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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Obama’s Impossible Choices on Iraq

June 16th, 2014

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Iraq was a bold U.S. experiment in nation-building. It turned out to be a flop.

That’s what we’re learning as we watch what the United States achieved there evaporate after nine years of war, after nearly 4,500 Americans were killed, 32,000 wounded and $800 billion in U.S. taxpayer money spent.

When George W. Bush first ran for president in 2000, he expressed contempt for nation-building. It was a point he made in rally after rally. “I’m worried about the fact I’m running against a man,” Bush said, “who uses ‘military’ and ‘nation-building’ in the same sentence.”

But what were U.S. troops doing in Iraq four years later if not nation-building?

The U.S. military can do many things supremely well. They are all military things — like fighting wars, repelling invasions and providing security. But nation-building — the task that devolved upon them in both Iraq and Afghanistan — is political, not military. And politics is not something the military can do very well. Nor should anyone expect it to.

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It’s Good News When Terrorists Break Up

February 24th, 2014

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What happens when you’re the meanest player on a team with a history of violence (say, the Philadelphia Flyers from the 1970s), but you disobey the coach too many times? No matter how good on the field, pitch or ice you may be, the head office has no choice but to cut you from the roster.

This happened recently in the world of international terrorism, where al-Qaida Central became fed up with one of its franchises and disavowed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, or ISIS. This is the first time al-Qaida cut ties with one of its regional groups — surprisingly so since ISIS has been successfully driving the jihadist agenda in the heart of the Middle East.

This split is good news for the U.S. and its allies. Here’s why:

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Bin Laden, Qaddafi, Iraq, Oh My!

October 24th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

Ironically, the end of the war in Iraq was announced the day after the campaign in Libya ended. Iraq and Libya epitomize two radically different approaches for dealing with terrorism: massive intervention and targeted strikes.

The war in Iraq was led by the United States. It lasted nearly nine years and cost the U.S. $1 trillion and over 4,400 American lives. The outcome is still uncertain. The Libyan revolution was led by the Libyan people. The conflict lasted seven months. No U.S. combatants were killed, although several American journalists lost their lives. The cost to the United States was about $1.1 billion, or about a thousand times less than the war in Iraq. The Libyan revolution succeeded. Read the rest of this entry »

The Death of the Bush Doctrine

June 27th, 2011

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This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

The Bush Doctrine is dead. It was mortally wounded in Iraq. It finally expired in Afghanistan.

The doctrine was promulgated by President George W. Bush in his second inaugural address on January 20, 2005, when he said, “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” That made it a matter of U.S. national security to turn other countries into democracies. Even to force democracy with guns and tanks, as we did in Iraq, and as we are trying to do in Afghanistan.

We’re now seeing growing impatience with Afghanistan in the Republican Party. “I think we have learned that our troops should not go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation,” Mitt Romney said at this month’s Republican debate in New Hampshire. Jon Huntsman advocates “an aggressive drawdown” of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “I’m not sure the fate of our country is going to be determined on the prairies of Afghanistan,” Huntsman said last week. Read the rest of this entry »

Rosner & Bennett: Public Backs Obama as a Wartime President

March 18th, 2010

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This piece was originally published in Roll Call.

Even with Washington, D.C., consumed by fights over health care and jobs, President Barack Obama is still having to wage two real wars and the battle against an ongoing terrorist threat. A new poll says the public mostly approves how he is handling the security front.

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Focus on the Mission: Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

March 5th, 2010

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This piece was originally published on The Huffington Post.

They serve in Iraq. They fight in Afghanistan. Their names are etched in marble at Arlington National Cemetery. And three out of four Americans believe they shouldn’t be forced to lie to serve the country for which they are prepared to die.

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