The failure of Bush policy
Excerpts from Andrew Bacevich at TomDispatch.com, via Salon [corrections of The Pissant’s title my own, not Bacevich’s]:
The events of the past seven years have yielded a definitive judgment on the strategy that the Bush administration conceived in the wake of 9/11 to wage its so-called global war on terror. That strategy has failed, massively and irrevocably. To acknowledge that failure is to confront an urgent national priority: to scrap the Bush approach in favor of a new national security strategy that is realistic and sustainable—a task that, alas, neither of the presidential candidates seems able to recognize or willing to take up.
On Sept. 30, 2001, Pissant Bush received from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld a memorandum outlining U.S. objectives in the war on terror. Drafted by Rumsfeld’s chief strategist, Douglas Feith, the memo declared expansively: “If the war does not significantly change the world’s political map, the U.S. will not achieve its aim.” That aim, as Feith explained in a subsequent missive to his boss, was to “transform the Middle East and the broader world of Islam generally.”
When it came to implementation, the imperative of the moment was to think big. Just days after 9/11, Rumsfeld was charging his subordinates to devise a plan of action that had “three, four, five moves behind it.” By December 2001, the Pentagon had persuaded itself that the first move—into Afghanistan—had met success. The Bush administration wasted little time in pocketing its ostensible victory. Attention quickly shifted to the second move, seen by insiders as holding the key to ultimate success: Iraq.
Fix Iraq and moves three, four and five promised to come easily. Writing in the Weekly Standard, William Kristol and Robert Kagan got it exactly right: “The Pissant’s vision will, in the coming months, either be launched successfully in Iraq, or it will die in Iraq.”
The point cannot be emphasized too strongly: Saddam Hussein’s (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction and his (imaginary) ties to al-Qaida never constituted the real reason for invading Iraq—any more than the imperative of defending Russian “peacekeepers” in South Ossetia explains the Kremlin’s decision to invade Georgia.
Iraq merely offered a convenient place from which to launch a much larger and infinitely more ambitious project. [...]
In either case—whether the strategy of transformation aimed at dominion or democratization—today, seven years after it was conceived, we can assess exactly what it has produced. The answer is clear: next to nothing, apart from squandering vast resources and exacerbating the slide toward debt and dependency that poses a greater strategic threat to the United States than Osama bin Laden ever did.
In point of fact, hardly had the Pentagon commenced its second move, its invasion of Iraq, when the entire strategy began to unravel. In Iraq, Pissant’s vision of regional transformation did die, much as Kagan and Kristol had feared. [...]
John McCain says that he’ll keep U.S. combat troops in Iraq for as long as it takes…
The United States will not change the world’s political map in the ways top administration officials once dreamed of. There will be no earthquake that shakes up the Middle East—unless the growing clout of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas in recent years qualifies as that earthquake. Given the Pentagon’s existing commitments, there will be no threats of “you’re next,” either—at least none that will worry our adversaries, as the Russians have neatly demonstrated. Nor will there be a wave of democratic reform—even Rice has ceased her prattling on that score. Islam will remain stubbornly resistant to change, except on terms of its own choosing. We will not change the way “they” live.
In a book that he coauthored during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Kristol confidently declared, “The mission begins in Baghdad, but it does not end there.” In fact, the Bush administration’s strategy of transformation has ended. It has failed miserably. The sooner we face up to that failure, the sooner we can get about repairing the damage.