BY ERIC S. MARGOLIS
20 August 2006
PRESIDENT George W. Bush likes to call himself ‘the war president’ and strike martial poses. In spite of Iraq and other misfortunes, many Americans still regard the Bush Administration with approval and trust when it comes to national security.
They should not. To date, the war president’ has involved the US in four lost wars. Five years after Bush ordered Afghanistan invaded and proclaimed total victory’ there, US and allied forces are fighting a losing war against numerous Afghan resistance groups. US-ruled Afghan now produces 80 per cent of the world’s heroin. The US just quietly deployed thousands more troops to Afghanistan to hunt Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri in a desperate attempt to save Republicans from heavy losses in November mid-term elections.
Remember Mission accomplished!’ in Iraq? President Bush’s war in Iraq is clearly lost, but few dare admit it. The US has spent $300 billion on Afghanistan and Iraq, with nothing to show but bloody chaos, civil war, body bags, growing Iranian influence there and growing hatred of America everywhere by way of results. The Bush/Cheney liberation’ of Iraq has now cost more than the Vietnam War.
Off in the Horn of Africa, fiasco III is unfolding. The White House had CIA and Pentagon spend tens of millions bribing Somali warlords to fight Islamist reformers trying to bring law and order to their strife-ravaged nation. The Islamists whipped CIA-backed warlords and ran them out of Somalia. Following this defeat, the US has encouraged and financed ally Ethiopia shades of Lebanon to invade Somalia, thus raising the threat of a wider war between Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.
Lebanon is, of course, the fourth major American military disaster. Bush and Cheney egged Israel on into the hugely destructive but militarily fruitless war in Lebanon as the first part of their long nurtured plan to militarily crush Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. The US thwarted world efforts to halt the conflict.
To Washington and London’s shock and awe, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria have emerged the war’s victors. Hezbollah is now the Muslim world’s new hero after battling Israel’s mighty armed forces to a humiliating draw.
Hezbollah’s victory put a sudden end to Bush and Cheney’s planned crusade. The US and Israel have become so used to smashing nearly helpless foes armed with obsolete weapons like Iraq or Palestine that they were stunned to meet a force that had modern arms and could actually fight.
No sooner had bombing stopped than Hezbollah bulldozers were busy clearing rubble, and Hezbollah social workers resettling refugees. Perhaps President Bush should ask Hezbollah to take over rebuilding New Orleans and resettling all its refugees.
Israelis have now turned from fighting Arabs to furious finger pointing. Politicians and generals are blaming each other for the Lebanon debacle that killed 118 Israeli soldiers and 41 civilians, cost at least $1 billion, ruined the summer tourist trade, and, after a burst of initial sympathy, brought worldwide condemnation. And no captured soldiers this war’s supposed objectives have been yet returned.
Still, a swap of Israeli for Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners remains likely, as this column predicted at war’s beginning. The killing of 1,000 Lebanese civilians, a million Lebanese made refugees, and billions of dollars of wanton destruction, could all have been avoided.
By turning a routine border skirmish into a big war, Israel’s PM Ehud Olmert showed he had no more grasp of military affairs than those other amateur warlords, Bush, Cheney and Tony Blair. Lebanon also showed that the Western leaders learned nothing from their debacle in Iraq.
Now, some Washington hawks are wondering if invading Iran may not be the cakewalk’ that pro-Israel neocons promise. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards helped train and arm Hezbollah’s victorious fighters. Suddenly, neither the Israelis nor the Americans look so invincible. As Napoleon said, in war, the moral is to the physical as three to one. America was the big loser in the Lebanon war. From Morocco to Indonesia, each night 1.5 billion Muslims watched the carnage in Lebanon on TV and blamed America. Even the poorest shepherd in Uzbekistan heard the US was airlifting the precision bombs and deadly cluster munitions to Israel used against Lebanese civilians.
Any hope of damping down the Islamic world’s surging hatred of the US, Britain, Australia and Israel (now add Canada) was killed in Lebanon. Even the interestingly timed airport hysteria in London over claims of liquid bomb plots failed to divert attention from the latest US-British Mideast policy disaster.
Yet the White House still keeps listening to absurd military advice from the same neocons thirsting for conquest, oil and Muslim blood. One wonders when Americans are finally going to awaken to the fact that their war president has led them into nothing but defeats.