Friday, October 13, 2006

How Did We Get Here Now - WHEN DID WE GET SO WEAK

Written by: T Lee Humphrey

13 October 2006

HOW DID WE GET HERE (Series of articles)

WHEN DID WE GET SO WEAK

As I watch the political pundits and politicians work themselves into a frenzy over how we got where we are today as it relates to bin Laden and why he’s still alive after recent comments by President Clinton during a Fox News Sunday interview and the Bush Administrations response.

Many people seem to believe our current problems can be blamed on President Clinton while even more put the blame on President Bush. I think they’re all (like to many Americans) short sited and so I would like everyone to look much further back in our history to track the beginning of a weaker America that has led us to where we are now, specifically by focusing on how we are perceived by others.

In my humble opinion we began our slide in 1951 when the US was on the verge of victory in Korea and the Chinese decided they’d enter the war in a massive and open way. Instead of committing to winning the war at any cost ala WW II President Truman decided to pull the bomb off the table and soon there after began an almost two year process of peace talks with the North Koreans and the Chinese. This approach by the only President in history to drop nuclear weapons on an enemy sent the first message to the world that the US was no longer willing to do whatever was necessary to defend our allies. Not only did the US hold back militarily but the country wasn’t mobilized nor was its population galvanized to do whatever it took to win.

The next event that I believe sent a clear message to the world that American wasn’t willing to stand up for freedom was when President Kennedy promised to provide US air support to the Bay of Pigs invasion force but after the invasion began decided that Cuban freedom wasn’t worth tangling with Russia over and left these men to be captured tortured and killed. As this was going on President Kennedy was also telling our friends in South Vietnam that he wanted them to stand up and take the lead in fighting the North Vietnamese and that while he would increase the US militaries commitment it would only be to better train the fledgling South Vietnamese Army so they could stand on their own two feet.

After the assassination of President Kennedy, newly sworn in President Johnson reversed the administrations direction and committed combat troops. Again with great hesitation and an unwillingness to commit the forces necessary this resulted in a gradual escalation of troops and equipment vice a full out mobilization. The world saw us hesitate while the US saw a President not wanting to risk anymore lives than necessary. The decisive battlefield victory which almost eliminated the Viet Cong guerrilla movement and drove the majority of North Vietnamese troops back across their border resulted in the US public being shocked at what they saw on their TV screens and declared the war lost. Had we enjoyed the luxury of TV during WW II it would appear that when the German’s launched the offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge and in the winter of 1945 (when all of the world thought the war was over) driving American and allied forces back perhaps Walter Cronkite would have declared the war un-winnable and the US would have let our allies continue the fight alone.

I know you’re wondering how I’m going to get to today’s America from here but wait the pace picks up with President Nixon being elected on a platform of withdrawal with honor and then following up with his promise by again abandoning a key regional allie and tearing the country apart with its first clear war loss in the 20th Century. The message that went out around the world wasn’t withdrawal with honor, or enough is enough our allies must take up their own fights at some point it was America can be beaten not on the battlefield but in the arena of public opinion and Americans don’t have the stomach for a long term fight. TV and media attitudes towards war changed a great deal between Korea and Vietnam compared to the positive spin in newsreels from WW II and this had a very dramatic effect on public opinion and the political reaction to that opinion.

After Iran took over the US Embassy taking US citizens hostage in 1979 the world was sent another message by President Carter, if you directly attack America it will negotiate and when it attempts to attack its military is weak and can’t even get some helicopters to fly for more than a few hours. Remember this was in stark contrast to the way that Israel was handling terrorism at the time. The message to the terrorists of the Middle East was Israel not only fights back but will hunt you down, America will talk and posture but do nothing.

With the election of President Reagan the world held its collective breath as everybody was convinced that this new and somewhat unconventional President after his initial success with Iran (all negotiations were completed prior to the inauguration) said things are going to be different. America re-engaged and sent Marines to Lebanon on their first (and last) UN sanctioned peacekeeping mission but within months a Hezbollah suicide bomber using a huge truck bomb ended the tough beginning of the Reagan presidency and America's tentative move towards regaining a spine as President Reagan almost immediately ordered the withdrawal of the Marines. America praised President Reagan for his quick action, which would surely prevent more Marines from dying needlessly. The message the world got was if you give the Americans a quick bloody nose they will refuse to continue the fight. Although President Reagan was willing to attack Libya by air and invade Grenada during his second term the die was cast. He talked tough but like his predecessors wasn’t willing or couldn’t politically withstand negative public opinion.

For a brief period of time the world saw a new United States under President H W Bush who without hesitation put his army onto the sands of Saudi Arabia and drew his own line in the sand. America was back and willing to do whatever it took to help our allies. After a lighting quick and overwhelming victory over the worlds third largest army with minimal casualty’s victory was declared and the status quo maintained. Saddam Hussein remained in power, Kuwait was liberated and Saudi Arabia was no longer threatened by Iraq. Somalia was next for President HW Bush, he saw a need to save starving people who were being victimized by Islamic radicals and he took action again using the US military to lead a massive UN sanctioned multinational force to stop an injustice, this was the New World Order at it’s collective best. Once again the fight was over almost before it began and aid agencies moved in to save these desperate people, but under the strain of his own re-election loss he was under pressure by President elect Clinton’s team to not leave the soon to be President a mess in Africa so President Bush began the process of handing over command of the operation to the UN. Within days of being sworn in President Clinton sped up the process and pulled all but roughly 2500 men of the 10th Mountain Division out of Somalia and for the first time in UN history put them under command of a UN appointed non-American general. Shortly thereafter after attacks on UN Pakistani forces President Clinton agreed to the deployment of a company of Rangers and a team from the 1st SOF detachment Delta, more commonly known as Delta Force. After the loss of 18 servicemen and the capture of a helicopter pilot which included video footage repeatedly shown on TV of dead US military personnel being dragged and humiliated President Clinton ordered all US forces out of the country (after successfully negotiating the release of the captured helicopter pilot). Once again America said well done we shouldn’t sacrifice our soldiers for ungrateful people but the world heard you can be overwhelmingly defeated in a combat action (at least 1000 Somali fighters died and the raids objective of capturing high profile targets was achieved) but if you put the brutality of combat on display America will withdrawal, a modern day mini-Tet offence result. Images on TV drew President HW Bush into Somalia and images on TV drove America out of Somalia.

President Clinton refused to enter the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and ignored the genocide in Rwanda until it was over not wanting too see a repeat of the video footage of US soldiers being humiliated by rebels and terrorists. At home and abroad US assets were being attacked by terrorist organizations including the World trade Center in New York (1993) resulting in 6 Americans dead and 1042 wounded, US Embassy’s in Tanzania and Kenya (1996) resulting in 12 US dead, the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (1996) resulting in 19 US servicemen dead and finally the USS Cole (2000) resulting in 17 US servicemen killed and 39 wounded. All of these attacks resulted in 54 US deaths, 1081 US wounded, 246 non US deaths and 4372 non US wounded but the responses were timid at best and in the case of the USS Cole non-existent.

While these attacks continued to escalate and be ignored President Clinton strangely initiated the invasion of Kosovo in 1999 by forming a coalition but without gaining UN sanction after Yugoslavia (more commonly called Serbia) began to publicly do what they’d been doing in this Muslim dominated province for almost a decade. Could it be that President Clinton thought that the way to stop all the attacks on US targets by Muslim extremists would be to invade a Christian Orthodox country that was committing a mini-genocide on its minority Muslim population? What did the extremist world hear when President Clinton chose not to strike back effectively after the various attacks on US personnel and property during the 1990:s I believe they were emboldened by President Clintons perceived inaction and with each attack got closer to the Homeland. His attempt to gain favour with moderate Muslim states, hoping they’d solve his problems with Al Qaeda and other radical Muslim based terrorist organizations was naive at best and ignorant at worst and in either case failed as the attempted Millennium bombing in Seatle and the attack on the USS Cole clearly show.

President G W Bush ran on a platform of withdrawing US forces from the Balkans and not being nation builders. He focused on issues such as heath care reform, education reform and after the nastiness of the President Clinton impeachment process healing the divided nation and political system by bringing better family values to the oval office. The world saw an international light weight as the networks focused on his inability to properly pronounce world leaders names and then the election results were so close resulting in a legal challenge which translated into a the swearing in of a US President who’s legitimacy was questioned by many. What the terrorists heard was America’s divided and it’s time to move forward with our plan to attack them at home. The terrorists believed that much like President Clinton’s hesitancy to strike back due to domestic problems President Bush would be afraid to use too much power and further alienate his standing as a truly elected president. True to his word during his first seven months in office President Bush focused on education and touted the no child left behind bill and trying to keep his word to focus on uniting vice being a divider he proudly shared the spotlight of this bill with his arch rival, Senator Edward Kennedy. It can be argued that his administration wasn’t focused on the growing threat instead focusing on not alienating the country any further by reaching outside its comfort zone.

The terrorists were planning and had in fact been given the green light by bin Laden after the successful USS Cole attack to speed up the timetable to attack the American Homeland directly by hijacking up to 5 commercial airliners (the original plan called for up to 10 planes to be used in waves) and flying them into symbols of America’s power and command and control facilities including the Pentagon, US Capitol Building and White House. Due to some early arrests on non 9-11 related charges in Pakistan and failures in flight training the plan was modified slightly to use only four planes.

Well we all know what happened on 9-11 and afterward and the afterward is for another essay but really the reason I wrote this was to answer the question when did we become perceived as weak and my answer is we clearly began our decline towards weakness during the Korean War. It’s certainly hard to imagine President Franklin D. Roosevelt saying D-Day was a disaster due to the horrendous casualties which occurred on the morning of 06 June 1944 thereby firing General Eisenhower and pulling US troops out of the war or saying after the break out from Normandy the war will be over by a date certain and if it’s not we will draw down our forces because the French must learn to stand on there own. I can’t imagine after the Battle of the Bulge offensive began when the war was supposedly won Congress and the media telling President Roosevelt his policies were failures and that his failures were causing more fascists to take up arms against America.

There is obviously plenty of blame to go around for why and how 9-11 occurred but for once let’s not look at ourselves to try and figure this out by pointing figures at this President or that one but let’s look at how the terrorists perceive us, our media, our government, our Presidents and their actions. While the minutia of our politics and the freedom of our press may allow us to be who we are it also presents are enemies with an opportunity.

Remember they see in-action or perceived division within the country as a chance to plan and prepare, they see withdrawal for any reasonable reason as victory and they see negotiation compassion and compromise as weakness. Until we understand that they don’t think like we do then we will continue to lose and will continue to be attacked both abroad and at home. The proof is in the history if only American’s will take the time to read and understand it from another perspective.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insightful

12:26 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Thanks.......I try

1:23 PM  

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