Roll on toward the cataract, Oh Ship of State!

How can the American governing elite be so consistently devoid of common sense and so utterly lacking in any recognition of reality? Most of these Grandees have gone to our best universities, are well traveled, and have access to enormous information banks, both unclassified and classified. And yet, in recent days, the following pearls of “wisdom” have dropped from the mouths of prominent political, military, and media personalities.

  • The sum and substance of the Republican candidates’ debate was that Americans and their government should be furious with Pakistan for not doing America’s dirty work and committing national suicide. Apparently Islamabad providing the United States with help sufficient to lose 6,000-plus soldiers — four times NATO’s dead — and cause a civil war on its territory does not cut the mustard with most of the Republican candidates, or with pundits and Democratic leaders for that matter. What this attitude shows is not the Republican candidates’ toughness, but rather their adolescence. What has been occurring in Afghanistan since 2001 is America’s war, and it will be won or lost based on what the U.S. government and people do. More brutally and accurately, it will be won or lost only through the expenditure of whatever American blood and treasure it takes to win. Except in an adolescent’s fantasy world, America’s task of winning cannot be safely delegated to a country that lacks the resources, will, motivation, and national interests to win it. The Constitution, moreover, has no provision allowing the executive and legislative branches to delegate their responsibility for national defense to a foreign country. Successful war fighting, debt reduction, border control, and energy self-sufficiency can only come at the hands of competent adults, and across the U.S. governing elite, sadly, such individuals are few and far between.
  • We are into another spate of “al-Qaeda is dead” nonsense which is flowing from unnamed U.S. military and politician leaders and being broadcast by adolescent journalists whose motto seems to be “leak me anything and I’ll print it as a fact.” Now we are being told there are only two important al-Qaeda figures left to kill in the Pakistan-Afghanistan theater. While the CIA has been admirably successful in killing senior Al-Qaeda leaders, we should keep in mind — as the CIA surely does — that al-Qaeda has survived to date because it plans for leadership succession and has replacements at hand when leaders are killed. The successors surely are not as talented as those killed, but neither are they ignorant of the jobs they inherit, and hands-on experience sharpens their skills. Moreover, with effective and growing branches operating in Pakistan, Yemen, Europe, the United States, Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon, and across North Africa and the Sahel al-Qaeda has far more de facto leadership schools than it had in 2001. Al-Qaeda on the verge of defeat? Do not hold your breath.
  • As the pimply, adolescent dream of the “Arab Spring” implodes, the U.S. elite is still seeing “positive signs” of a movement toward democracy in the Arab world. The Obama administration believes that the interim Libyan regime will be able to disarm the tribal and Islamist militias that were formed during NATO’s war to remove Gaddafi. Readers will recall, I am sure, how successful similar disarmament campaigns have been in Iraq and Afghanistan. And in Egypt more democracy — or is it anarchy? — is springing up as protestors throw rocks and other things at Army and security personnel and are killed by soldiers and police in turn, while the United States grows more hated because the military is using U.S.-supplied ordnance. Then there is Syria, where the efforts of the viragos-in-chief — Mrs. Clinton and Susan Rice — have pushed that country to the edge of civil war, although the U.S. media reports the protestors killed, while ignoring the substantial number of Syrian soldiers being killed by Islamists militias. One hopes that at least some in the U.S. elite know that anarchy is more hated and feared than despotism by Sunni Muslims, and therefore Washington’s anarchy-producing push for democracy in the Arab world may yet yield order-producing Islamic regimes in the states Obama, McCain, Graham, Cameron, and Sarkozy have slated for secular democracy.

Mr. Lincoln once told his fellow citizens that “[i]f destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” Nothing can tend more toward national suicide for the United States than the continued leadership of terminal adolescents.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.