Leon Panetta, the long-time Democratic Party operative who served as Obama’s Defense Secretary and CIA Director, said this week of Obama’s new bombing campaign: “I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war.” Only in America are new 30-year wars spoken of so casually, the way other countries speak of weather changes. He added that the war “will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.” And elsewhere: not just a new decades-long war with no temporal limits, but no geographic ones either. He criticized Obama – who has bombed 7 predominantly Muslim countries plus the Muslim minority in the Phillipines (almost double the number of countries Bush bombed) – for being insufficiently militaristic, despite the fact that Obama officials themselves have already instructed the public to think of The New War “in terms of years.”If you look hard and know what to look for, you can detect "libertarian" elements in Glenn's article. But the analysis is basically spot on. We do have a state of permanent war.
Then we have Hillary Clinton (whom Panetta gushed would make a “great” president). At an event in Ottawa yesterday, she proclaimed that the fight against these “militants” will “be a long-term struggle” that should entail an “information war” as “well as an air war.” The new war, she said, is “essential” and the U.S. shies away from fighting it “at our peril.” Like Panetta (and most establishment Republicans), Clinton made clear in her book that virtually all of her disagreements with Obama’s foreign policy were the by-product of her view of Obama as insufficiently hawkish, militaristic and confrontational.
At this point, it is literally inconceivable to imagine the U.S. not at war. It would be shocking if that happened in our lifetime. U.S. officials are now all but openly saying this. “Endless War” is not dramatic rhetorical license but a precise description of America’s foreign policy. my emphasis in bold]
Andrew Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (2010), writes about the Obama Non-War War chapter of the permanent war in Even if we defeat the Islamic State, we’ll still lose the bigger war Washington Post 10/03/2014. Bacevich, an historian and Catholic thinker heavily influenced by Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's outlook on foreign policy, applies his skeptical-minded view to the prospects of the war against IS:
... even as the United States persists in its determination to pacify the Greater Middle East, the final verdict is already in. U.S. military power has never offered an appropriate response to whatever ails the Islamic world. We’ve committed our troops to a fool’s errand.Bacevich does not have the history-begins-today limitation that seems to infect our star pundits:
And worse, the errand is also proving unnecessary. With abundant North American energy reserves now accessible — all that shale oil and fracked gas — we don’t need the Persian Gulf oil that ostensibly made our post-1980 military exertions imperative. For whatever reasons, Washington’s national security elites seem oblivious to the implications these resources have for policy in the Middle East.
No matter how long it lasts, America’s war for the Greater Middle East will end in failure. And when it does, Americans will discover that it was also superfluous.
As America’s efforts to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants extend into Syria, Iraq War III has seamlessly morphed into Greater Middle East Battlefield XIV. That is, Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that U.S. forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which American soldiers have killed or been killed. And that’s just since 1980.
Let’s tick them off: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. Whew. ...
We must hope for victory over the Islamic State. But even if achieved, that victory will not redeem but merely prolong a decades-long military undertaking that was flawed from the outset. When the 14th campaign runs its course, the 15th will no doubt be waiting, perhaps in Jordan or in a return visit to some unfinished battleground such as Libya or Somalia or Yemen.