I completely agree with your assessment, Jason R. I'm trying to paint a picture, rather, of how Bill Clinton's priorities and accomplishments had us heading in a very promising direction (peace in N. Ireland, resolution of the Balkan war, peace accords in Palestine) and in just 8 short years, thanks to war hawks like Condi Rice, we go in the complete opposite direction and undue years of positive American reputation and standing.
As for Afghanistan, I think that if the Bush Administration had set forth from 9/11 with the singular purpose of destroying all remnants of the Taliban, and infused the same scale of resources utilized in Iraq, that we wouldn't be still talking about them now, some 8 years after 9/11. We had the support of the international community and even NATO forces (its important to note their presence in Afghanistan but not Iraq), and if we had actually "followed Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell" like our wonderful ex-vice president had promised, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But in yet another Bush-era analytical blunder, we basically took the capital Kabul, chased them in the hills a little, and then said "Well, job well done guys."
As for Somalia, I think that at the time of BHD, there clearly wasn't enough of a mandate for large-scale invasion. Sadly, humanitarian tragedies simply aren't enough reason to get involved in distant land wars. But as international piracy has risen from the ashes of the failed government perched advantageously at the horn of Africa, that mandate would've gotten much, much larger. You say that piracy in the Gulf of Aden is not a matter of national security, but I beg to differ. One of the biggest stories of last year was that hijacked Ukrainian vessel loaded with heavy Soviet-era weapons such as tanks, mechanized vehicles, rocket launchers, etc. It's a scary thought that weapons like that could fall into the hands of terrorists, not to mention the 100's of millions of dollars they collect from ransoms. Just recently a North Korean vessel narrowly escaped capture, rescued, ironically, by a South Korean gunship. Who knows what ships from countries like North Korea and Iran and others are secretly smuggling all over the world? What if the pirates had succeeded in capturing that North Korean vessel and it turned out there was fissile material aboard? North Korea might even been hesitant to warn the international community of the theft until it was too late. Not to mention that ships attempting to smuggle illegal weapons probably wouldn't follow designated "safe channels" or join in convoy with other ships.
I think an invasion of major coastal cities/regions in Somalia would've been far easier than full invasion and occupation of Iraq. It would've required NATO and U.N. participation, of course, something that was even possible in Iraq had Bush been willing to compromise (yes, I know that's a dirty word some people out there). Instead, under the advice of Rice, they plowed ahead, ignoring condemnations from the U.N. (i.e. the rest of the WORLD) with the Iraq war and paid a much heavier price than simply the raw material, money, and lives lost. We also lost our international standing, our diplomatic leverage, and our ability to combat actual threats to our national security. I mean, these are the kind of mistakes you read about in history books that lead to the downfall of once-mighty and invincible empires. The more I think about it, the more issues like torture, while very repulsive, pale in comparison. Even Russia and China would have trouble objecting to security council resolutions with their own ships under attack. But we so grossly alienated our own allies as well as our "friendships" with Russia and China, that it's beyond comprehension to imagine America as a forger of international resolve anymore.
I never assume the Spurs will lose a single game....EVER.
Last edited by wu_aphex; 05-09-09 at 11:50 AM.