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Supporters of the ongoing Bush-Obama wars have often said that one of the reasons the United States needed to attack Afghanistan and Iraq (and now Libya and Yemen and Somalia) is because failing to do so would exhibit weakness and encourage our enemies.
Now that the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is into its 10th year, intrepid supporters of the American empire are claiming that American troops must continue to occupy Afghanistan (and Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia) because the post-withdrawal collapse of the indigenous forces presently being propped up by the U.S. military will exhibit weakness and encourage our enemies.
These childish arguments reveal that the bellicose neocons who have been pushing foreign military adventures for more than a decade are not only chicken hawks innocent of any military service, but also know nothing about military history or the military aspects of geostrategy.
In the schoolyard, it is not the slow-witted boy who lashes out with his fists at every possible provocation, no matter how petty, who is feared. It is, rather, the one who wins every fight in which he engages in rapid and brutal fashion. As with children, so with nations.
The martial success of 2001 in Afghanistan was only impressive in that it was largely accomplished at relatively little cost in men and money. It was the invasion and rapid defeat of Iraq in 2003 that made a very big impression on the world, a flexing of military speed and muscle that was daunting indeed, even in light of Hussein’s defeat in the Gulf War 13 years before. At the time, only a few observers, most notably the epically cynical John Derbyshire, recognized that with rapid defeat of the Iraqi army and the hanging of Hussein, the United States military had already accomplished as much as it possibly could. It had gone in, it had broken things and killed people, and it should have gotten out in 2004.
But instead of rightly declaring victory over Saddam Hussein’s corpse and coming home, the Bush administration decided to embark upon a new campaign of “winning hearts and minds.” All it has accomplished, of course, is to demonstrate how woefully ineffective the U.S. military is once it is forced to fight a foe who is not willing to play fair according to the Western way of war and line up its forces on the battlefield as if combat were nothing more than a lethal sporting event. The inability to defeat enemy forces in Afghanistan (and Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia) since 2004 has already done precisely – and predictably – what the supporters of the various kinetic conflicts claim that withdrawal does.
Consider the evidence. Is there any sign that America’s most likely foes have become more inclined to prepare for war in recent years?
With Prime Minister Erdogan’s Islamist AK party having seized its third landslide election victory in Turkey, many throughout the international community have been watching to see what will be next on the Turkish agenda. Now there are strong indicators in the Turkish media that Turkey is planning on literally doubling the size of its army – this coming from the nation that already has the largest army in Middle East and the second-largest army in NATO, second only to the United States. Presently, Turkey’s army has over 500,000 troops. Its army is larger than France, Germany and England combined. And now Turkish media are reporting that they are planning on adding another 500,000 paid soldiers.
– Joel Richardson, WorldNetDaily, July 5, 2011
“‘In the month of Bahman (Jan. 21-Feb. 19) two missiles with a range of 1,900 km (1,180 miles) were fired from Semnan province (in northern Iran) into the mouth of the Indian Ocean,’ Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division, told a news conference some of which was shown on television. Iran usually tests its missiles in extensive deserts in the heart of the country, so the firing into the Indian Ocean is an unusual move, aimed to prove Tehran’s longstanding claims it can hit targets beyond its borders.”
– Reuters, July 9, 2011
“A top Chinese official for the first time revealed that the growing Chinese military will soon launch its first aircraft carrier. ‘An aircraft carrier has been under construction, but has not been completed,’ China’s Defense Minister Chen Bingde told a Hong Kong newspaper Tuesday in a rare admission for the secretive Chinese government. … In May, a report out of a Washington, D.C., think tank predicted a new stealth fighter, secretly developed by the Chinese and rarely seen, could be the first to legitimately challenge U.S. stealth fighters in air dominance.”
– ABC News, June 9, 2011
These are not the actions of enemy nations that have been cowed into submission by the fearsome and effective performance of the U.S. military. They are the actions of ambitious and increasingly confident nations that sense the weakness that is intrinsic in exhaustion, overstretch and strategic ineptitude. The leaders and generals of Turkey, Iran and China clearly recognize what neither American citizens nor American politicians do: The strength and the capabilities of the U.S. military depend upon American wealth and American will, both of which are now completely overdrawn after a decade filled with a series of pointless and ineffective wars whose only relation to the national interest is a negative one.