You want to see revisionist history, just watch this 5:43 minute FOX News video of Senator John McCain bloviating on what we should do to “defeat” ISIS. For every foreign crisis, McCain’s answer is to send arms or American troops/trainers. McCain bashed the Obama administration for walking away from Libya after Qaddafi was executed, leaving a gaping power vacuum. But the “coalition” air campaign in Libya was sold by McCain and Madame Secretary Clinton based on a pack of lies and half-truths – there was no imminent humanitarian crisis. There also was no democratic political opposition waiting in the wings to turn Libya into some oasis of democracy. What was in Libya were violent Al Qaeda affiliates, many of whom traveled to Iraq to fight Americans and whom Qaddafi was cooperating with America on fighting. McCain met with Gadaffi ,a partner in the war on terror in 2009, but as soon as Secretary Clinton beat the war drums in 2011, he did an about face.
In Libya, as in every other American intervention since 9/11, we didn’t have any real follow-on plan, so John McCain is right there, but he skips the part that he was part and parcel of selling the air campaign to oust Gadaffi, which allowed these jihadists to capitalize on the power vacuum we helped create. He did not have any plan to offer for the aftermath – he never does! He can be counted on to get on TV and do this saber-rattling routine, “arm them, send trainers, we need boots on the ground, blah, blah, blah…” You can expect Lindsey Graham to follow-up the charges of President Obama doing nothing to defeat ISIS and angrily demand “action”.
Frankly, I’m sick of the misguided, reckless, foreign policy pontifications coming from top leadership in both parties. Secretary Clinton ratcheted up the Libya campaign based on a bunch of fear-mongering claptrap – not solid intelligence on the ground. Senator McCain hired the lying piece of O’Bagy- age after she got sacked from the Institute for the Study of War. Just who is Ms O’Bagy, former captain of the Egyptian women’s soccer team, self-professed Syrian expert, fake doctorate degree holder? We don’t know her background, just like we don’t know the background of Clinton sidekick, Huma Abedin. We now know Secretary Clinton had Sid Bluementhal providing her intelligence on her private email server, which raises question about the source of his intelligence, the vetting of that information and what role her private sources of intelligence played in her decisions. Senator McCain has Elizabeth O’Bagy to decipher the forces on the ground in Syria for him (Lord, help us all). In the White House, the President appears to have handed over the reins of power and the adult responsibility of making the tough decisions to Valerie Jarrett, while Ben Rhodes gets tossed talking points from which to concoct soap operatic “narratives”, which serve in the place of facts.
In Syria, Assad went from Hillary’s “reformer” and John Kerry’s “friend” to some madman butcher in Damascus. We’ve been regaled with demands to arm the “moderates” – ahem, in this brutal civil war, we’ve still got “experts” on that hunt for illusive moderates… That said, shut-up already about sending more troops, training Iraqi troops (who would suggest this crap after we dismantled Saddam’s army and spent years unsuccessfully training Iraqi security forces???), arming more rebel bands of who-the-hell knows whom they really are (let’s agree, it’s doubtful they’re moderates).
First let’s talk about what are the US interests in the region – make a list and explain why it’s a US interest – convince me, an average American citizen. Next tell me who are America’s allies and adversaries in the region and then break down the remaining factions and players into some groups and define who they are. Then give me a real intelligence assessment of the refugee crisis and how that will complicate security across the region for decades and be a destabilizing factor for the foreseeable future. Tell me about the multitude of factions and who their enemies and allies are (be careful here, sides switch frequently, so by the time we arm and train a group, they might have switched sides, carting our weapons with them and willing to use those weapons against us).
What happens if we defeat ISIS – we’re back to the same thing – another power vacuum. We need some end game plans before we aid, arm, bomb, “defeat” anymore “evil-doers” to help “freedom-fighters” . A strategy based on reality, not pipe dreams and wishful thinking would be nice.
Senator McCain is right about President Obama “leading from behind”, but to lead from the front requires us to first define our American interests and our long term goals in the region. To reach some consensus on our American interests, it would behoove our political leaders to pick up some books on the history of the region and get to understand the complex political dynamics there. Then, America, as a wanna-be world leader, if I were in charge, well, I’d put on my big girl panties, and open direct, frank talks with the leaders in the region and with other world leaders – heck pick the 4 other permanent members of the UN security council for starters. To date, we’ve seen John Kerry choking in his own swirling Syrian sandspout of overblown rhetoric and the Russians rescued him by intervening with Assad. Lately Kerry’s been bowing to the mullahs in Iran so much he’ll need a top-notch chiropractor to straighten his spine, but perhaps growing some backbone is a futile effort.
What we have not seen is America offer anything in the region that has improved regional stability since 9/11. Our policies (well-meaning in intent) have resulted in catastrophic regional instability and everywhere we’ve added more fuel (military aid, both weapons and/or troops) is more unstable, more factionalized than before we got involved. Perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath and do some deep soul-searching on what it is we are really trying to do in this region, define what our American interests are, what we can feasibly do to help stabilize the region, and find ways to put a damper on this raging inferno rather than tossing more fuel onto it.
Here are some of my ideas on the big picture strategic objectives for America, maybe, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and other American leaders could start explaining how they see America’s role in the world: