News & Politics  
comments_image Comments

The Utter Insanity of America's Military Policy

How the "secret" Saudi base fosters blowback, and repeats the CIA's pattern of stupidity.

Continued from previous page

 
 
Share
 
 
 

“Stuff Happens”

This should be getting more familiar to you. It might also strike you -- though it certainly didn’t Washington back in 2002-2003 -- that there was no reason things should turn out better the second time around. With that new “secret Saudi base” in mind, remember that somewhere in the urge to invade Iraq was the desire to find a place in the heart of the planet’s oil lands where the Pentagon would be welcome to create not “ enduring camps” (please don't call them "permanent bases"!) -- and hang in for  enduring decades to come.

So in early April 2003, invading American troops entered a chaotic Baghdad, a city being looted. (“Stuff happens,”  commented Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in response.) On April 29th, Rumsfeld held a  news conference with Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, broadcast on Saudi TV, announcing that the U.S. would pull all its combat troops out of that country. No more garrisons in Saudi Arabia.  Ever.  U.S. air operations were to move to al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.  As for the rest, there was no need even to mention Iraq. This was just two days before President Bush landed a jet, Top Gun-style, on an aircraft carrier off San Diego and -- under a White House-produced banner reading “ Mission Accomplished” -- declared “the end of major combat operations in Iraq.” And all’s well that ends well, no?

You know the rest, the various predictable disasters that followed (as well as the predictably unpredictable ones). But don’t think that, as America’s leaders repeat their mistakes endlessly -- using varying tactics, ranging from  surges to counterinsurgency to  special operations raids to drones, all to similar purposes -- everything remains repetitively the same. Not at all. The repeated invasions, occupations, interventions, drone wars, and the like have played a major role in the  unraveling of the Greater Middle East and increasingly of  northern Africa as well.

Here, in fact, is a rule of thumb for you: keep your eye on the latest drone bases the CIA and the U.S. military are setting up abroad -- in  Niger, near its border with Mali, for example -- and you have a reasonable set of markers for tracing the further destabilization of the planet. Each eerily familiar tactical course change (always treated as a brilliant strategic coup) each next application of force, and more things "metastasize."

And so we reach this moment and the news of that two-year-old secret Saudi drone base. You might ask yourself, given the previous history of U.S. bases in that country, why the CIA or any administration would entertain the idea of opening a new U.S. outpost there. Evidently, it’s the equivalent of catnip for cats; they just couldn’t help themselves.

We don’t, of course, know whether they blanked out on recent history or simply dismissed it out of hand, but we do know that once again garrisoning Saudi Arabia seemed too alluring to resist.  Without a Saudi base, how could they conveniently strike al-Qaeda wannabes in a neighboring land they were already attacking from the air? And if they weren't to concentrate every last bit of drone power on taking out al-Qaeda types (and  civilians) in Yemen, one of the more resource-poor and poverty-stricken places on the planet?  Why, the next thing you know, al-Qaeda might indeed be ruling a Middle Eastern Caliphate.  And after that, who knows? The world?

Honestly, could there have been a stupider gamble to take (again)? This is the sort of thing that helps you understand why conspiracy theories get started -- because people in the everyday world just can’t accept that, in Washington, dumb and then dumber is the order of the day.