The Tar Pits Abroad - By Victor Davis Hanson
Excerpt: The first Gulf War forced the genocidal Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, but left him in power in Iraq, where he continued to murder thousands. Hussein's reign prompted 12 years of UN-sanctioned no-fly-zones, "oil for food" graft, on-off American bombing against his regime-and, of course, another war. Twelve years later, and after the disaster of 9/11, George W. Bush finally got rid of Saddam. But the cost was steep. America lost 4,516 soldiers to achieve a peace and consensual government by 2008-only to have Obama effectively relinquish control of the country to Iran and ISIS in 2011. Afghanistan is now a 16-year effort. The evolving aims and strategic objectives of the intervention are still not clear. It started simply enough: find Osama bin Laden and punish the Taliban regime that harbored him. But before too long, mission-creep set in; the objectives became nation-building and protecting reformist Afghans from the Islamists. Ever since the times of Alexander the Great, Afghanistan has been an elusive conquest. In the eyes of the embittered Macedonians, the British, and the modern Soviets, the landlocked, resource-poor, and factional country was never worth the blood and treasure necessary to secure anything outside a few major cities. Bill Clinton's two rounds of bombing in the Balkans is often said to have achieved its purpose of forcing Milosevic out of power and stopping mass killings. Some argue sanctions or Russian pressure more likely prompted the collapse of Milosevic's government. Either way, it's interesting that neither the UN Security Council nor Congress approved the intervention before the bombs fell. The Hillary Clinton/Susan Rice/Samantha Power triad engineered the 2011 bombing of Libya that took out the monstrous Gaddafi, who was, it should be said, warming to the West, having given up his WMD projects and terrorist sponsorship. The intervention avoided American losses and an occupation. Yet the needlessly punitive bombing attack turned Libya into a wasteland and a terrorist recruiting ground. Its logical denouement was the lethal Benghazi fiasco. Obama bombed without congressional approval and by subverting UN resolutions that limited action to no-fly-zones and humanitarian assistance. Given Obama's performance in Libya it is probably understandable why he did not enforce his red line in Syria.