As the campaign grinds on, the issue of bringing the troops home gets center stage billing. There are some who say that Iraq is not the most pressing issue and point to the failing economy, or to our failing healthcare system as more pressing. I also do not think bringing the troops home is the number one issue and instead believe changing our Middle East and our “War on Terror” policies are together the most broken of our foreign policies. If the next President fixes them, then the troops will come home quickly. Here’s why:
1. Under co-Presidents Bush and Cheney, the US Middle East policy has been based upon a greedy grab for oil and a “biased broker” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The interests who are served well by big energy, are being aided by Bush and Cheney through their failed Iraq War disgrace. Bush and Cheney could not care less about peace in the Middle East and only sought to stir up confusion so that their friends could get a disproportionate share of the oil. The current mess in Iraq simply reflects the incompetence of Bush and Cheney as leaders and thinkers.
The Israeli situation is a little more complicated in that the current stalemate is minimally acceptable to the Israelis. While outright peace would be better, the necessary negotiations and compromises to bring about peace would not satisfy all the radical and fundamentalist groups in Israel and as a result, it is difficult to imagine a fair agreement coming from the Israelis. Conversely, the Hamas faction (and before the Fattah group) are pawns for other nations such as Syria and Iran who prefer to have disorder in the region. Disorder helps them control their own countries better.
The route to a quieter Iraq and a more peaceful Palestinian situation is the same road and it runs through Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The US must concentrate attention on these countries and bringing them to realize they are better off with a more moderate Middle East. The Israeli Government must learn that our financial support will sharply decrease if they are not willing to abandon the settlements on the occupied lands and make some compromise on returning Palestinian refugees. Both of these events will not happen overnight but should be put in play on day 1 of the next Administration.
2. The term “War on Terror” should be thrown in the garbage can on day 1. It is a term without a proper definition and has served to bring fear and less critical thinking to the American people. You can not have a “war” on “terror” anymore than you could have one on sunsets. In a free and open society, there will always be the chance of someone acting violently. Consider the many tragic shootings in our high schools and universities. Is that not terror? Should we institute check points at each intersection and search those on foot or in cars for weapons or other WMD?
When we invaded Afghanistan in “hot pursuit” of Al Qaeda, we acted against a State that was haboring these extremists. This is a rationale foreign policy. When we invaded Iraq, which had no connection with 9/11, US policy went off track. The “War on Terror” was simply “spin” to dress up a shameful decision and confuse the American public.
Radicals and extremists are as much of a concern to Russia, China, Great Britain, France, and Germany as they are to the US. Common sense would tell us that there needs to be a coordinated action to control these elements. This change in policy could be announced day 1 also.
The problem in Iraq is a US policy problem, not a terrorist issue. We may owe some continuing aid to Iraq, including military support, since we destroyed Iraq’s ability to govern itself with our regime change. Be assured that this continuing support can be done at far less cost than the war today.
So, on Day 1 following the innaugeration, the next President needs to announce these policy changes. Then on day 2, he or she can announce that the troops are coming home.