Iraq has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. What a havoc the United States has wreaked in Iraq.
In the raging currents of world history, the framework of Cold War-style “alliance diplomacy” has reached its limit. In particular, the mechanism of the US-Japan alliance that has become fixed by inertia and vested interests in the 65 years since the end of the war has clearly begun to squeak, and the need for the rejuvenation of this alliance is becoming sharply visible.
On July 1, 2010, Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly authorized the U.S. military to undertake policing duties in Costa Rica, based on an expired “Cooperation Agreement.” Just one small problem: Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949 and since then has had no national military forces.
In last month’s blitzkrieg tour of Central and Southeast Asia, two of the four stops Secretary Clinton made share the unfortunate bond of enduring an invasion by U.S. air and ground forces. In the space of a few days, Clinton visited both Vietnam and Afghanistan, thus physically linking what had once been, and then what has now become the United States’ longest war. One of the more insidious links that tie these conflicts together was highlighted in a few of the news stories about Clinton’s trip. That link, in a word, is agribusiness.
After 65 years, is there anything new to say about nuclear weapons? Their immense and almost incomprehensible destructive power is well known. Their tenacious endurance as the weapon, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, is an unavoidable fact as nine nations currently stockpile these world menacers. Their super-power allure to emerging states remains untarnished despite international treaties discouraging proliferation.
Only 20% of respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) now view the US president positively, compared to 45% who did so in the spring of 2009, according to the 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll conducted by Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution and the Zogby International polling firm.
Consider the following statement offered by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a news conference last week. He was discussing Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks as well as the person who has taken responsibility for the vast, still ongoing Afghan War document dump at that site. “Mr. Assange,” Mullen commented, “can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”
This summer marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, where 8,000 Muslims, mostly men and boys, lost their lives in the single worst act of genocide in Europe since the 1940s. For many, the key lesson of Srebrenica is that the United States should have used military force against the Serbs sooner than they did. For others, Srebrenica is a painful reminder of the overstated value of military intervention as a solution to a humanitarian crisis which in reality, could have been avoided through diplomatic means.
Wars are rarely lost in a single encounter; Defeat is almost always more complex than that. The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have lost the war in Afghanistan, but not just because they failed in the battle for Marjah or decided that discretion was the better part of valor in Kandahar. They lost the war because they should never have invaded in the first place; because they never had a goal that was achievable; because their blood and capital are finite.
The massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, in July 1995, is now being remembered worldwide, as this grim event reaches its fifteenth anniversary. This was the largest single mass killing of the entire Bosnian war, and indeed, it was the worst massacre that Europe has seen since the 1940s.