Bush's military abuse
Although supporters of George W. Bush make much of his "tough" policy on terrorism, by both misusing the troops under his command and by taking actions which weaken the military in general he is not only failing to effectively fight terrorism in the present but also seriously eroding and undermining the American ability to do so in the long term.
- US military readiness has plummeted to dangerous levels under Bush: we are not currently prepared to deal with even a single significant event, much less two as was the goal under Clinton.
- Under Bush, there has been an increasing pattern of replacing top-level officers with Christian evangelists in an apparent attempt to encourage religious control of the US military
|David Brin said in Contrary Brin:|
[Even] as recently as 2002, it seemed that the US military services could do nothing wrong. That their skills and equipment and elan were so far ahead of any possible combination of foes, that any future adversaries would have to act against us in secret, or not at all.
This impression was doubly reinforced after stunning military (though not political) success in the first Gulf War (1991), followed by almost perfect execution of skilled diplomacy and policy in the Balkans Intervention. (All stated goals were achieved within weeks, at zero cost in US lives, clear exit strategies were followed to the letter, all "nation building" chores were delegated to others, readiness and budgets were unaffected and our popularity in the Muslim world went up.)
Moreover, if anyone was still unconvinced of US prowess, there came 9/11, followed by our swift intervention in Afghanistan when President GW Bush said “Go!” to an existing Clinton-Clark plan - one that hewed closely to the Powell Doctrine of professionalism, intense diplomacy and selective application of overwhelming (if surgical) force.
If Osama’s ultimate 9/11 plan was (according to many experts) to draw us into the Kush Mountains' killing zone, where he had already helped to humble one superpower, he was shocked and bitterly disappointed when the US led a coordinated campaign, combining local forces with air power and extensive local expertise, swiftly eliminated the Taliban regime that had succored bin Laden. An entire enemy regime toppled - fair enough retaliation for 9/11... and Osama was running for his life.
And all of these successes (since 1992) were accomplished without any truly substantial stains upon our nation's or the military's honor. (Indeed, at that point -- with the Taliban toppled -- shouldn’t we all have been allowed to get back to our lives? Would not that have been the ultimate punishment of terrorists?)
At this point, there also seemed to be a peak in international acceptance of unipolarity... the notion that having just one superpower is a good thing. Despite some gnashing of teeth in Moscow, Paris and Beijing, very few other nations sent delegates to meetings on the topic "what shall be done about America?" We were that popular. That strong. And apparently that unbeatable.
Only now... where is that reputation?
Reiterating: even if you put aside all the unnecessary death and theft and incompetence and immorality of recent years, you would still be left with a Bush Administration that has squandered and spoiled something both pragmatic and precious -- an appearance of invincibility that helped to keep the peace, better than whole divisions.
Now that inestimable aura is gone. Ask anyone, around the world, what their perception is, of a US Army that flounders, mired up to its neck in a quagmire of confusion, sloppy waste, plummeting morale and blurry goals. Is our current reputation an effective deterrent? Or does it encourage others to restore a multipolar, militarily competitive world?
Even (especially) American conservatives should find this a case of utter - and possibly criminal - betrayal of leadership.