The Right War in the
, But Not for the Reason You Think
By Alan Caruba
There’s a saying among journalists. “If your
Mother says she loves you, check it out.” It’s a way of training
rookies to be skeptical of what anyone has to say for public consumption
and, in particular, politicians.
It is an article of faith among journalists (and many
others) that the government is not likely to be telling the truth for a
whole host of reasons, quite a few of which often make very good sense.
After 9-11, the job of the White House was to keep Americans calm while,
in reality, they discovered they had virtually no actionable intelligence
about who had attacked us and, more importantly, whether they would again.
It turns out that the objective of al Qaeda was to
to launch a military invasion, to draw the
into a confrontation that, on paper, looked one-sided. We had lots of
planes, tanks, ships; a mighty arsenal. Al Qaeda, however, was a
deliberately amorphous, impossible to predict, relatively small group of
people. They are motivated to overthrow the “Crusaders”, the sheiks
who cooperated with them, and then establish a new Caliphate in which
Islam would regain its former power.
The White House might not have known too much about
al Qaeda, but it knew where its base of operations was;
. What we did was rent an army, the
of warlords, to overthrow the Taliban with whom al Qaeda was allied.
Finally, in Tora Bora, we made a great show of bombing al Qaeda’s
forces, but the truth was that the caves and tunnels there were a superb
redoubt in which to survive. When the bombing stopped, al Qaeda operatives
just disappeared into areas of
where even that government exercised little power or across the border
While Sen. John Kerry runs about calling for a
renewed effort to find al Qaeda and calling the war in
a mistake, he is either the most cynical politician since Aaron Burr or he
is too stupid to be walked without a leash. Anyone in
with any access to intelligence knows that, until Muslim nations (and
others around the world) decided to cast their lot with us, few inside the
Beltway had much of a clue where al Qaeda is, who al Qaeda is, or what al
Qaeda plans to do next.
That has changed. Al Qaeda’s leaders and funding
are being pursued and much damage has been done. The key factor to keep in
mind is that the anticipated uprising of the “Arab street” never
What we do know is that al Qaeda’s creators and
those running it are very, very smart. That said, since they now pose a
threat to every nation on earth, whatever mistakes any of them make will
prove fatal. The notion that the
should be dispatching more troops to chase up and down the hills of
looking for them is just so idiotic that someone should be chasing Sen.
Kerry with a big net. What
needs is a stable government and an economy that connects to the world,
offering it something more than heroin.
Which leaves the question of what the hell are we
? And is it a good idea, given the amount of national treasure being spent
and the loss of some very brave soldiers? Let’s get one thing out of the
way. There were no WMDs and that was NOT the real reason we invaded
The real reason is brilliantly spelled out by George
Friedman, the founder of Stratfor, a private company providing some of the
best intelligence analysis found anywhere outside of the CIA. (Maybe even
better than the CIA.) His new book, America’s Secret War: Inside the
Hidden Worldwide Struggle Between America and its Enemies ($35.95,
Doubleday) tells you what occurred in the White House, the Department of
Defense, the State Department, the CIA and everywhere else in the world
that had an interest in American succeeding or failing. If you read no
other book this year, read this one.
The real reason is also both complex and nuanced. One
does not go to war frivolously, but neither do you have to be the
President, a four-star General or a Ph.D. in global affairs to figure out
why we’re in
. All you have to do is look at a map.
is the single most strategic nation in the
As Friedman notes, “It borders on six other
. In other words, from Iraq—and with its forces in Afghanistan—the
United States could influence events in countries that ranged from the
Himalayas to the Mediterranean and from the Black Sea and the Caucuses to
the Red and Arabian Seas. Like its predecessor
is the pivot of the
Apparently, Sen. Kerry hasn’t looked at a map lately
because he is fixated on our retreat from a position of power that will,
in time, greatly reduce the threats that bubble beneath the surface
and get exported from there.
Now, keep this in mind. We did not attack al Qaeda, a
movement with broad support among the 1.2 billion Muslims spread
and around the world. Muslims are in Europe, in South America, in Africa,
. There are nearly two million here in the
. Al Qaeda attacked us. Among those who were not entirely displeased to
see that occur were
. These nations and a host of others have their own agenda and an American
empire or hegemony is not one of them.
We are in
because the general view throughout the Middle East was that the
United States of America
lacked the guts to wage and win a war. If we can bring an end to the
guerrilla war in
, maneuvering, i.e., buying our way through the often-shifting alliances
of Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and even
, we will have proved them wrong.
Once a new government in Iraq is secure, functioning,
and friendly to the US for having liberated it from three decades of
horrific despotism, America's military bases will allow it, as Friedman
notes, to "dominate the area between the Mediterranean and the Hindu
Kush; it would control the pivot of Eurasia. This, along with absolute
control of the seas, would give the United States a global empire that was
unprecedented in history." The
irony is, America has never wanted to be an empire or an occupier.
So, on November 2, when you vote, you can choose to
give up the one defense we really have, the ability to “encourage”
other nations to help track down and kill the individual members of al
Qaeda, and to do so in their backyard, or to leave our future to the
tender mercies of a shadowy organization that wants to kill every last one
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning
Signs”, posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center (www.anxietycenter.com).
© Alan Caruba 2004