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Thursday, February 19, 2004

 
The Greatest Strategic Blunder In Modern Memory

I get the impression from casual conversation and reading the papers that a lot of Americans understand that Junior lied to get us into Iraq, but they don't think it really hurt anything. In fact, since Saddam was a prick and it didn't really cost us much to take him out (well, except for the loss of life and the billions spent), it was a pretty good thing to do, on balance. Kicking a little butt after 9/11 probably sent a message we needed to send.

The problem with this is that they don't understand what a huge error in judgment the Iraq operation was in terms of our long term security and readiness. Nor do they understand the extent to which we damaged our alliances and how dangerous it was to blow our credibility at a time like this.

This post by Nick Confessore on TAPPED goes to the heart of what must become the Democratic critique of the Preznit's calamity of a foreign policy if we hope to educate the public and permanently tear Junior loose from his absurd image as a "trustworthy" Commander in Chief in the WOT.

First, Confessore quotes James Webb, secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration, writing in USA Today:

Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target. While he boasts of removing Saddam Hussein from power, he did far more than that. He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace. Our military is being forced to trade away its maneuverability in the wider war against terrorism while being placed on the defensive in a single country that never will fully accept its presence.

There is no historical precedent for taking such action when our country was not being directly threatened. The reckless course that Bush and his advisers have set will affect the economic and military energy of our nation for decades. It is only the tactical competence of our military that, to this point, has protected him from the harsh judgment that he deserves.


Confessore goes on to excerpt a portion of James Fallows' truly frightening account of our "hollow army."

However, there is even more to it than that. Wes Clark and others made the argument some time ago that Iraq was a distraction from the real threat and it has been said by many that the invasion would lead to more recruitment of terrorists. And, there have been other discussions about the effects of a stretched thin military of reserves and national guard troops. But, I haven't heard any talk about what an enormous amount of damage has been done by the conscious exposure of our intelligence services as paper tigers.

Regardless of whether they hyped, sexed up or pimped out the intelligence on Iraq, the fact is that by invading Iraq the way we did and being proved complete asses now that no WMD have been discovered, one of our best defenses has been completely destroyed. It may have always been nothing but a pretense that we had hi-tech, super duper satellites with x-ray vision and all-knowing eavesdropping devices that can hear a pin drop half a world away but it was a very useful pretense. Nobody knew exactly what we were capable of. Now they do. It appears to everyone on the planet that our vaunted intelligence services couldn't find water even if they fell off of a fucking aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

It's this kind of thing that makes really crazy wackos like Kim Jong Il make mistakes. When a hugely powerful country like the United States proves to the entire world that it is not as powerful as everyone thought, petty tyrants and ambitious generals tend to get excited. This is why mighty nations should never fight wars unless they absolutely have to. It is always better to have enemies wonder whether they are as omnipotent as they appear. They should not risk proving otherwise unless they have no choice.

It is, therefore, in the national interest for the Democrats to lay this strategic blunder at the door of this administration as clearly and as forcefully as possible. We can only benefit by the world coming to believe, in no uncertain terms, that this war was fought in spite of what we knew, not because of what we didn't know. Bush and his neocon wet-dreamers need to take a very public fall for what they did, not just for justice but for national security. Nobody should allow the world's dangerous crackpots to believe that our institutions of the military and intelligence services have been tainted by this enormous error in judgment. It's too dangerous.





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