Monday, August 21, 2006

amateur warlords

For a leader who styles himself "the war president," U.S. Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush's military record now stands at 0 for 4. Even Italy's born-again "imperial Roman conqueror," Benito Mussolini, fared better.



Fiasco I: Five years after Bush ordered Afghanistan invaded and proclaimed "total victory," U.S. and allied forces are fighting a losing war against Afghan resistance groups. Afghan heroin exports are up 90%. The U.S. just quietly deployed thousands more troops to Afghanistan to hunt Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri in a desperate attempt to save Republicans from getting clobbered in November midterm elections.

Fiasco II: "Mission accomplished" in Iraq. Bush's war in Iraq is clearly lost, but few dare admit it. The U.S. has spent $300 billion on Afghanistan and Iraq, with nothing to show but bloody chaos, deficits, body bags, and growing hatred of America. The Bush/Dick Cheney "liberation" of Iraq has now cost more than the Vietnam War.

Fiasco III: The White House had the 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 U.S. is now urging ally Ethiopia -- shades of Lebanon -- to invade Somalia, thus raising the threat of a wider war between Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Good work, Mr. President.

Fiasco IV: Bush and Vice President Cheney egged Israel into the hugely destructive but militarily fruitless war in Lebanon over the past month, in what many view as the first part of their long-nurtured plan to militarily crush Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. They did there best to thwart world efforts to halt the conflict.

To Washington and London's shock and awe, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria 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 the kibosh on the Bush/Cheney Holy Land crusade.

No sooner had bombing stopped last week than Hezbollah bulldozers were busy clearing rubble, and Hezbollah social workers resettling refugees. Perhaps Bush should ask Hezbollah to take over rebuilding New Orleans.

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 Israeli 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 -- the war's supposed objective -- have been yet returned.

Still, a swap of Israeli prisoners for Lebanese and Palestinian ones remains likely, as this column predicted at the war's beginning. The killing of 1,000 Lebanese civilians, a million Lebanese and Israelis made refugees, and billions in wanton destruction, could all have been avoided.

By turning a routine 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 British PM Tony Blair.

Even Washington hawks are wondering if invading Iran may not be such a cakewalk as they envision. Iran's Revolutionary Guards helped train and arm Hezbollah's fighters.

America was the big loser in the Lebanon war. From Morocco to Indonesia, each night some 1.5 billion Muslims watched the carnage in Lebanon on TV and most blamed America. Even the poorest shepherd in Uzbekistan heard that the U.S. was airlifting the precision bombs and deadly cluster munitions to Israel that wound up killing hundreds of Lebanese.

Any hope of damping down the Islamic world's surging hatred of the U.S., Britain, and Israel (and now Canada, thanks to the federal government's pro-Israel stance) 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 egregious U.S.-British Mideast policy disaster.

The "war president" has become the fiasco president. The White House should stop listening to bogus military advice from neocon couch commandos who thirst for Muslim blood, and start listening to experienced Pentagon officers who understand the meaning and cost of war.

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