Training the Enemy and Calamity


Richard W. Crockett


How many times in America’s attempt to shape the world order have we provided training for a foreign constituency only to have that training and military hardware later be used against us in some new, unforeseen situation?  And what kind of giveaway constitutes training or funding the enemy?  During World War II in the fight to defeat Nazi Germany we “loaned” ships and other war material to the Soviet Union. While it aided in the defeat of Germany, the Soviets kept them during much of the cold war only to return some of them after they were worn out. 


We provided assistance to our client, the Shaw of Iran, and the Pentagon even received proposals from Lockheed Corporation to provide the Shaw with a CIA A-12 spy plane in 1975.  In 1978 the Shaw was overthrown in a revolt that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini to power following an Islamic revolution.  Although Khomeini is dead, this theocracy continues and hovers over a “democratically elected” regime, but the radical Muslim clerics still have the final word.  The anti-American, and even anti-Western, posture of this regime has been continuous since 1978. The present Iranian regime continues to taunt our misguided and futile efforts at bringing order and stability in Iraq, and currently resists international insistence that they abandon their efforts at developing a nuclear weapon. 


We supported the Mujahadine in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, only to have parts of that entity become Al-Qaeda and fly airplanes into the World Trade Center and take 3000 lives.  Following our mistaken invasion of Iraq, the Bush Administration now seems insistent upon taking sides in an Iraqi civil war, which is largely of our creation, and we are at present training a new military for a dominantly Shiite government, which has already become useful in furthering the interests of Iran. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki, who is trying to get along with both the U.S. and Iran, has protested that the U.S. and Iran may have their differences, but he has urged that they be settled outside of Iraq.  Iran has been lending support to some of the Shiite militias and otherwise infiltrating weapons and mischief into Iraq.  And finally, our friends, the Saudis warned Vice-President Cheney in his recent trip to Saudi Arabia that if the United States were to withdraw from Iraq that the Saudis would have to lend support to the Iraqi insurgency.  What next?


The question is, “does our presence in Iraq ‘attenuate’ sectarian violence”?  If not, would a greater presence do it better?  In other words, how much military power will it take to “bring the Iraqis to their senses”?  Can we “teach ‘em a lesson” with overwhelming military force?  If the President could somehow find a magic wand with which he could bring all of America behind the war effort, and if we instituted a draft, and if Americans willingly went off to a war mobilization, and if we occupied every square inch of Iraq with one million plus soldiers and marines with bayonets, and if our troops exercised terror and ruthlessness in Iraq, would we “teach ‘em a lesson”? Would this display of military power be successful in stamping out an idea, however bad, that radical Islam wants to advance?  Would America achieve even a fragile peace?  Would the Iraqis learn their lesson and come to think like us?  Is it a calamity now, or do we need to withdraw to have it be a calamity?  Or, if we stay there and have more Americans die, is that the calamity? If we are advancing the cause inadvertently of Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric and the cause of Iran, is that a calamity, or just a strategy?  There is no clarity of purpose and all affects seem perverse.