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Shek
17 Aug 05,, 15:00
USA Today
August 17, 2005
Pg. 11

Strategies Or Diversions?

Critics question President Bush's decision to handle Iraq as part of the war on terror. But his approach has striking parallels to FDR's decision to defeat Germany before turning to Japan during WWII.

By Peter Schweizer

Critics have assailed President Bush for his strategy on terrorism, calling the war in Iraq a diversion from the main task of defeating al-Qaeda. But just days after the 60th anniversary of victory in World War II, 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, asked Sens. Arthur Vandenberg and A.B. Chandler? One foreign minister called the idea “suicidal heresy.”

By 1942, American generals were complaining that precious resources were being diverted to fight Germans in North Africa, hardly a direct strategic concern. All of this should sound familiar in the debate over Iraq and the war on terrorism.

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.

Both presidents also faced wild conspiracy theories that they manipulated intelligence to start a war: If Bush distorted intelligence to invade Iraq, FDR purposely ignored evidence that Japan was going to attack Pearl Harbor.

Democratic Sen. Millard Tydings essentially accused Roosevelt of ignoring his military advisers. Republican heavyweight Thomas Dewey, sounding like some of Bush's critics today, claimed that FDR's strategy of Germany first was really about domestic politics: FDR wanted to make sure that Pacific commander and potential GOP presidential candidate Gen. Douglas MacArthur didn't get the glory.

In a very strict and narrow military sense, FDR's critics were correct, just as Bush's are today. Germany did not pose an immediate military threat to the United States the way that Japan did.

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.

There have been numerous tactical mistakes made in the war on terrorism, just as there were under Roosevelt 60 years ago. Nonetheless, we cannot let tragic, tactical setbacks, like the recent deaths of 20 Marines from one unit, lead us to abandon the grand strategy. Allied errors at the Battle of the Bulge didn't mean the sweep across Europe was wrong.

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.

Peter Schweizer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book Do as I Say (Not as I Do).

Bluesman
17 Aug 05,, 15:21
AWESOME article, and a great thread.

I think I'm well on my way to wasting a little of my leave time on this...

Repatriated Canuck
17 Aug 05,, 16:20
When I was in Venice months back I picked up a newspaper from England, I think it was The Observer or something. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter.

I must admit I jumped on the Bush is an idiot bandwagon myself about a year after September 11th as I loved him at first but that faded. Now am back to thinking for myself and I realize he’s not an idiot after all. I decided to do some research instead of doing exactly what I hate by preaching slogans like a bloody hippy. I think we really can win this. Look at the progress made so far.

Enzo Ferrari
25 Aug 05,, 05:56
BTW, may I questioned about the fundamental difference between WWII and WoT?

Germany declared war to USA in 1941 but Iraqi???

dalem
25 Aug 05,, 11:29
BTW, may I questioned about the fundamental difference between WWII and WoT?

Germany declared war to USA in 1941 but Iraqi???

The parallels are strategic. In WWII the "real" enemies were known - Germany and Japan. We lacked the ability to simply march into their capitols and hang all their leaders in one fell swoop, so we had to pick our theaters and assign resources, design campaigns, and even spoon up with some pretty distasteful nations (the USSR) to get the job done.

Oftentimes expediency and political realities dictated where the next big battle would be fought, and great value was seen in the ability to peel away major allies of Germany, like Italy, and in the ability to keep other nations at least neutral, like Turkey.

North Africa wasn't Germany, but there were Germans there to fight, and kicking them out of there gave us secure bases and lots of German POWs digging potatoes in Nebraska.

Likewise Italy wasn't Germany, but there were Germans there too, and slicing a major ally away from Hitler, indeed his Fascist mentor, was a major political blow.

France wasn't Germany either, but there were Germans there. Unfortunately for the French people, getting to the Germans often meant getting to them by bombing French targets and killing innocent Frenchmen.

And there were mistakes made, battles lost, lives wasted. But the war itself drove steadily toward victory in spite of those mistakes and losses. And imagine how frustrating it must have been for Allied soldiers and their families, all of whom would most probably rather be involved in something else, when they knew that all they needed to do was "get Hitler", and "get Tojo". How hard could that have been?

To know and understand history is to be able to see modern day Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as our WWII USSR, Libya and Jordan (and Turkey!) as our WWII Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan as our WWII Italy and North Africa, etc., etc.

There are parallels to be seen in the broad strokes, and even in the medium and small strokes occasionally.

-dale

Shek
25 Aug 05,, 14:03
BTW, may I questioned about the fundamental difference between WWII and WoT?

Germany declared war to USA in 1941 but Iraqi???

1. Bin Laden has declared war on the US . . . several times. The terrorists began this war with the US.

2. Isn't firing on other nations' aircraft an act of war? Isn't attempting to assassinate another nations' leader an act of war? Isn't violating the terms of a cease fire from a war an expression of a desire to continue hostilities? You can try to minimize these events as much as you'd like, but the reality is that Saddam Hussein tried to skirt the terms that ended the Operation Desert Storm, a war began by Saddam Hussein and Iraq, and he paid the price for his actions.

Enzo Ferrari
26 Aug 05,, 06:08
Another difference, no such leftist retards during WWII...

http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/showthread.php?t=7784&page=5

"This country [the US] isn't worth dying for." She's not "asking why we fighting." She slandering this country with her leftist crap."

"Amazes me too. But she's not the only one. I'd say there is a good 9-11% of the population that agrees with that kind of thinking. I think it would surprise many people that haven't been to America that there are people here that just hate their own country and don't respect a single thing America has ever done. It's not just Iraq. This people believe America is the cause of all evil in the world. I think it's pretty sad given how much this country has given to them personally." :mad:

dalem
26 Aug 05,, 06:48
Another difference, no such leftist retards during WWII...


Sure there were - leftist retards and rightist retards. The difference was that the press was not itself made up almost completely of leftist retards like it is today.

-dale

thales
27 Aug 05,, 00:06
İnteresting thread. lots of bantering, but mostly a collection of one sided biased views from what İ can tell.

Firstly in response to this bit from the article:


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.

Everyone knows that the al-Qaeda was and still is affiliated and stemmed from the Central İntelligence Agency (which they freely admit to), and as far we can all remember (im sure) Saddam Hussein had never had any affiliation with the al-Qaeda other than the link that was "forged" between them on US national television. Saddam was never a part of any outer terrorist force, and it is also general knowledge (for those of you who can remember that far back) that he is a puppet controlled by the how does the article put it `grand strategy`. İ fail to see at all any link between an oppressed nation and the al-Qaeda. Bin Laden was allegedly stashed in Afghanistan, so we blew that place to pieces; but İraq?

This article itself states that Bush was wrong in his intelligence about the WMD that were "harbored in İraq"... so he sent in dozens of European haz-experts and no results came up; quoting the article again: "There have been numerous tactical mistakes made in the war on terrorism...........Nonetheless, we cannot let tragic, tactical setbacks, like the recent deaths of 20 Marines from one unit, lead us to abandon the grand strategy." How ridiculous of a statement is that? Back to my previous point, Europe could not find any WMD in İraq but Bush went in anyways, what were you basing your war on? a gut feeling? puppet gone rogue-i need to get revenge? take your pick Mr. Bush, either way your war was not and will never be justified.

Next point:


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.

So Bushs critics have nothing to say about defeating this so-called "worldwide" movement. Are you kidding me? The worldwide movement that you want to so vehemently defeat is a population of over 1 billion Muslims. İ thought the plan was for us to just take out al-Qaeda. Dont even tell me im blowing this out of context because you know that what Mr. Peter Schweizer meant when he wrote that.


Posted by Batman: Look at the progress made so far.

Batman İ suggest you return to your old way of thinking, Bush is indeed an idiot who leapt into unknown enemy territory with İNSUFFİCİENT intelligence on the matter and paid for it with the lives of our citizens. The progress made so far is NİL. Yes, yipee you captured Saddam, and charged him with ...? No not your original hopes of WMD, but on the contrary, being a mean-spirited dictator.. why dont you do something about all the other dictators in the world? And what makes you think you even have the right to "liberate" İraq? Doesnt the growing hatred against Americans even give you the slightest hint that what you did was a mistake? İ for one dont like going abroad and being hated and looked at because im a citizen of the US.

To conclude this very long response id like to respond to Sheks comment:


Posted by Shek: 1. Bin Laden has declared war on the US . . . several times. The terrorists began this war with the US.

İd like to make a hypothetical observation; if you were in the shoes of President Bush, would you choose a) Hunt down the well-known terrorist: Osama Bin Laden (who is by birthright a Saudi) and capture him as an outlaw and criminal/terrorist

or b) Use faulty intelligence reports and conquer Afghanistan - a nation who was entirely innocent in this whole endevour - and continue on with option a.

Might İ add that Osama is still nowhere to be found and Afghanistans majority is still in ruins.

İm tired, good night.

Enzo Ferrari
27 Aug 05,, 05:35
Doesnt the growing hatred against Americans even give you the slightest hint that what you did was a mistake? İ for one dont like going abroad and being hated and looked at because im a citizen of the US.



If you feel embarrassed from being American, joint AQ, France or China,...etc. without any delay. :tongue:

I've pretty sure nobody care about other people's feel if his or her personal safety being threated.

dalem
27 Aug 05,, 05:44
İnteresting thread. lots of bantering, but mostly a collection of one sided biased views from what İ can tell.

Firstly in response to this bit from the article:



Everyone knows that the al-Qaeda was and still is affiliated and stemmed from the Central İntelligence Agency (which they freely admit to),

Everyone minus one. Could you spit the schlongs out of your mouth long enough to educate me on the involvement of the CIA with Al Qaeda?

-dale

Shek
27 Aug 05,, 14:34
İnteresting thread. lots of bantering, but mostly a collection of one sided biased views from what İ can tell.

Firstly in response to this bit from the article:



Everyone knows that the al-Qaeda was and still is affiliated and stemmed from the Central İntelligence Agency (which they freely admit to), and as far we can all remember (im sure) Saddam Hussein had never had any affiliation with the al-Qaeda other than the link that was "forged" between them on US national television. Saddam was never a part of any outer terrorist force, and it is also general knowledge (for those of you who can remember that far back) that he is a puppet controlled by the how does the article put it `grand strategy`. İ fail to see at all any link between an oppressed nation and the al-Qaeda. Bin Laden was allegedly stashed in Afghanistan, so we blew that place to pieces; but İraq?

This article itself states that Bush was wrong in his intelligence about the WMD that were "harbored in İraq"... so he sent in dozens of European haz-experts and no results came up; quoting the article again: "There have been numerous tactical mistakes made in the war on terrorism...........Nonetheless, we cannot let tragic, tactical setbacks, like the recent deaths of 20 Marines from one unit, lead us to abandon the grand strategy." How ridiculous of a statement is that? Back to my previous point, Europe could not find any WMD in İraq but Bush went in anyways, what were you basing your war on? a gut feeling? puppet gone rogue-i need to get revenge? take your pick Mr. Bush, either way your war was not and will never be justified.

Next point:



So Bushs critics have nothing sto say about defeating this so-called "worldwide" movement. Are you kidding me? The worldwide movement that you want to so vehemently defeat is a population of over 1 billion Muslims. İ thought the plan was for us to just take out al-Qaeda. Dont even tell me im blowing this out of context because you know that what Mr. Peter Schweizer meant when he wrote that.



Batman İ suggest you return to your old way of thinking, Bush is indeed an idiot who leapt into unknown enemy territory with İNSUFFİCİENT intelligence on the matter and paid for it with the lives of our citizens. The progress made so far is NİL. Yes, yipee you captured Saddam, and charged him with ...? No not your original hopes of WMD, but on the contrary, being a mean-spirited dictator.. why dont you do something about all the other dictators in the world? And what makes you think you even have the right to "liberate" İraq? Doesnt the growing hatred against Americans even give you the slightest hint that what you did was a mistake? İ for one dont like going abroad and being hated and looked at because im a citizen of the US.

To conclude this very long response id like to respond to Sheks comment:



İd like to make a hypothetical observation; if you were in the shoes of President Bush, would you choose a) Hunt down the well-known terrorist: Osama Bin Laden (who is by birthright a Saudi) and capture him as an outlaw and criminal/terrorist

or b) Use faulty intelligence reports and conquer Afghanistan - a nation who was entirely innocent in this whole endevour - and continue on with option a.

Might İ add that Osama is still nowhere to be found and Afghanistans majority is still in ruins.

İm tired, good night.

Thales,

1. The US didn't create OBL. See link below for the detailed quotes from multiple sources supporting the summary below (it includes a quote from Al Zawahiri, #2 man in AQ).

http://usinfo.state.gov/media/Archive/2005/Jan/24-318760.html

In summary:

• U.S. covert aid went to the Afghans, not to the "Afghan Arabs."

• The "Afghan Arabs" were funded by Arab sources, not by the United States.

• United States never had "any relationship whatsoever" with Osama bin Laden.

• The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Arab backing for the "Afghan Arabs," and bin Laden's own decisions "created" Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, not the United States.

2. The bipartisan 9/11 Commission report found that there was no foreknowledge of 9/11 by Saddam. It didn't investigate Saddam and his links to terrorism. However, the bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee did study this question, and found many links between Saddam and terrorism. While it didn't find an operational relationship between Saddam and AQ, it did find a exploratory relationship that was evolving. Subsequent reporting using documents captured in Iraq and other sources has revealed more information that wasn't available to either the 9/11 Commission and the Senate Armed Services Committee report. Do you need links to these official reports and subsequent reporting?

3. The Taliban, who was ruling Afghanistan, had an operational relationship with AQ. You're the first person that I can recall that wants to deny this relationship. How thick is your tin foil hat? As far as destroying Afghanistan, the use of force has been very selective, and while mistakes have been made, Afghanistan was not destroyed by coalition forces following 9/11. Just as in Iraq, the decay of the infrastructure was the result of three decades of neglect. In Afghanistan, this neglect was under a puppet communist government, the subsequent jihad by the mujahadeen, then years of deadly civil war, and finally the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

4. Your question to me presents a false dichotomy in addition to being a strawman. Due to the capabilities of the US and the different agencies involved, we are not limited to a single geopolitical action at a time. There's your false dichotomy. Now, let's move on to the strawman. You present Afghanistan as an effort to "conquer" Afghanistan. You should stay more abreast of affairs as they happen. While it has evolved, the Bush Doctrine would be your first stop - there is no distinction between regimes that harbor terrorists and terrorists. So, by harboring AQ, the Taliban put themselves in the crosshairs. However, that is only the start of the strategy. The next part was to establish a government that would be capable of providing stability and preventing the return of terrorist sanctuaries. Thus, that is why you have an elected executive and have legislative elections is less than a month. A government of the people for the people. Aghani security forces are still growing and improving. There is still violence by the Taliban in some of the outer regions, but the trend line has been steadily moving up.