TAMPA, August 28, 2013 — “And now we’re back where we started. Here we go round again. Day after day I get up and I say I better do it again.”
Apparently, Ray Davies’ lyric has become the U.S. government’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, they’ve added a line to the chorus that Davies left out: Make sure you learn absolutely nothing from the day before.
After twelve years of war, hundreds of thousands of U.S. and foreign civilian casualties and trillions in debt, the U.S. has accomplished nothing in the Middle East. They haven’t eradicated the Taliban or Al Qaeda. There has not been a single regime change favorable to U.S. interests. Americans are not freer. They are less free than they have ever been in U.S. history.
The Obama administration’s response? Do it again.
It’s hard to imagine anyone who does not have a strong sense of déjà vu this morning, as officials from the president on down gear up for a missile strike against Syria. The U.S. and U.K. governments have both issued statements that they have “no doubt” that the Assad government used chemical weapons against rebel forces and civilians. But U.N. inspectors have not concluded their investigation and have issued no such statement confirming anything.
The Assad government denies use of chemical weapons.
If the U.N. inspectors do conclude that chemical weapons were used, there is still reasonable doubt about who used them. There are suspicions that the rebels may have actually deployed the chemical weapons in an attempt to frame the Assad government and persuade the U.S. to enter the war.
In 2003, the Bush administration emphatically warned of the imminent threat that the Saddam Hussein Iraqi government posed to the U.S. and the rest of world. Images of mushroom clouds over U.S. cities were invoked, with the administration making the absurd claim that Hussein could strike the U.S. within 45 minutes.
No such capabilities existed. After the U.S. had invaded the country, destroyed its infrastructure, displaced over two million refugees and set the stage for an Islamic government friendly to Iran to replace the previous secular one which was hostile towards Iran, it admitted that the “WMD” didn’t exist.
The entire eight year debacle accomplished nothing. Zero. Nada.
Now, even the man who wrote up the plan for missile strikes against Syria says that those strikes won’t accomplish anything.
“Tactical actions in the absence of strategic objectives is usually pointless and often counterproductive. I never intended my analysis of a cruise missile strike option to be advocacy even though some people took it as that,” said Chris Harmer, the senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who wrote up a plan for missile strikes.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been warning for months that intervention in Syria will accomplish nothing favorable to U.S. interests. He’s gone so far as to say that even if the rebels were to win, they would not likely be friendly toward the U.S. government.
There are no “good guys and bad guys” in this struggle. On one side you have an oppressive dictatorship with strong ties to Russia. On the other you have a fundamentalist Islamic coalition of rebels with many different factions, including one that just took a pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri.
These are the “freedom fighters” the Obama administration has been backing.
In Afghanistan, the “security forces” that U.S. soldiers are training to supposedly enforce the rule of law and democratic government after the U.S. leaves occasionally kill their trainers. They are restrained only by their own officers who remind them of the weapons the U.S. is supplying them.
This is what thousands of American casualties and trillions of dollars in new debt has bought us. That’s not to mention the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of new terrorists that U.S. intervention has created. Every drone strike against a terrorist leader results in innocent civilian deaths. Fathers, brothers or sons of the dead then dedicate their lives to war against the U.S.
Every bomb launched against Syria will be purchased with borrowed money. Each one will take innocent lives and create new terrorists. According to anyone with any expertise, it will accomplish nothing, although the stated goal is to oust the Assad government and replace it with a fundamentalist Islamic government that is even more hostile towards the United States.
The U.S. just did that in Egypt. It did the same in Iraq. The Taliban is now negotiating with the U.S. and others for an end to the war in Afghanistan, where they may very well return to power.
Einstein is credited with defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
James Madison said that no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. We haven’t. In the past twelve years, we’ve built a frightening police state, turned federal government surpluses into $12 trillion in public debt and accomplished nothing in the Middle East or against terrorism in general.
Let’s not do it again.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.