It’s disgraceful that it’s still more controversial to avoid a dumb war than it is to continue two of them endlessly.
On the Friday before Thanksgiving, two massive stories were leaked into the newsosphere with hopes that they’d be completely ignored as we prepare for gullet stuffing season.
First, an eighth investigation, this one led by House Republicans, debunked the right’s favorite fantasies about the tragic Benghazi attacks. Then the New York Times reported that the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan will be extended through at least 2015. And Republicans are glad to pretend that neither of these revelations exist.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate are vowing to do anything they can to derail any nuclear agreement with Iran that doesn’t completely eliminate Iran’s ability to produce nuclear energy. And we’re engaged in a “air” war in Iraq against ISIS, another terrorist group that wouldn’t be in that region if we hadn’t invaded it.
The massive strategic failures of the Bush administration continue to demand American intervention in areas where American intervention has created more crises as it has resolved. Iraq and and Afghanistan have finally rid themselves of the incompetent leaders installed under the Bush Administration. But any “democracy” that exists constantly teeters on collapse thanks to meddling of local powers or insurgents whose resiliency have been proven over and over.
And what do Republicans in Congress want to talk about? Benghazi, still.
It’s been half a decade since we’ve have any significant debate about what our goals in Iraq or Afghanistan are. And conservatives continue to demand concessions from Iran that would require us to invade and occupying that nation.
Over and over, the right refuses to learn the lesson of the last decade: American occupations in the Middle East are the problem, not the solution. Yet they feel redeemed because, some say, failing to confront and destroy ISIS will allow its brutal, senseless terrorism spread beyond the region, all the way to our shores.
Imagining we could erase Bush’s mistakes by simply extricating ourselves from them seems to have been naive. But I’ve yet to hear any argument that suggests doubling down on Bush’s blunders wouldn’t be insanity.
There are no easy answers to the problem Republicans created. And — even worse — there’s been no attempt to even suggest any answers, except those answers that demand another insane American ground war in the region.
In Afghanistan, however, there seems to be a different, equally complicated risk. Our disengagement in that region after the Soviet Union fell helped lead to the rise of a nation that abetted Al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States. There seems to be little hope the government we’ve help establish will survive our disengagement. Thus some continuing role seems inevitable. But Congress should be debating what that role is, not acting as anti-Hillary Benghazi Super PAC.
Sure, there are legitimate questions about Benghazi that Republicans refuse to engage. Like: How do we secure our diplomats and was our intervention legal or worthwhile, especially given how that nation has descended into chaos?
But the agenda behind the Benghazi truthers — like Lindsey Graham — isn’t to question the logic of war. Graham’s goal is to fault and prod a president who refuses to make enough war to satisfy the endless hunger of the military-industrial complex and its hawks in Congress.
The president avoids this debate too, largely out of consternation for his inability to evade the failures of the past, I believe. But if he hopes his legacy will be to leave us a nation less willing to do dumb stuff, he needs to kill these dumb debates by calling for a real dialogue about what our role in a world neo-conservatives would love to watch burn a little more.
[Image by Erik Cleves Kristensen via Flickr]