BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
If this writer could deliver only one message to our new president, he would pose tall in his most Reaganesque stance, muster his most authoritative actor’s voice with a tone of gravitas, and declare, “Mr. Obama: Get us out – now!”
While the economy has been the chief focus of the new administration, and for all America as well, the urgency of the need to get us out of the morass of foreign military entanglements is not being felt appropriately. Other than the blunders and greed of the capitalists, one must remember that another cause of our economic problems was the profligacy of the Bush Administration in waging its costly wars on credit while cutting tax income.
Those costly wars and resultant “nation-building” activities off budget got us into huge deficits and built a foreboding national debt. That national debt is now handicapping our effectiveness in managing the current economic crisis.
So, we say again: Get us out of all our foreign wars and military commitments abroad! Please do this now, not next year. Don’t listen to those who say we must stay in Iraq 18 months more, and especially do not listen to those military planning experts who say we may have to stay in Afghanistan through your two-term tenure in office.
Mr. Obama, please call in your military leaders and tell them they may have their choice of time to leave Iraq, but then limit them to three choices – this fall, next winter, and next spring. Please specify “no residual forces.” Just get us out!
Afghanistan is beginning to look like a black hole for consuming our substance and manpower. The proportion of us wanting out of there now has grown to 42%. Remember, that is how the proportions against the Iraq incursion grew – first a third, then a half, then two-thirds, and now 85%. The Afghanistan war will quickly become more and more unpopular.
Let us do a little recalling of historical events regarding Afghanistan. After a terrorist attack on embassies, President Clinton ordered missile strikes on Bin Laden’s base training camps, barely missing Osama himself by a few hours. After 9/11, when the Taliban refused to give Bin Laden over, with minimal ground forces we assisted rebel armies in attacking and chasing their leaders out. Afghan rebels did the heavy lifting. We had very few troops there, and mainly in an advisory capacity.
Remember, please that, we really had only one mission there, and that was to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda cronies. We seem to forget: We let Osama get away into Pakistan, where some Taliban leaders are also holed up. We have been inappropriately busy helping the Afghan people set up a government – rather than let them do their own.
And then our enemies broadened to include all the Taliban and sympathizers. There were sympathizers everywhere, but only a few Al Qaeda. We helped form the Karzai government, patterned after a model of our liking, and it has never had wide popularity. It has fallen further into disrepute as corrupt and ineffective.
Somewhere along the line it became our responsibility to enforce the Karzai government’s authority, and to battle against insurgents and the Taliban wherever they were. We are now perceived as an occupation force there, with all the resentment that term carries. Let us hope that we are not now putting more troops into Afghanistan for that purpose.
Mr. Obama, please refocus and then terminate our mission in Afghanistan. Make a genuine effort to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, then get out of there. Let the local people handle their own problems of government. We cannot afford nation-building, nor can we afford to police the world. There are terrorist cells everywhere.
If indeed the people of Iraq and/or the people of Afghanistan want some kind of radical Islamic governance, they will have that sooner or later. If they turn out to have cells in their midst that are a threat to us or the world, then we are capable of surgical strikes to punish and harass them. We cannot keep occupying armies around the world.
While it is easy to see that the United States does indeed need bases from which to service its fleet and to maintain air capabilities, these are normally negotiated with friendly countries. We do not seize such territory by force, nor do we maintain large land armies there.
We should be cautious about stationing armies in harm’s way in Korea and other trouble spots. Our 30,000 troops in Korea are not enough to resist an onslaught, but enough to get us into an all-out war if they are harmed.
Further, we should be careful about making treaty arrangements with foreign entities which require us to take up arms and come to their aid. By all means, we cannot make such agreements with former Soviet territories that are now independent. The people of America will not support going to war to protect Georgia, Ukraine, Latvia, or some other former Soviet province or satellite.
So, Mr. Obama, we suggest re-reading President Washington’s farewell address in which he urged us to beware of foreign alliances and entanglements. We strongly urge you to act with all expediency to get us out of wars in foreign lands in which we are now entangled.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer