Posted on Jan 8, 2010
By Scott Ritter
As America enters the year 2010 and President Barack Obama his second year in office, the foreign policy landscape presented by American policymakers and media pundits appears to be dominated by two physical problems—Iraq and Afghanistan—which operate in an overarching metaphysical environment loosely defined as a “war on terror.” The ongoing wars in
What exactly constitutes the “war on terror” has never been adequately defined and, as a result, the United States has been, and continues to be, militarily involved in other regions as well, including Somalia, Kenya, the Philippines and, increasingly, Yemen. The American people today are fatigued, and while their political leadership promises to lead the nation out of the long, dark tunnel of conflict, there continues to be no light emerging in the distance, only the ever-darkening shadows of wars without end or purpose.
While Obama has promised a draw-down of military forces in Iraq, the lack of stability in that nation since the removal of Saddam Hussein precludes any meaningful reduction of troops, and the ever-present potential of renewed civil and sectarian warfare means that whatever troop level is eventually settled upon will be deployed in
Over the past 20 years
Obama’s Iran policy bears a marked similarity to the Iraq policies of the Clinton administration throughout the 1990s, with the specter of weapons of mass destruction used as a screen to hide the true goal. In both cases, the policies were constructed in a manner that gave the
President George W. Bush’s decision to invade
The failed attempts by the United States to orchestrate a “soft” revolution in Iran, in the form of covert support to pro-Western reformists, have only strengthened the position of the extreme hard-liners the United States seeks to remove from power, in the same way that the continuation of economic sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s only strengthened the regime of Saddam Hussein.
When the Obama administration is finally confronted with the reality that there is no possibility for viable economic sanctions against
The situation President Obama faces in today’s post-Taliban
The war in
As such, when one declares a “war” to exist, there must be a physical manifestation of an enemy, as well as the psychological manifestation of victory. After the 9/11 attacks, the “enemy” took on the form of the Taliban in
The “war on terror” has further complicated the
In the simplistic formulations emanating from
The “war on terror” into which Obama seems to have thrust himself (the most recent manifestation being
The “war on terror” becomes a self-perpetuating problem for which there is no solution. Worse, it is a problem that ultimately will destroy
The asymmetrical nature of the “war on terror” allows an individual, or group of individuals, using a thousand dollars worth of explosives and airline tickets to generate a response from America that costs billions of dollars and further erodes the very system of ideals and values that ostensibly define the United States, all the while doing nothing to resolve the original issue.
The most visible example of this disparity is the American response to the 9/11 attacks. At a cost of a few million dollars and 19 lives, al-Qaida compelled the
The solution to these problems rests not in defining new parameters for action, but rather in the definition of the basic problems faced. From an overarching perspective, the
Deviations from the “rule of law” are best dealt with in collective fashion by those who share not only common values but also a common interest in such a resolution. Giving a criminal element, whether in the form of al-Qaida or a drug lord, the status of community or nation by waging “war” against it represents a failure to define the problem properly, leading inevitably to solutions that solve nothing. The answer to 9/11 is not war, but rather the “rule of law.” Until this underlying premise is recognized and adopted by
The inability or unwillingness of American policymakers to accurately define the problems confronting the
The heart of the problems facing the
In a similar fashion, the
The increasing radicalization of
Kashmir serves as the principle motivating force for radical Islam in
Reducing the influence of radical Islam in
Sadly, if this prediction comes true, 2010 will be a very bad year for the American people, and the world as a whole, simply because those who can make a difference are operating in an alternative policy universe governed by the self-serving interests of those who use politically induced fear as a mechanism of placating a public oblivious to the fact that they are sleepwalking ever closer to a demise of their own making. For this we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Scott Ritter was a U.N. weapons inspector in
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs