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Wars of Choice

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Before we get to the things that are wrong in the world - and the list is growing ever longer - if you missed the U.S. Open Golf Championship over the weekend you missed something very special.

A 22-year-old from Northern Ireland named Rory McIlroy led from wire-to-wire, won by an astounding eight shots and made a runaway fun to watch.

The course, Congressional Country Club just outside Washington, DC, played far easier than most U.S. Open courses but don't listen to people who say that's why McIlroy won by such a large margin.

The course was the same for the other 71 golfers who made the cut and were still playing on Saturday and Sunday.

The best part for me was, after he tapped in for a par on 18 he shook hands with his playing partner, and with the two caddies, then walked off the green, found his father and, as Rory wrapped he arms around him, the microphones caught what he said: "Dad. Happy Father's Day."

I love happy endings.

Thing about Rory McIlroy's name is: It seems like it's nearly a palindrome.

Now to the real world.

Retiring Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, was profiled in the New York Times over the weekend following his farewell tour of overseas U.S. bases and foreign capitals over the past two weeks.

In the article by Thom Shanker and Elizabeth Bumiller, Gates is quoted as saying that he has become "more cautious on wars of choice."

"If we were about to be attacked or had been attacked or something happened that threatened a vital U.S. national interest, I would be the first in line to say, 'Let's go.' I will always be an advocate in terms of wars of necessity."

Secretary Gates has expressed reservations about our involvement in Libya. As early as this past March as the debate over what America's role should be was gaining momentum:


"Let's just call a spade a spade," Mr. Gates said. "A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That's the way you do a no-fly zone. And then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that's the way it starts."

Our commitment to a Libyan adventure, remember, was supposed to last, as President Obama promised Members of Congress on March 18, 2011, "days, not weeks."

That, obviously, hasn't worked out and it would be interesting to know whether the intelligence was faulty about how long Gaddhafi would hang on, or whether the President was swayed by his pals in France who wanted to keep the oil flowing from Libya to Europe.

It has also come to light that the United States is now in serious discussions with the Taliban about the future of Afghanistan. As we have discussed here before, if the Taliban would promise not to allow Al Qaeda free access to Afghanistan to construct training bases for terrorists, we'd be out of there by Labor Day.

Gates said yesterday that he didn't think the Taliban would seriously negotiate unless they were convinced they couldn't win a military victory but reminded CNN's Candy Crowley that, "political outcome is the way most of the wars end. The question is when and if they are ready to talk seriously."

We are involved in two acknowledged wars, plus Libya where our involvement consists of unmanned but armed Predator aircraft, refueling NATO warplanes, and providing AWACS command and control operations but does not, according to Obama, rise to the level of a military engagement requiring Congressional approval.


I'm not certain why he thinks that is a good idea - either we should be helping NATO or we shouldn't. If we should, then this is a war-like activity - kinetic, I think the Administration called it. If we shouldn't then send the aircraft back to their home bases and put the savings toward that $14 trillion debt.

Libya, however you portray it, is a third war and last week we were told that the CIA was launching armed Predators against Al Qaeda forces in Yemen which, according to the Boston Globe, "reflects a decision by President Obama that the Al Qaeda threat in Yemen has grown so serious that patrols by US military drones are not enough."

That's four wars, by my count - and my count is only correct if you include attacks inside Pakistan as part of the Afghan campaign. Call it four-and-a-half wars.

How many of them fit Secretary Gates' definition of a "war of choice?"

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