Washington seems unable to think of anything except war, war, and more war. War is not constructing a very solid foundation for national security, but it does have domestic political benefits. (I say “Washington,” rather than “the neo-cons” because I see little evidence that any significant thinking about alternatives is occurring within the Washington elite. Please! Someone prove me wrong…say, by quoting a statement by Obama condemning the attack on Syria.)
On March 16, I wrote that:
Bush seems to have decided to maintain his aggressive, militant course of frontal confrontation with Islamic political actors who do not submit to U.S. leadership.
Perhaps my message is beginning to sink in. On October 27, describing the recent U.S. attack on Syria, the New York Times said:
Together with a similar American commando raid into Pakistan more than seven weeks ago, the operation on Sunday appeared to reflect an intensifying effort by the Bush administration to find a way during its waning months to attack militants even beyond the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the United States is at war.
As the Times’ reference to Pakistan suggests, we have gone a long way down the road of confrontation since March. Not coincidentally, the U.S. position in that country is weakening dramatically, with the Brits warning that the war against the Taliban is unwinnable and with virtually everyone outside of Washington now talking negotiated settlement.
In Lebanon (anyone remember Israel’s 2006 onslaught to eliminate Hezbollah?), Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, is meeting with Hariri, leader of the pro-U.S. faction: not exactly the result the Israeli-Bush Administration neo-con team had in mind.
Even America’s new Iraqi colony is suddenly putting up serious resistance to continued U.S. military occupation of that shattered land, to the point that the U.S. has resorted to blatant blackmail to force its client to submit.
But if seven years of war against Moslems with an independent streak have mostly served to undermine rather than enhance U.S. national security, the political benefits for the neo-cons have been something else again. Not only did Bush succeed in getting reelected, neo-con policy innovations, despite the popular hostility to Bush, have yet to be rejected by the U.S. elite or the people. U.S. attacks on countries with which we are not at war is only one of several exceedingly dangerous neo-con policy innovations lurking like latent viruses in the political landscape. The attack on Syria is important because it strengthens the neo-con strategy of solving global problems through force. Each such attack, even if it fails to rescue the hapless McCain campaign, nevertheless makes it that much more difficult for an incoming Obama administration to strike a new tone.