Monday, March 16, 2009

We have learned little or nothing from eight years of Bush military adventurism...

... which is something that it has required only that many weeks to determine.

We have a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who has been allowed to discuss publicly the general outline of a US attack on Iran:

In an interview today on the Charlie Rose show, Admiral Michael Mullen cautioned that a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran could endanger the stability entire region, leading to an escalation that could imperil American forces in the Gulf region.

Then Mullen spoke about a hypothetical US attack on Iran, declaring that it was in “a maritime part of the world, where the emphasis would certainly be on those two forces (the Air Force and Navy).” Mullen also insisted that there was no disconnect between the United States and Israel on the question of Iran. Israel has repeatedly been reported as being on the cusp of launching an attack on Iran.

At the same time, there is evidence of a disconnect within the Pentagon itself about Iran. Mullen has repeatedly been on the same page as Israel, accusing Iran of moving quickly toward the creation of nuclear weapons (in spite of all the evidence to the contrary). Yet Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Mullen contradicted one another rather publicly just two weeks ago, when Gates declared that Iran was “not close to a weapon at this point.”

Of course, that's not the only war Admiral Mullen is talking up, as he's also rattling our sabres in Mexico:

WASHINGTON — As the Pentagon eyes a bigger role in Mexico's drug war, the military's efforts to open the door to a new relationship with its southern neighbor risks alienating the Mexican military, which has long had a strained relationship with its counterpart, experts said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called for improved relations with the Mexican military in response to escalating drug violence along the Mexican border and in Mexico. On Meet the Press earlier this month, the secretary said: "I think we are beginning to be in a position to help the Mexicans more than we have in the past. Some of the old biases against cooperation between our militaries and so on I think are being set aside."

Most experts, however, say any military role should be limited to sharing intelligence or training Mexican troops and even defense officials privately concede their effort to increase their role in Mexico is confusing Mexicans and even other U.S. agencies.

"It's a mistake to say that the United States is going to address this problem of security in Mexico by increasing the Pentagon's role," said Armand B. Peschard-Sverdrup, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It only would perpetuate the dysfunctional relationship between the two countries."

During a trip designed to expand U.S. Mexican-military relations, Adm. Michael Mullen, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, visited the graves of American troops who died during the Mexican-American war just as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates did during his first visit in August.

Nor does the administration seem--at least to our allies--to have the slightest idea what we're doing in Afghanistan:

One senior French official admitted that “we are lowering our ambitions,” adding “it’ll take two to five years, but we’re in a logic of disengagement.” He also added, incredibly enough, that even “the Americans are now looking for a way out, they no longer regard Afghanistan as strategic.”

But while Vice President Biden has recently admitted “we are not now winning the war,” the Obama Administration seems to be in escalation mode, not disengagement mode. 17,000 more troops are already approved for Afghanistan, and officials are preparing the populace for the inevitable increase in deaths.

All the allies seem to agree that Afghanistan is going to remain a disaster for the foreseeable future, but unless the French official’s comments signal a difference between the public and private US positions, it seems there is a growing disconnect between the US and the rest of NATO over how much longer they’re going to continue throwing troops and money at this problem.

Peace dividend? What peace dividend?

I really hate to say this, but the ham-handed conduct of foreign affairs--especially those having anything to do with military interventionism--by the Obama administration is starting to make me yearn for the good old day ... of Bill Clinton.

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