Senator John McCain, who has never seen a war or a conflict that he
does not think the United States should not fight, appeared on MSNC's
"Morning Joe" today. Not surprisingly, he excoriated President Obama and
called upon him to fire his entire national security team.
McCain claimed that the U.S. had won the war in Iraq, but was now
losing the very war that he claimed we had won because the U.S. refused
to garrison a residual force in that country. McCain also warned that the scheduled U.S.withdrawal from Afghanistan would engender the same chaos there.
from McCain's incoherent narrative was any glint of recollection that
it was he and the other hawks who endorsed Bush II's ill-fated invasion
of that country or that it was Prime Minister Maliki - and not President
Obama - who forced the precipitous withdrawal of all American troops
because the Iraqi government refused to agree to a new status of forces
agreement that would have protected American soldiers against
prosecution under Iraqi laws. Apparently, the good senator believes that
the U.S. should have refused to exit from that country, even if it
meant that the U.S. became an occupying army.
Not to be outdone, New York Times columnist David Brooks has now returned to his "neo-con" roots. Brooks, who was an original cheerleader for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, wrote in his Weekly Standard column
on March 24, 2003 that "The president has remained resolute. Momentum
to liberate Iraq continues to build. The situation has clarified, and
history will allow clear judgments about which leaders and which
institutions were up to the challenge posed by Saddam and which were
an op ed column last week ("The Big Burn The Sunni-Shiite Conflict Explodes
in Iraq") Brooks notes "When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, it
effectively destroyed the Iraqi government. Slowly
learning from that mistake, the U.S. spent the next eight years in a
costly round of state-building." According to Brooks, by 2011 the Iraqi
Army was performing better and "American diplomats rode herd on Prime
Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to restrain his sectarian impulses.
American generals would threaten to physically block Iraq troop
movements if Maliki ordered any action that seemed likely to polarize
precisely who was responsible for this country's present failure to
restrain Maliki's sectarian impulses? The answer is obvious. Brooks
opines that "We'll never know if all this effort and progress could
have led to a self-sustaining, stable Iraq. Before the country was close
to ready, the Obama administration took off the training wheels by not
seriously negotiating the NATO status of forces agreement that would
have maintained some smaller American presence."
In contrast to Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham, whom Brooks
praises for their prescience, "President Obama adopted a cautious
posture, arguing that the biggest harm to the nation comes when the U.S.
overreaches. American power retrenched. The American people, on both
left and right, decided they could hide from the world."
McCain, Brooks and the gaggle of other discredited war-hawks who are now once again rearing their bellicose beaks inhabit a bizarre political world that can only be described as schizophrenic. As "conservatives" they fervently insist that the role of government in domestic affairs should be restrained. While advocating tax cuts and other welfare and incentives that solely benefit the 1%, they counsel against any policy initiatives that would address pressing domestic issues, such as growing economic inequality and joblessness, argue the virtues of limited government, and incessantly warn against the dangers of an "over-reaching" activist government.
By contrast, foreign policy seems to be an entirely different matter.
McCain, Brooks and others of their persuasion seem to subscribe
wholeheartedly to the myth of American omnipotence. In their view of the
world beyond this country's borders, there are no limits to the
projection of American military power, and if events turn out badly, it
is solely because the occupant in the White House was incapable of
controlling the outcome.
Absent from their analysis is any inkling that countries and civil societies evolve over time, that they are primarily responsible for own destinies, and that the process is often painful and messy.
Long become the U.S. became involved in a precipitous war in
Iraq, the French and the British had already made a mess of that entire
region. Thereafter, Bush I and Rumsfeld and Cheney stoked the fires of
instability when they supported Saddam Hussein with billions of dollars
in weapons and aide in his war against Iran in the 1980s. And
millennia before the U.S. became involved in Afghanistan, neither
Alexander the Great nor later, all of Rome's legions could subdue the
marauding tribes and fratricidal strife in that geographic region.
Equally inexcusable, these armchair generals are utterly oblivious to the trillions of dollars of American treasure that was expended in this country's two ill-fated adventures, the military and civilian death toll, and the enormous physical and psychological toll that the men and women who have served in this country's all volunteer military have had to bear.
Von Clausewitz observed that "war is the extension of politics by other
means." Wars and military excursions should always be the option of
last resort. American interests would be far better served through
forging multinational efforts, as Zbigniew Brzezinski has recommended,
with Iran and Turkey.
Ill-considered U.S. policies have engendered enormous antipathy throughout the Middle East. For that reason, it would be wise to reduce our footprint there. A reckless, reflexive, "go-it- alone-cowboy policy" as urged by McCain, Brooks and the other foreign policy hawks will only serve to make matters worse.
Given their own abysmal track records, Senator McCain and David Brooks should at least have the common decency to shut-up.