A Fool’s Errand!

george hw bush strike group
 USS George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Force

 Is Barack about to Repeat Bush’s Folly?

Amid cries from media talking heads and some members of Congress to “do something” in order to save Iraq from falling under the control of Islamic Jihadists, President Obama has ordered the USS George H. W. Bush carrier strike group to the region.  The fleet is anchoring in a position that is within striking distance of Iraq by the planes and missiles with which the carrier is armed.  Witnessing this turn of events the thoughtful observer who is paying attention to developments in Iraq, particularly the rise of ISIS Jihadist, is forced to wonder just what is going on.

At the root of our government’s response is the deeply held belief by many Americans that the US President should be able to impose his will on the world.  This explains why even those Americans who tell pollsters that they are tired of war, and don’t want to see their country embarking on yet another foreign war, still blame President Obama for not being able to control events in volatile hot spots across the globe.  However President Obama knows that he is in the same situation as Abe Lincoln when, referring to the outbreak of the American Civil War, Lincoln said “clearly I have not controlled events, but events have controlled me.”

If President Lincoln couldn’t prevent a Civil War on US soil, where white Christian brothers slaughtered each other in what was then the bloodiest war in history, how is President Obama supposed to stop a civil/religious war among Muslims thousands of miles away that has been raging for 1800 years?  The neo-con militarist and assorted chicken hawks assure us that we can accomplish our objectives with airpower.

Although I am a former member of the United States Strategic Air Command, the greatest bomber fleet ever assembled, I agree with Colin Powell, an Army General, that proponents of air power always make claims they cannot keep.  And I have no doubt the idea that the Iraqi insurgents can be defeated with bombing strikes will prove a bogus claim.

How can I speak with such certainty in this matter you wonder?   Well, one does not have to be a mental colossus in order to figure it out.  During my stay in SAC I learned a lot about what bombing can do; I also learned what it can’t do. And bombs cannot distinguish innocent civilians from the Jihadists.

Alas it is indisputable fact that one of the main things which turned the populace against the US in Iraq and Afghanistan is the killing of innocent civilians due to “friendly America fire.”  Most often this takes the form of bombs gone awry, missing their targets and slaughtering innocent souls.  Hence it is a no brainer to figure out that more bombing, and the “collateral damage” of more dead civilians, will not win friends and influence Iraqi’s to love America.

I am convinced that to resume bombing of Iraq is the essence of “folly” as defined by the Pulitzer Prize winning historian Barbara Tuchman in her path breaking book “The March of Folly.”  It is, I think, an omen of some sort that I should be writing the same kind of critical arguments on what appears to be the second invasion of Iraq – albeit solely with air power this time – as I published on the eve of the first invasion.  Then I pointed out that George Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was dangerous folly because all of the objective evidence suggested it would prove contrary to American National Security interests.  (See: “The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq”)

Now I am compelled to raise my voice in a warning to President Obama: bombing Iraq will not stop the Jihadists!  But it will produce more anti-American zealots among the population.  This is not a matter of conjecture, all we need do is analyze the consequences of the Bush invasion, where bombs were deployed promiscuously.  Most Americans have forgotten now, being a nation of folks who suffer with historical amnesia, but the invasion of Iraq began with a massive bombing attack code named “Shock and Awe.” 

It was a spectacular display of American airpower broadcast in real time on television, I called it “March Madness;” it was supposed to frighten the Iraqi resistance into surrender.  It didn’t.  Hence we now find ourselves a decade later still trying to disengage from that little desert country after a massive expenditure of blood and treasure has left us with more enemies than friends.

This explains why despite the increasingly hysterical cries from elements in the media and Congress to “do something,” Barack Obama must not repeat Bush’s Folly with a massive bombardment of Iraq again….that would be a fool’s errand indeed!

Fighter Planes on the Flight Deck of Carrier

aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean.

Making more enemies in Iraq?

 

Playthell G, Benjamin
San Francisco, CA
June 16, 2014

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