Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ignorant of History and Determined to Repeat It

Yogi Berra died recently. He was a hall-of-fame baseball player for the New York Yankees -- an iconic figure in baseball -- but more than that, he was a guy who could string a few words together and make you think, huh? One of the things he said that the recent Republican debate brought to mind was, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.”

That’s certainly what’s happened to us ever since we started meddling in the byzantine affairs of the Mesopotamian tribes of Iran, Iraq, and Syria. It worries me that our recent crop of Republican presidential candidates seem so uninformed about America’s unfortunate history of failed excursions in the region. They stood on the dais at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library in Simi Valley, California, and tried to convince voters that they were the honest-to-god best person to be the next American president and fly on the Air Force One that stood as the backdrop to these wannabe Commanders-in-Chief. Unfortunately they demonstrated that they aren’t ready for the job.
With the possible exception of Sen. Rand Paul, these people still don’t understand the massive strategic blunder that the U.S. made in invading Iraq in 2003. They don’t ‘connect the dots’ between that calamity and the chaos that exists in and migrates from the region today.

The candidates talked over each other in their efforts to convince the audience how tough they’d be as commander-in-chief. They would’ve stayed in Iraq, forgetting that the Iraqis didn’t want us and George W. Bush agreed to leave. They’d take on ISIS on the ground in Syria. The so-called “second-tier” Republican debaters were even more forceful in their promises to put “boots on the ground” in Syria.

Jeb Bush, who has vacillated on the wisdom of his brother’s decision to invade Iraq, admits he’s using some of the same foreign policy advisers his father and brother used. But he “will be his own man.” He blames President Obama and Hillary Clinton for creating the “insecurity” in the Middle East, “the likes of which we never would've imagined.”

Insecurity is a placid term for what is a haboob of death and destruction that, in fact, not only could we have imagined, but was predicted by none other than the elder Bush, who showed admirable restraint in not attempting the occupation of Iraq after kicking Saddam out of Kuwait in 1991, saying that doing so, “would have been disastrouss.” At that time, even Dick Cheney cautioned against becoming mired down in an Iraq “quagmire.” Brent Scowcroft, Chairman of George W. Bush’s own Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, went on ‘Face the Nation’ in August 2002 where he predicted that invading Iraq, “would turn the Middle East into a cauldron.” He followed up with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal later that month.
The Iraq war cost America thousands of lives, left thousands more injured and maimed, cost trillions of dollars, and brought the U.S. economy to its knees. The conduct of the war tarnished forever America’s image as a just and reliable ally. It left Iraq a devastated country wracked by sectarian violence. It created this humanitarian crises that floats bodies upon the shores of Europe.
In defense of his brother, Jeb Bush said, “You know what? As it relates to my brother, there's one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.”

No comments: