughly 10 percent the size of ours, the administration says that the nation that presents our greatest challenge is Iran, whose defense budget is less that one percent of ours, and we've failed to diminish al Qaeda, the terrorist organization that attacked us on September 11, 2001, and whose defense budget is zero percent of ours.
Fellow citizens, I say let's vote McCain in and give the neocons another chance to get it right. In for a penny, in for an Armageddon, that's my motto.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.
at 11:31 AM