Yesterday Mosul, a city that once was home 3 million people, fell to an al Qaeda offshoot.
Today it is Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit that finds itself under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It also has the keys to the nation’s largest oil refinery in Bayji.
Shock and awe has returned to Iraq in the worst possible way. There can be no doubt that the same will happen in Afghanistan in the not too distant future.
Too many brave and patriotic soldiers from countries like Canada, Britain, New Zealand and Australia have left their families and died in Afghanistan and Iraq for these fiascos to go unaddressed.
Far too many good American families have resolutely given everything only to see Iraq fail. They deserve better in Afghanistan.
And the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are not better off for the military intervention over the last decade. They are worse off.
What we have is a complete disaster on every level and in every sense. So let’s look at all the ways this is a nightmare.
To begin with, put aside all the arguments about whether these wars were legitimate for a second.
The first thing that needs to be addressed is the fact that the entire might of the Western world can’t win a war against a bunch of cave dwellers. That’s a scary thought. Islamic militants are emboldened by success against the world’s superpower.
Regardless of what you think about the legitimacy of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they highlight that Western nations lack the military strength to win and the popular strength to stay the course. Alarm bells should be ringing out loud and clear on that score alone.
Next is the trajectory of weakness. In 2003, the West was prepared to go to war against a relatively stable nation state headed by a tyrant. In 2014, it sits by and dithers while hundreds of thousands are killed and millions are displaced in Syria. Chemical weapons have been used. Christians are being massacred. And, unlike Iraq in 2003, groups that have attacked Western interests control large parts of the country. They are actively recruiting soldiers from Islamic populations living in places like Sydney. By any analysis, Western intervention in Syria is more warranted than action in Iraq. But the will to act has been sapped by a decade of bungles.
That’s bad news too.
The reasons for these military bungles are not secret.
Firstly, these wars have had no clear goal. No one can say what the mission was, what it is or what it will be tomorrow. That’s a massive self-inflicted wound.
Secondly, these wars have had no clear enemy. That’s not because there isn’t one. People are getting blown up all over the place to make it pretty much obvious that there is actually an enemy.
It’s just that the West isn’t prepared to say who it is. Al Qaeda is a bad answer. For every al Qaeda dude killed, there are a hundred more in some other offshoot all pointing in the same direction. Even the guys al Qaeda fights the most are still aiming their guns our way.
And terrorism is a terrible answer as well. It’s not an enemy. It’s a tactic. Declaring war on terror today is like declaring war on blitzkrieg in the 1940s. It’s an idea all covered in stupid because it doesn’t address the problem.
There is one single unifying reason behind the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran and Syria and Egypt and all the places in between. It’s an ideology called Islam. Its fruits are brutal dictators like Saddam Hussein and jihadist psychos like Osama bin Laden. Its subjects are treated like slaves. Muslim literally means one who submits.
But it’s politically incorrect to say that Islam is a problem because to do so would require some cultural self-belief. In fact, it’s much easier to send entire nations off to war and lose than address the glaring loss of belief in Western nations.
And that’s exactly what we’ve done since 2001. Twice.
This is the second of three posts exploring the link between the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and the battle for Western civilisation’s soul.
- Losing the Western will to fight (Part 1): An 8 step plan for failure
- Losing the Western will to fight (Part 2): Dissecting disaster
- Losing the Western will to fight (Part 3): The insidious really civil war