War on Terror continues with thwarted attacks on U.S., but conventional tactics don’t work for us…

I guess when times are good foreign policy is the hot political issue, but when times are bad it’s all about the economy.

But the thwarted attack on America reported over the last 24 hours, with airplanes carrying printer cartridges with hidden explosives coming out of the Arabian Peninsula nation of Yemen, are a reminder the War on Terror or the threat of terror, presumably from the seemingly loose-knit organization Al Qaeda, persists, with the Christmas underwear bomber attempt still fresh in our memory, not to forget the foreign- inspired attack by one of our own military officers at Ft. Hood last November, as well.

Maybe not THE reason, but certainly an important reason, or contributing factor, for our ailing economy is the tremendous monetary burden our current war effort in Afghanistan and our continuing efforts in Iraq cost us — trillions of dollars. And we are doing this all in the name of a War on Terror, as our just-previous President George W. Bush declared it to be.

Living in the Northern California rural hinterlands as I do, I feel as if I am in a kind of foreign policy vacuum. I seldom hear anyone even mention the war effort in the Middle East, except to say we ought to “support the troops”, but even that line is delivered as some kind of generic utterance, meaning simply, be proud to be an American, support the home team, or when you’re running down my country man you’re walking on the fighting side of me (copyright credit to Merle Haggard on the latter). No one seems to even be concerned as to what is really trying to be accomplished. Some people have children or spouses or other loved ones in the war. All they can logically think is that is their job that they were sent by our government to do.

The war is usually reported as being unpopular — well then why are we still fighting it?

It’s as if we have realized it is a losing proposition but are reluctant to quit because then we would lose and that would dishonor those who have sacrificed and make us all look bad. Call it the Vietnam syndrome. We know how that turned out.

I have not heard the Tea Party say much about the war, except “support the troops”, equating that with patriotism, but failing to address the underlying policy that has put us where we are.

While I still think George W. Bush has to be one of the worst presidents the United States has ever had, I reluctantly have to admit we are seemingly forced into the War on Terror, even though I once noted in a blog that instead of fighting another nation, as usually is done in wars, we are fighting a concept or a noun (the word terror, being a noun).

How we choose to fight back in this war is open to question or debate. Personally I could not argue with our original invasion of Afghanistan. As I recall, the government there, run by the Taliban at the time, was harboring Osama Bin Laden, et al, and refused access to him. So we had an identifiable leader and force that had just killed some 3000 people on our own home ground (homeland sounds kind of Hitleresk) holed up in a country overseas that was refusing to cooperate so it became an accomplice to this Pearl Harbor-like attack (and remember, that neocon group with direct ties to the Bush administration the Project for the New American Century who wanted us to take control in the Middle East said we needed a Pearl Harbor. Curiously we got it — but forget that, I just had to mention it). But it seems conventional military tactics don’t work in things like this — we find out a decade later.

Of course it didn’t help we inexplicably let ourselves get sidetracked in Iraq, which I feel obligated to mention had nothing to do with 9/11 (at last I have heard). And it did not help that the Bush administration inexplicably gave up on the hunt for Bin Laden, by its own admission, that is Bush admitted looking for Osama was not really that important to him anymore about half way into it all — he did not say why, as I recall. I mean it was important enough to go to war over in the first place.

But along comes President Barack Obama (not Osama, as his detractors like to call him), condemning our effort in Iraq but vowing to continue our already-lost effort in Afghanistan (Bin Laden and much of Al Qaeda already reportedly having long fled to Pakistan) and in fact upping the ante with thousands more troops and much more money to throw at the corrupt government and local strongmen there too.

And we are still losing.

Perhaps if we had gone directly after Al Qaeda in the first place and with a larger force we might have been more successful, but that would have taken leadership, civilian, in the form of a president who could urge sacrifice for the war effort, rather than urge us all to go shopping, and generals willing to offer their military knowledge rather than just what they think their commander in chief wants to hear so they can move swiftly on to retirement at full rank. But I hate to be too hard on the military, it is subject to the whims of and subordinate to civilian authority.

We can have some comfort that our security apparatus, with the help of that of other nations overseas, does seem to be helping us thwart subsequent attacks. And it is apparent that we will have to continue our efforts in the War on Terror, but conventional military actions may not be the answer, and I do not mean new type military strategies, such as counter-insurgency or surges or whatever are the answer.

To me the answer is what the public really wants — that is to rebuild our own nation. Maybe that is why foreign policy is not an issue in these mid-term elections.

Yemen is a hotbed of terrorism because for one thing it is one of the poorest nations on earth.

We can spend our time trying to bring the rest of the poverty-stricken parts of the world out of their misery or we could spend the time rescuing ourselves.

Charity begins at home. And if we do not get serious about rescuing ourselves, we won’t even be able to send foreign aid to anyone, much less wage war.

P.s.

Yes. I believe in “supporting the troops”. Not supporting the troops is sending them to war but failing to define what victory is and failing to go all out, to include sacrifice from the civilian sector, but instead letting things drag on into stalemate and letting troops die or get gravely injured for no purpose in the end.

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