The Next Quagmire

Non-G.I. Joe Lieberman, Dick Cheney’s fellow Vietnam-era draft dodger turned warmonger, said on the Dec. 27 edition of Fox News Sunday that "Yemen is now one of the centers of that fight." It’s difficult to tell from reading the transcript of the interview between Joe and Chris Wallace what exactly Joe means by "that fight." Does he mean the fight against al-Qaeda, or the fight the military-industrial-congressional complex is waging to ensure that we have a Long War of 50 years’ duration or more?

"If we don’t act preemptively," Joe warned, "Yemen will be tomorrow’s war. That’s the danger we face." Yet, as Joe acknowledged, we already have a "growing presence" in Yemen: "Special Operations, Green Berets, intelligence [i.e., CIA]." We have also carried out carrier-based and cruise missile air strikes on Yemen, so Joe obviously has something more robust in mind, like a Yemen surge.

The U.S. Army, including its head honcho, "King David" Petraeus, will be all in favor of that. What better excuse to make the Army an even bigger force than we’re already making it by entangling ourselves in another boots-on-the-ground quagmire we can never extract ourselves from?

"Conservative of the Year" Dick Cheney accused the Obama administration of "trying to pretend we’re not at war." I think it’s safe to say that the Obama administration is well aware that we’re at war – two wars, in fact, that the Cheney administration stumbled into, couldn’t win, and kept going long enough to dump into their Democratic successors’ laps.

If you treat Pakistan as a separate country from Afghanistan, like the rest of the world does, we’re in three wars. We’re in four if you consider what we’re already up to in Yemen, five if you tack on the villages we’ve blown the smithereens out of in Somalia. And if you count our involvement of one sort or other in every whack-a-do the Israelis pull, you’ll lose count of how many wars we’re in.

If we surge in Yemen, we’ll have to conduct counterinsurgency operations, of course, because that’s what takes the most troops and the most time and costs the most money and has the least effect on the supposed objective of disrupting international terrorist networks.

Lieberman says we have a good relationship with the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has in essence been president of Yemen since 1978. Some say Saleh played a role in the plot to assassinate the previous president, Ibrahim al-Hamdi, who in turn was leader of a coup that overthrew the regime of President Abdul Rahman al-Iryani in 1974. So Saleh is just the kind of enlightened guy we want to cuddle up with.

Joe apparently thinks our "good relationship" with Saleh is a portent of successful escalated military operations in Yemen. Joe must have forgotten the great relationship we’ve had with Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, who just stole two elections and who runs the second most corrupt country in the world. The most corrupt country is Somalia, which doesn’t actually have a government at all but which is another country Bill Kristol and the neocons want to invade. What better place to nation-build than in a country that isn’t a nation?

We were sleeping-bag buds with Gen. Perez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president and virtual military dictator, until he stepped down in the face of impeachment charges in 2008. We were cordial with the follow-on president, Asif Ali Zardari, until Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani stripped Zardari of his powers and reestablished the military as Pakistan’s permanent ruling establishment. As recently as July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ruled out the possibility of a military government coming back into power in Pakistan. Now that Zardari is facing criminal charges and is little more than a figurehead, Hillary appears to be cutting dope deals with Kayani.

We were thick as thieves with Saddam Hussein for decades and backed him during the nearly nine-year long Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), even after one of his jets destroyed the USS Stark with two Exocet missiles.

Yemen’s Saleh, no matter how far he lets us run our hand up his thigh, has a tentative hold on his country. He has Shi’ite and Sunni rebels in the north, separatists in the south, and, of course, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who may or may not be operating in connection to Osama bin Laden’s al -Qaeda, the one we’re supposedly fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

However AQAP is or isn’t related to bin Laden’s bunch, it’s the least of Saleh’s worries. There are "maybe hundreds of them" says Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi, "200, 300…."

For the sake of going after two or three hundred Islamo-fabulists who brag about failed terror attempts like the one where the rich Nigerian kid’s underpants failed to blow up on an airplane bound for Detroit, lipstick neocon Joe Lieberman and his fellow Long Warriors in Congress and the Pentagon would like to stick American troops in the middle of another civil war we won’t be able to dig them out of for many, many years.

And then, to paraphrase Howard Dean, it’s on to Nigeria, and Somalia, and we’re going to Sudan, and Ethiopia, and Eritrea, and Syria, and then on to Lebanon, and then all the way to Iran…Yahoo!

Historical analysis shows that military action is by far the least effective means of combating terrorism, the most effective solutions being policing and political action. In July 2008, analysts at the RAND Corporation recommended that we "minimize the use of military force" in our efforts against terrorism, and that the most effective way to counter terrorism is with "a light U.S. military footprint or none at all."

Yet we continue to enlarge our military footprint throughout the Muslim world, a course of action that produces more new terrorists – like the rich kid with the skivvy bomb that didn’t go off – than it captures or kills. Of course, there’s no better way to sustain a Long War than by making your enemies multiply.

In his weekly Saturday radio address on Jan. 2, Obama vowed retribution against al-Qaeda for the Christmas bombing attempt.

Anything to get Dick Cheney off his back, I guess.

Author: Jeff Huber

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (retired), was a naval flight officer who commanded an aircraft squadron and was operations officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier that fought the Kosovo War. Jeff earned a master of arts degree in post-modern imperialism at the U.S. Naval War College. His weekly satires on U.S. foreign policy high jinks are archived at his blog, Pen and Sword. Jeff's critically applauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon of America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Jeff lives with dogs in a house by the beach on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, and in the summer he has a nice tan.