A Tale of Four Wars

October, 2006

Al Globus

Today, America, led by the Republican party, finds itself engaged in four wars:

  1. Against al Qaeda, declared by Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s.

  2. Against 'terror,' declared by Republican president George Bush in 2001.

  3. In Afghanistan, invaded by the U.S. in late 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks.

  4. In Iraq, initiated by Bush in 2003.

In late 2001, to fight these wars, the Republican party had the following assets:

Five years on, how are the Republicans doing in the wars? Very poorly.

  1. Against al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has been seriously damaged by loss of its Afghan bases, the death of many of its leaders and foot soldiers, and, probably, more difficult access to funds. On the other hand, Osama is still at large, al Qaeda has survived, and al Qaeda in Iraq has had significant success. In addition, al Qaeda's message seems to be resonating well in the Islamic world.

  2. Against 'terror.' Al Qaeda has metastasized into a plethora of sister organizations, which are very difficult to track and destroy. The number of terrorist attacks world wide is way up. There have been major attacks in Bali, London, and Madrid. There have been a number of small, non-Islamic related, terrorist attacks in the U.S., including anthrax attacks and the D.C. sniper. Worse, North Korea has gone nuclear and Iran is probably heading that way. Efforts to secure loose Russian nukes have lost funding and are lagging. This last is probably the most serious threat for a nuclear terrorist attack on the U.S.

  3. In Afghanistan. There was significant initial success five years ago removing the Taliban from power. However, the Taliban today is resurgent, the U.S. has not delivered peace and prosperity to the countryside, the central government is weak, and there are signs that the population is withdrawing its support.

  4. In Iraq: After initial success deposing Saddam, the U.S. has been unable to control the country. While the Kurdish areas have done well, these were never occupied by the U.S. The borders are porous, insurgent attacks are at a very high level, westerners cannot travel without heavily armed escorts, American casualties have been significant, the U.S. is very unpopular with Iraqis, Americans have been caught torturing locals, parts of the country have been more-or-less ceded to the insurgency, and many observers see Iraq on the brink of civil war. It's so bad that retired American generals have gone public with criticism of U.S. policy.

In spite of the tremendous assets the Republicans had in late 2001, they haven't won a single war. Note that less time was needed to win the Civil War, World War I, and World War II against significantly stronger opponents.

Speaking of assets, how are they doing? Not well.

In light of the abysmal performance of the Republicans in all four wars and in maintaining U.S. strength, something must be done. I suggest voting for Democrats and sending them money.

This will dilute Republican power and may prevent them from making their stupidest mistakes, such as starting a fifth war with Iran with no idea how to win it. If either legislative branch goes Democratic, hearings on the conduct of the wars can be held, and oversight frequently leads to better performance.