Monday, July 6, 2009

The Next Phase?

The Next Phase?

Where we may see the war on terror take us next.

Recently the Department of Defense is deploying a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to send a "message" to Iran. The Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that this was a normal procedure and not an escalation of force. There was also an anonymous report that there are new Iranian weapons caches in Iraq, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff - the voice of the military independent of the DoD and independent adviser to the president - said that they had no new intelligence that Iran had aided the insurgency. It was also rumored that the Prime Minister of Iraq was about to issue a challenge to Iran and that the United States was willing to issue a similar ultimatum that they cease supporting the insurgency or we shall take action.

This is a crucial moment in the development of the new Iraq, poorly handled this Administration may extend the war in Iraq into Iran. It would be an attempt to force the hand of Congress to supporting this war. It was no secret that Donald Rumsfeld saw Iraq as unfinished business, countless accounts of the build up to the war in Iraq and the aftermath of 9/11 that Rumsfeld continually tried to train the crosshairs on Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The president himself asked many different ways for an Iraq attack strategy. The tipping point, once reached, rode the tide of the Global War on Terror into action. The Legislature would never fund action in Iran at this moment, but with the precedent they've set so far - voting for funding for wars they are against because it is far too great a mess to stop funding - this could be the only shot for the administration to achieve its perceived goal of an engagement of Iran.

Bob Woodward, Ron Suskind, and other notable journalists have noted that George W. Bush, while aware of the gravity of the situations we find ourselves in, has taken some pleasure in referring to himself as a "wartime president." While I do not doubt that George W. Bush loves his country, I do doubt that he is aware of what is the best for it. The duplicitous nature of his message and the actions of his administration have been astonishing and terrifying. It astonishes me that while running as the future of conservatism, he has put the country into more debt than ever before while swelling the government to heretofore unseen levels of bureaucracy. It terrifies me because the American media and the American people did not hold these men and women accountable for their blunders in any serious way. Gross disregard for expertise and calculated strategy have left the future of this nation in dire peril. While all unknown now, I am willing to speculate that there are offices in the CIA, Pentagon, and Department of State all separately working on an actionable strategy for Iran. And in the previous two engagements in the war on terror, these agencies have not worked well together and share distrust. This could severely hinder an effective operation and only through joint effort can these type of endeavors be successfully undertaken.

Still the saber-rattling continues with respect to Iran. The media continues to beat the drum of war and when the Iranian president sat down for an interview with 60 minutes, I heard questions I would expect of Stephen Colbert's character on the Colbert Report. Rather than engage through media or meetings with the Iranian leadership and, more importantly, the Iranian people, our leaders turn their back to them. Rather than seriously try to understand the subject, the interviewer tried to paint him as the clear enemy and worthy only of our disdain. It would have been an excellent platform for truth, but instead was practically insulting to the elected leader of one of our most dangerous adversaries. Our disrespect is our direct detriment, for the Muslims are a proud people and our arrogance only further alienates us from the hearts and minds of the people, specifically the youth that we must gain for ultimate victory in this battle.

The Iraqi government's meeting with Iran will be very telling. If headway is made towards peace, perhaps we will avoid what I believe would begin a World War dwarfing its predecessor in scale as WWII dwarfed The Great War. If it goes poorly, the shaping of our future as a nation and a people will be tested on a level not seen in a lifetime. Yet, all hope is not lost. The way this Administration and its cabinet have reacted to the rest of this world has been misguided at best. If we open up the halls of the Executive Branch of our government to outside ideas and opinions, rather than the closed-off group mentality that pervades it currently. At the very least, where the actions of this Administration have brought us today, it is a fair request of the American people that we have fresh voices on these foreign policy issues - despite their positions on guns, gays, or God. In the Army, people of different backgrounds, belief systems, and values can become as close as family and accomplish anything they are asked to do. There is a lesson to be learned from that.

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