Was George W. Bush right after all with his war on terror?

October 11, 2014

I almost choke while asking this question but: could George W. Bush have been right all along to declare a war on terror? With the threat of what seems like the most diabolical enemy ever, at least in modern times, that is ISIS, with its beheadings and mass killings, it seems we need to confront this and do it now. I’m beginning to miss the good old days of the Cold War when it seemed there was less violence.

But then again, there was Korea and Vietnam and other hot wars. There is always war. But the Cold War with the two super powers did seem to keep some things in check.

Mostly it was just two super powers, the U.S. and the now defunct Soviet Union, threatening to annihilate each other with nuclear missiles, meanwhile each controlling or having hegemony over their respective halves of the world.

But America has grown soft in its wealth and luxury (financial crises notwithstanding).

Presidents cannot even think of asking or urging Americans to really sacrifice.

In a previous post I said something to the effect that there is no value in shedding any more American blood in Iraq, or did I say the whole Middle East? No difference. I don’t think there is, either way, especially since this nation quit fighting wars to win after World War II.

Well actually I would consider Korea a sort of win in that we did push the communist forces back across the 38th parallel.

I don’t believe in the concept of “limited war”. I don’t think you can limit war. You either fight to win or you end up losing. But fighting to win can be a major investment and a major risk. Victory is not guaranteed. So you have to pick your battles.

Right now the forces of ISIS do indeed seem to pose a threat to the whole world. So it would seem that it would be worth it to go at it with them head on. But President Obama is fighting back only reluctantly and in a limited fashion for now.

He has committed air power in Iraq and finally into Syria, after initially backing down from his promise to not let the Assad regime cross a red line — and actually that is separate from the current threat by ISIS, except related in that all of it has to do with an ongoing civil war in that nation that pits disparate forces against Syrian strong man Assad and each other — all very complicated.  Meanwhile ISIS takes advantage of the power vacuum and confusion in Syria, and of the weakness and internal struggles in Iraq. ISIS (a split-off from the more familiar Al Qaeda) is the real threat now (and I guess there are other similar factions, but let’s not get into that). This group of thugs appears to want to take over the Middle East and then maybe the whole world. And with modern transportation and technology this is a serious threat.

Obama seems to think that only our air power alone in some limited fashion is the best way to go, and let indigenous forces, on our side (do they even exist?), do the ground work. We tried letting the South Vietnamese ground forces do the dirty work once upon a time, but they wisely decided that it was better to live and let the other guys die (that is Americans). And I apologize to the families of any South Vietnamese soldiers who did give up their lives. I’m just talking the big picture. But we soon found out we had to commit our own forces in Vietnam, for it was really our war (we had chosen to make it our war already).

I doubt the American public, although spooked no doubt by the beheadings and massacres inflicted by ISIS, is in the mood to commit large numbers of troops in the fight at this time. And the public is never asked outright to pay for war, it is all but hidden in special appropriations. I think it must be hard to wage a successful war when you have to almost secretly fund it.

Enemies of the free Western world have only to look to the history of the past few decades to see that America has lost its resolve to fight battles and win.  An example. In the first Iraq War we did not defeat Saddam Hussein in that we did not go all the way to Baghdad and arrest and hang him then and there. In the second war with that nation, we finally just left without actually finishing the whole job (although the Iraqis themselves did hang Hussein), only to have problems flare up all over again.

And, according to Wikipedia, we lost almost 5,000 American troops between 2003 and 2014 in Iraq, and of course thousands were severely maimed or wounded. And still we left without finishing the job it seems. It could well be argued that we should not have gone in there in the first place, but the fact is we did and we put a major investment into the job. Talking dollars and cents, what is the figure? More than a trillion dollars spent on the project over the past decade.

I think it is a crime to commit any forces, be they air or ground or both, if you do not have the resolve to do what is necessary to win. I think that is more of a crime than choosing to go to war for questionable reasons. The justification of wars can always be debated. But there is no justification for asking or forcing people to die or be maimed for life for no reason.

We need to confront the threat of ISIS (and other such groups). Military strikes might not be the answer or only part of the answer. We need to go after the economies or economic entities or people who support our enemies.

But again, as to military action, we need to have the resolve to fight to win. If we can get by with a limited response, well good. But we have to be willing and able to be in for the long haul.

P.s.

And whatever action we take it should be in our own interest. I mean we lead the free world, but we always have to look out for ourselves first.

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The remaking of an ex-president…

May 5, 2010

I was reading an article that noted those who write novels that take place in the past or who do memoirs depend upon the passage of time. It would be hard to make sense of things in real time, but over the years thoughts coalesce and perspective changes.

And then in the same day I watch Laura Bush on Oprah hawking her new book. I don’t think she needs the money, but she is doing her best to lay the ground work for a Bush legacy.

And there was the charming and gracious and even a bit modest Laura Bush and then the twin Bush daughters, once portrayed in the popular media as wild out-of-control college girls (girls just want to have fun), now two rich girls who are dedicating their lives to do good.

And the one daughter, the one who looks just like her daddy (well if her daddy was a young girl), makes the case, one she said was made to the Obama girls in a letter by her and her twin sister, that those who criticize the president (be he George W. or Barack) don’t know the real man who is a father and who is lovable.

And while I don’t think they (the Bushes) are particularly bad people (I do not really know), I come away almost thinking, gosh how could I or anyone else not love em. They’re so all-American — rich, never have to do real work or even fix their own meals, any of them, but lovable nonetheless.

I almost feel ashamed for every doubting them.

But I also recall my folks telling me that when Harry S Truman was president (I was only a few years old at the time), one heck of a lot of people did not like him. But a couple decades after he left office he becomes a folk hero — “the buck stops here” and “give em Hell Harry” and so on. He was a Democrat, but for some reason Republicans often use his name favorably, vowing to act the way he would.

So now the project to create a folk hero out of George W. Bush has begun. Laura has her book in the stores now and George is working on one (probably has to have Laura look up the big words).

P.s.

Actually in that article about waiting for the passage of time, a novelist had apparently written about the past when it was the present. It was about the writings of the late Irene Nemirovsky, who died in a Nazi concentration camp. He writings, found by family in a journal, were published a few years ago in a book called “Suite Francaise”. (The reference I read to the book was in the May 3 Roger Cohen column in the New York Times.)