By Nelson Hultberg:
The Iraqi war was launched in 2003 by George W. Bush and the officials he gathered into his administration (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, et al). They believed it was necessary in order to defend our country against the terrorist threat that arose from the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001. And, yes, they lied (or at the very least pushed unjustifiable intel) about WMD being developed by Saddam Hussein to justify the invasion.
In the minds of many American patriots and military personnel, however, the war in Iraq and our military involvement throughout the Mideast is not only not necessary to fight terrorism, it creates more problems than it can ever solve. Its cost, in both spirit and material since its inception, now weighs on our decaying society in hideous ways. What is horrifying is that our coercive intervention into Islamic affairs throughout the Mideast is, and will continue to be, neverending. This is what Orwell meant in Nineteen Eighty-Four with his satirical aspersion, “perpetual war for perpetual peace.”
As General Douglas MacArthur warned President Kennedy to stay out of a guerrilla war in Indochina,  so too should America have stayed out of such a war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Winning guerrilla wars in the guerrillas’ home territory requires devastating the indigenous population and then occupying the country endlessly with authoritarian methods. This is not the American way; it is the way of imperialists.
Douglas MacArthur was one of our greatest, most daring generals, a consummate patriot who well understood the necessity to go to war when it was forced upon us. But he also understood the dangers of the modern day Leviathan and its manipulation of its citizens to justify war. In 1957, perhaps anticipating Vietnam, he warned that, “Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear – kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor – with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.” 
General MacArthur was speaking 58 years ago, but does not his warning fit today’s “warmongers” in Washington who revel in stampeding the people with constant threats about terrible evils abroad? The names and events change down through the centuries, but the ploys of Lord Acton’s power lusters remain the same; they continue to spur well-meaning men to war fever with “the cry of grave national emergency.”
America’s interventionist war today in the Mideast is no different in principle than the one MacArthur cautioned us about in Indochina. In order to be genuinely won, it must bog our nation and troops down for many decades into the future. Vicious internecine fighting among the tribes that populate the area (Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Wahabbis, etc.) has been the way of life for these primitives for over a thousand years, and American political philosophy is not going to eliminate the hostilities they hold for each other and for democracy.
Our statists in Washington are bewildered by the difficulty in getting Muslims’ to be enthusiastic about democracy and an American style Constitution. But as Richard Maybury points out in The Thousand Year War in the Mideast, Muslims have their own Constitution. It’s the Koran, and it has ruled them for over a millennium. Yet our solons imagine that they can overturn 1400 years of metaphysical tradition with gung-ho American lectures.
This is embarrassingly naïve. Change in a culture’s metaphysical views takes place over centuries, not years. It moves like a glacier sliding across a continent. And it does not respond to the butt end of a rifle. What glee our enemies must be experiencing at sight of eager Washington technocrats trying to convert Islamic cultures to democracies with gung-ho lectures and military prowess. It is such kindergarten level thinking – to believe such an approach can meaningfully alter the Muslim way of life.
Our hubris has already cost us $6 trillion dollars along with 6,717 deaths and 50,897 wounded on the battlefield in this Mideast cauldron, as our economy plunges toward bankruptcy because of our government’s reckless reaching beyond its financial and spiritual supply lines. Yet the region is now engulfed in far more grisly chaos than before. Great nations fall precisely because of this kind of blindness, this kind of senseless waste and inhumanity that the Bushes and Obamas of history so callously heap upon their fellowman.
Confronting Terrorism and ISIS
ISIS is the evil spawn of Islamic extremism that stems from Muhammad’s calls to kill all infidels. There are 109 specific passages in the Koran advocating such. ISIS is thus a vile and dangerous sector of the Islamic faith and must certainly be confronted. But contrary to neoconservative claims, America does not need a massive military presence in the Mideast to handle this barbaric cancer. ISIS can be defeated by organizing a coalition of troops from among the Islamic countries (Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.) along with the Kurds. America should provide strategic weapons, bombing and training; but we must not succumb to the siren call of the “warmongers” and put American troops in the field. This is the Muslims’ neighborhood, and they need to clean it up.
Ultimately the Islamist threat to America can only be stopped by our returning to the rational immigration policy of “National Origins” that prevailed prior to 1965. This would allow us to pick and choose who we wish to allow into America, which would allow us to ban Muslims as immigrants until they get their jihadist-motivated religion reformed. This is why we don’t need to put our troops on the ground in the Mideast. The real fight is at our borders.
From the start our military efforts should have been quick and surgical in Afghanistan and geared only toward ferreting out Osama bin Laden rather than a multi-front war that included Iraq and the imposition of democracy on Islamic primitives. Our present approach is tragically self-defeating; but this is the level of historical acumen and strategic perception possessed by the neoconservative pundits that George W. Bush ushered into power.
There is no more lethal combination of flaws for men to possess than ignorance and arrogance. Those intellects who have studied history and grasp the flawed nature of man realize this. We fear greatly the dreadful consequences of allowing ignorant and arrogant men such as George Bush and Barack Obama to lead us as a nation. The foreign policy apparatchiks they both gathered around them are neoconservatives whose drive for “militaristic global hegemony” has been in effect since Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol gained the ear of Bush in 2001. It is costing us as Americans our freedom and our country its sanity. The body bags will not cease, the gargantuan debts incurred will not recede, and America’s relentless collapse into an insolvent despotism will not stop until a rational ruling ideology comes to power in Washington. Let us hope it begins January 20, 2017.
- Bernard K. Duffy and Ronald H. Carpenter, Douglas MacArthur: Warrior as Wordsmith (Greenwood Press, 1997), p. 151.
- Speech to the Sperry Rand Corporation, New York City, July 30, 1957. Major Vorin E. Whan, Jr., ed., A Soldier Speaks; Public Papers and Speeches of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (Frederick A. Praeger, 1965), p. 333.
© Copyright by Nelson Hultberg, 2016. All rights reserved.