The Bush Strategy for the GWOT
Four days into Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, the President was being asked if he had led the U.S. into a quagmire. Eight days into Operation Iraqi Freedom, the usual suspects said the military was bogged down and the Vietnam analogies began. Eighteen days later, the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein.
The media and the President’s political opponents have treated us to all the reasons the United States should not have taken the fight to Iraq – Saddam Hussein didn’t attack us on 9-11, Iraq posed no threat, Iraq is a diversion from the main task of defeating al-Qaeda, it’s blood for oil, no WMD, the war is going poorly, the war is unjust, more lives are being lost than saved and on and on.
It has been non-stop criticism of the President and of our military since October 2001. Every obstacle or set-back is treated as proof the President’s strategy for the GWOT is flawed and should be scrapped. These critics demand perfection and immediate gratification, something that rarely occurs in war.
To listen to the left-wing noise machine, you’d almost think the President woke up one day and without provocation, without a strategy and without the backing of the U.S. Congress decided to invade a peace loving country for partisan political advantage or financial gain.
President Bush has developed and implemented a global and long range strategy to defeat an enemy that declared war on the United States in 1998. We believe the islamofacists are the ones waging an unjust war and they are the ones killing people for no good reason. We also believe the actions by the United States and other countries to oppose the terrorist movement are logical and in the best interests of this country, as well as, the rest of the freedom loving countries around the world.
An article by Peter Schweizer, Strategies or diversions?, explains the parallels between the strategy President Bush has adopted to win the GWOT and the one pursued by FDR in World War II. Perhaps the President’s critics should look back at history and learn to grasp the big picture.
Excepts from the Schweizer article below. As they say, read the whole piece.
It is striking to note how Franklin D. Roosevelt faced very similar critics and how President Bush has adopted a grand strategy very much in the Roosevelt tradition.
With a logic that Bush would find familiar, FDR was lambasted by his critics for his WWII military strategy of defeating Germany first before focusing on Japan. They considered Germany a diversion. Wasn't it Japan and not Germany that had attacked us at Pearl Harbor.
Conspiracy theories abounded then as they do today. Jon Meacham, in his book Franklin and Winston, writes about how FDR's critics believed that his Germany-first strategy was a result of excessive British influence. It wasn't a conspiracy involving Israel-loving neocons back then, but Anglophiles, who were manipulating the White House to serve British ends.
In a fascinating parallel to Bush and Iraq, part of FDR's motivation for defeating Germany first was fear that the Nazis were working on atomic weapons. Alas, postwar intelligence revealed that Germany (like Saddam Hussein's Iraq) did not have much of a program. But military victory led most to ignore this massive intelligence failure.
FDR was not concerned with just the narrow military question of threats. Like Islamist extremists and secular Saddam, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany were opportunistic allies. Though the Nazis considered the Japanese racially inferior, no better than mongrels, they were part of a worldwide movement. Using the same logic that Bush does today, FDR understood the need for a grand strategy that destroyed the movement, not just certain military aggressors that were part of it.
Grand strategy is not only about defeating enemies, but also defeating them in a sequence and a manner that leads to a favorable postwar situation. Can anyone seriously doubt that defeating al-Qaeda but leaving the political situation in the Middle East the same is at best a temporary victory? Bush, as FDR did, understands that only with political transformation will the postwar prospects for peace improve.
The threat we face today is more amorphous and less easy to define than it was during World War II. But the strategic principles remain the same. Bush's critics, like Roosevelt's, are flawed in their thinking because they lack a grand strategy. Concerned only (or so they say) with the military defeat of al-Qaeda, they have nothing to say about defeating a worldwide movement or how to build a foundation for a successful postwar world.
Bush is in many ways FDR's strategic soul mate. His war on terror is a total global war against a movement comprised of terrorist groups and their state sponsors. By ousting both Saddam and the Taliban, he has removed two important components of the worldwide terrorist movement. And his grand strategy is slowly achieving results.
The forces of reform in the Middle East have been strengthened; the terrorist movement has been psychologically shaken. By destroying Saddam's military machine overnight, he has completely changed the psychology of the war on terrorism. Bush's strategy is one that FDR would understand well.