My blogging friend Bob McCarty is a pretty good marketer, so I get a heads-up on what he writes on a regular basis. But today he has a post by guest blogger Paul Hollrah which could give one pause in this holiday season – the prospect of fighting wars on six fronts.
Paul points out that over sixty years ago during World War II we developed the military capability of fighting a war simultaneously on two fronts. Back then we took on the Nazi regime in Europe and northern Africa while warring with the Japanese empire all over the Pacific Rim, and with help of some erstwhile allies we proved victorious in about 3 1/2 years. Yet, Hollrah asks, with our military already tied up in battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, could we address needs which may crop up in other places such as Korea, Iran, our southern border with Mexico, or even domestically?
Not only that, given the fact we’ve been in Afghanistan for nearly a decade already and it took several years to bring success in Iraq – do we have the stomach anymore to outlast a determined enemy? Obviously, they believe that isn’t so and a Tet-like offensive (which was far more successful from a propaganda standpoint than from a military one) will evict us from the scene.
Complicating matters even more is the push for austerity in Washington, where even the military may not be completely immune from the budget cutting advocated by TEA Partiers. They want a strong America, but may not necessarily see wisdom in being the world’s policeman when other allies have already thrown in the towel. Furthermore, they see the threat to American citizens and interests along the Mexican border as perhaps more important than a thus far futile attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan.
Perhaps I’m getting a little more isolationist as time goes by, but there seems to be some priorities out of line among those who guide our military and foreign affairs. I believe in peace through strength, but unfortunately given the rules of engagement we seem to be fighting under in some locales it may be better just to either simply cut our losses or define victory on our terms (as opposed to the host country’s) and go fullbore toward the goal. Of late, we’ve shown more finesse than power when the opposite is required.
One aspect of our strategy Hollrah seems to ignore, though, is the care and support of our overseas personnel – not the ones in battle, but those cooling their heels in a number of bases far from the front lines. I’d be interested in having someone justify why we are spread out in a number of nations well away from the action, addressing a threat that may have ceased to exist a number of years ago. Is it now more of a matter of propping up the economy of the host countries? I don’t have the answer to that.
Yet if I were to prioritize things, I’d have to say our major threats may be closer to home than in the Middle East or Asia. Understandably we need to keep a check on radical Islam but I don’t think our current occupation strategy is exactly the right one. One obvious drawback of nationbuilding via democracy is that the people who are elected to build the nation might become the problem – then what do you do?
Still, the biggest issue we seem to have is a lack of leadership. We all know that nature abhors a vacuum, so the question becomes how the void will be filled. I’m doubtful we will like the answer if it doesn’t come from within, but the quandry is we can’t address the situation for some time to come.