I was Drake’s Island over the last few days staying in a house that sits on the beach facing out into the broad Atlantic ocean. I mention this because recent news events have intersected with my staying there. At a time before this I woke up one morning, looked out toward the sea, and espied this huge object lurking there. It was the Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) sitting in the offing; a majestic sight. It was then engaging in a little bit of frivolity by bringing its namesake on board from his home on Kennebunkport for a visit. That carrier within days will cruise off the shores of Iraq bringing us back into active combat there.
The house adjacent to the one I was staying in has a recently installed flagpole and a plaque at the edge of its property next to the seawall. The plaque is inscribed in memory of Glen Doherty. the Navy Seal from Winchester, MA, who was killed in the attack on Benghazi. The owners of the cottage are men who grew up with him. One I believe served in the Seals with him. They fly the Stars and Stripes in his memory whenever they are there.
Relaxing in Maine with friends I was reminded of our ever ongoing involvement in the quagmire of the Middle East. I wonder if anyone has asked how we plan to get out of Iraq if we get back in. it is clear we plan to insert our Special Operations forces into there to defend those who refuse to defend themselves. The latter situation will attain for all time. Now are we committed to be there forever?
Seeing that our military trainers were unable to train an Iraqi army to stand and fight after ten years and ten billion dollars do we have any hope they will ever be able to accomplish this? And does this also mean that we must stay forever in Afghanistan whose forces we have also trained but who we know in our hearts will run before the Taliban as pollen does the wind. Are we a nation with a Grand Strategy or do we fly fly by the seat of our pants being subject to the whims of any despot?
As Special Operations forces go in, others have come out of the Benghazi area having seized Ahmed Abu Khattala who has been indicted for being involved in the attack that killed Doherty and three other Americans. I will write about that tomorrow. Now I stay with Iraq.
For the last 25 years Obama and his predecessors (Bush, Clinton and Bush) have failed to come up with a coherent foreign policy. With the fall of the Soviet Union we went into neutral and drifted. Our presidents have been average men who surrounded themselves with average men more concerned with the frills of office or the thrills of politics than the hard parts involved in establishing a bipartisan road map. We lurch from crisis to crisis with no plan.
Maybe it’s the nature of the job today to be holding parties, attending fund raisers, meeting celebrities and winning teams, and flitting from one place to another with no time for study and reflection. How long will it be before we see some entering a dancing contest? None has taken the time to come up with a Grand Strategy.
It is not Obama’s fault that we invaded and lost over 4,000 troops in Iraq, a country where the Ming Ling Doctrine told us we never should have entered. Nor did Obama plan and create that ludicrous embassy that sits in the middle of Baghdad (the world’s largest) staffed with over 5,000 Americans (What do they ever do? Certainly they provided no intelligence that the ISIS invasion was coming.) Nor did Obama set the time table for withdrawing our combat forces.
Obama did try to enter into a status of forces agreement with Iraq’s leader Maliki but was rebuffed. Maliki and his allies wanted us out of there. When we left he reached out to people more our enemies than friends, the mullahs of Iran and Bashar al-Assad of Syria, as his allies. He entered into 5 billion dollar deals for arms from Russia.
Now under threat of the ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) he wants us back, Inexplicably Obama is complying with Maliki’s wish. Urged on by those who got us involved in Iraq in the first instance he is putting us back into the fray. Like with his foolhardy plan to fire cruise missiles at Syria, he is now going off half-cocked.
We need him to stop walking in the footsteps of his predecessors. We need him to come up with a Grand Strategy. But first, and right now, we need to hear from him what are his plans. Are we doing this to save Maliki our foe? To protect the oil companies? Whatever the reason he must tell us what is the purpose of this new war and what will be the end result?