The takedown of Saddam led to a diplomatic success when Libya surrendered its weapons of mass destruction in return for being let out of the terrorist-state box, where Khadafi belonged after Lockerbie. But who believes the pro-Iranian regime certain to come to power in Baghdad is worth three years of war, 2,300 dead, 17,000 wounded and $300 billion to $400 billion?
The Bush bellicosity toward Tehran gave us Ahmadinejad. The principal beneficiary of the crusade for democracy is a Hamas government we are trying to choke to death by cutting off aid. How putting 50,000 Palestinian police on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza with no means of supporting their families will advance peace escapes a number of us.
During the Bush years, the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and assorted "peace" institutes and think tanks have been intervening with tax dollars to support "democratic revolutions" in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Latin America -- what the CIA used to do clandestinely in the Cold War
But meddling in the internal affairs of ex-Soviet republics has enraged Moscow, pushed Russia closer to China and converted Vladimir Putin from a friend of the United States into a bitter adversary.
As Andrew Bacevich writes in The American Conservative, the just-released Bush National Security Strategy "comes chockfull of declarations, exhortations and gaseous generalities ... (but) never bothers to consider how we got into our current mess ... or how we're going to pay for the 'Long War' that the president has contrived as the best way to get us out."
As for our goal of "ending tyranny on the face of the earth," Bacevich writes, we had best address the matter of ends and means:
"In 2005, the U.S. Army experienced its worst recruiting year in a quarter-century. Out of a population of some 290 million, the Army had a goal of persuading 80,000 to serve. Despite plenty of bucks for advertising, the offer of generous bonuses and the lessening of enlistment standards, recruiters still came up nearly 7,000 volunteers short."
You can't run an empire without soldiers. Bacevich quotes Lord Rutherford in the 1930s, "We're out of money; it's time to think."
Have Republicans any thoughts -- other than embracing Bush and, of course, warning us always to beware the big, bad wolf of "isolationism"?