If there’s one thing I would think most Americans could agree on is the need NOT to rush into another war in the Mideast…or anywhere else.After a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people are sick of endless war. The military is stressed out and needs a break. The two wars begun by President Bush were never paid for, and the price tag for both is well over a trillion dollars. At the very least, Bush should have asked Americans to share in the sacrifice and raised taxes. Instead, he did what no other American President has done in wartime-cut taxes. This is one part of the mess which led us to record debt.The other critical mistake, in Iraq especially, was the sheer ignorance of the Bush administration when it came to understanding the various factions kept from killing each other while Saddam Hussein was in charge. Uncorked, the Sunni’s and Shiities began killing each other in a civil war which continues to this day.As usual, when somebody in his administration who actually knew something about going to war tried to reason with the President, Bush ignored Colin Powell’s warning about owning the conflict should we go in. We broke it, we owned it, and then we went broke owning it.
Yes, we could help the rebel cause in Syria, but even there we have to be careful. Giving help, support and weapons to the rebels might work now, but what happens later if an Islamic regime comes into power which is unfriendly to the United States? In Iraq and elsewhere, our weapons fell into the hands of forces hostile to the America. We came to regret that later when it was too late. Yes, there may be a time when involvement is required, and I’m sure we have begun a slow process to help those (in Syria) we can at least, partially rely on. We may never be sure who ends up taking over Syria in the long run, but we do have interests there. Syria is friendly with Hezbollah and Iran, two entities we would just as soon replace. But we don’t have ultimate power and can never be sure of an outcome should we be become involved in yet another foreign adventure.
As President Obama discussed last week, we need to take another look at this war on terrorism. It doesn’t have to be this endless confrontation where we send in battalions of ground forces, begin nation building, and find ourselves in another endless quagmire. We can utilize drones, help with weapons, money and intelligence, but we must learn a lesson most thought Vietnam taught us: we’re not the world’s police squad and we need to be more careful where and when we get involved in another foreign conflict. The war against terrorism will go on forever in some sense because they’ll always be nations and forces wanting to bring harm to the biggest power in the neighborhood. By playing it smarter, we can help those who are generally interested in becoming a trusted member of the worldwide community, and vaporize those who are simply out to do harm. Placing ground troops across the planet is no way to gain friends. We can always help those in need, but we need a better approach as we settle into a new millennium where the stakes get costlier for mistakes made in battle.