The present-day U.S. military qualifies by any measure as highly professional, much more so than its Cold War predecessor. Yet the purpose of today’s professionals is not to preserve peace but to fight unending wars in distant places. Intoxicated by a post-Cold War belief in its own omnipotence, the United States allowed itself to be drawn into a long series of armed conflicts, almost all of them yielding unintended consequences and imposing greater than anticipated costs. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces have destroyed many targets and killed many people. Only rarely, however, have they succeeded in accomplishing their assigned political purposes. . . . [F]rom our present vantage point, it becomes apparent that the “Revolution of ‘89” did not initiate a new era of history. At most, the events of that year fostered various unhelpful illusions that impeded our capacity to recognize and respond to the forces of change that actually matter.

Andrew Bacevich

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A must read

From Scott Ritter. His main point is to put much of the blame for violent Islamic radicalism on the Saudi royal family, but he doesn't spare the U.S. either. I recommend you read the whole thing (I don't otherwise recommend the Puffington Host), but here are a couple of important paragraphs.

Iraq is but one of the more visible manifestations of this post-Cold War reality. American force of arms could remove a dictator, but was -- and is -- incapable of transforming a society against the will of the indigenous population. When America toppled Saddam, it unleashed regional forces -- Iranian, Arab, Kurd, Sunni, and Shia -- that were not understood then, and are not understood now. America continues to mistake tactical victories - the fall of Baghdad, the capture of Fallujah, the death of Zarqawi, the "surge" -- for strategic vision. Not one of America's tactical successes in Iraq has withstood the test of time, and yet America continues to look to them as a template for future action that, in doing so, cements failure as the only possible outcome. The ultimate irony of the blame game is that it locks those who purport to seek a solution to the problem of ISIS into evaluating and assessing the symptoms associated with ISIS rather than the disease that spawned ISIS. Since America's involvement in Iraq is itself such a symptom, any search for a solution that predicates success on continued American involvement is itself doomed to fail. Failure to accurately identify the root cause of a problem leads to solutions that solve nothing.

It is high time American policy makers understood that, when it comes to the issues of Iraq, Syria, and ISIS, America is the problem, not the solution. As a country we need to stop buying into a Saudi-backed narrative that lays the blame for the ongoing unrest in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere at the feet of Iran, and instead recognize that those responsible for the ongoing regional conflagration reside in Riyadh. If we stop trying to unilaterally solve the myriad of problems that rage in the Middle East, then perhaps the Saudi government will stop instigating them. If not, then they alone will reap the consequences. The days of Saudi monopoly over the global oil economy are long past. A resurgent American domestic oil production capacity, combined with the looming possibility of Iranian oil reentering the global economy in a meaningful way, liberates American decision makers from the trap of Saudi-driven policy. With or without the fall of Ramadi, ISIS is not America's problem to solve. Sometimes the only way to win is to walk away.

Not going to happen I fear. I'm sensing Obama would like to, but he knows it's politically impossible.