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February 27, 2008

Clueless Candidates Make Osama's Day


by Michael Scheuer

While McCain, Obama, and Clinton attend services of their choice on Sunday, all worship at the shrine of intervention-that-spurs jihad the rest of the week. Just in the past month, all three have pushed an interventionist agenda in Pakistan and Kosovo, and, notwithstanding claims by Obama and Clinton, to a great extent in Iraq. At day's end, each is ready to intervene abroad to champion abstractions such as democracy rather than U.S. interests; each is ready to spend the lives of soldiers and Marines to do so; and each advances the Islamist cause by failing to see that Muslim hatred is motivated by U.S. interventionism more than any other factor.

In Pakistan, we are seeing the last stage of the destruction of our most important anti-Islamist ally, Pervez Musharraf. Here is a man who helped us destroy his nation's ally, the Taliban; caused al-Qaeda to mark him for death; and brought his nation near to civil war by sending Pakistan's army into the tribal region. True enough, he has received billions in return and at times duped us, but what other U.S. ally has done so much that is counter to its national interests? The answer is none; most of our allies have deserted the Iraq and Afghan coalitions.

As thanks, Washington strengthened Pakistan's Indian enemy, hectored Musharraf for not doing all of America's dirty work, and generally blamed our coming defeat in Afghanistan on his refusal to destroy his nation to help us. McCain, Obama, and Clinton endorsed all this, and they were as aggressive as President Bush in demanding Musharraf reestablish democracy via an election that further eroded stability and will open the country's treasury to Pakistan's biggest thieves, Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zadari. This "success" will force America to spend more money and lives in Afghanistan, because we neutered a vital ally for an abstract, unachievable goal a secular Pakistani democracy. Only al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their Pakistani allies benefit.

And then there is Kosovo. Again, McCain, Obama, and Clinton joined Bush in gleefully applauding Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia. And what has that action yielded? It lit the fuse burning toward a new Balkan war because America's bipartisan political class wants to peddle its version of democracy even if it means stripping the most politically sacred portion of Christian Serbia and giving it to a Muslim regime that will be a magnet for support from al-Qaeda, other Islamists, and America's jihad-supporting Arab Peninsula allies. Bush and the three candidates have committed America's prestige in a region where no U.S. interests exist. These interventionists will eventually waste the lives of U.S. troops in a bloody attempt to protect "U. S. credibility" by trying to stop Serbia's inevitable Russian-backed recovery of Kosovo and the attendant slaughter of Muslim Kosovars. When the Balkans' smoke clears, only the Islamists will be victorious.

And finally, Iraq. Bush's stay-the-course doctrine is stridently echoed by McCain and rhetorically opposed by Obama and Clinton, but the difference is more apparent than real. Moqtada al-Sadr has extended his cease-fire surge for another six months; the U.S. military can now continue killing Sunnis so Sadr will have fewer to kill later. Sadr's brilliant, Machiavellian surge keeps U.S. casualties down, gives a false sense of increasing Iraqi stability, and allows McCain to rattle his saber while permitting Obama and Clinton to begin hedging their demand for withdrawal to avoid appearing as lefty surrenderistas this fall.

Flash ahead to Inauguration Day, 2009. Now in power, the new president be it McCain, Obama, or Clinton will begin seeing "nuances" that require America to stay in Iraq: to fight terrorism; to prevent civil war; to continue the Awakening; to plant deeper democratic roots. The list of mitigating nuances given Americans will be both endless and false.

What the new president will find is that three decades of U.S. intervention in other peoples' wars in this case the Arab-Israeli conflict has locked us in Iraq because leaving would undermine Israel's security. As I recently argued in the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, al-Qaeda has secured its goal in Iraq, a base to project influence and terror into the Levant and Israel and is already doing so. If America leaves Iraq, al-Qaeda's base will solidify and Israel's security will deteriorate; pro-Israel American campaign funders will demand McCain, Obama, or Clinton defend the Jewish state by staying in Iraq no matter the cost; and each will do so because each operates under the delusion that U.S. and Israeli national-security interests are identical. And the Islamists will have another win.

So vote as they will, these candidates offer Americans no chance of a foreign policy that accurately gauges the Islamist threat, let alone defeats it. Indeed, the debate over which candidate is experienced enough to be commander in chief is farcical; each candidate is an interventionist and will simply abide by the dogma kept in place by America's political class for 30-plus years. After all, it takes no experience whatsoever to follow a script whose pages are now discolored by both age and the blood of America's soldiers and Marines.

And on Inauguration Day, 2013, Americans will find our ruling interventionists Republican or Democrat have U.S. forces fighting in Iraq; have more forces fighting in Afghanistan; have committed forces in places like the Balkans and Darfur; and have motivated millions more Muslims to join the jihad by their policies' impact. For bin Laden and the Islamists, McCain, Obama, or Clinton equals precisely the same thing game, set, and, perhaps, match.

 

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Michael Scheuer is a 22-year veteran of the CIA and the author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror.

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