Bush-Cheney war in Iraq is cause of US humiliation in Afghanistan
Who is responsible for the humiliating, chaotic and under-assault withdrawal that the United States is making from Afghanistan? Former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden and even President Barack Obama deserve blame. But defeat was set by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney decision to invade Iraq and undermine our efforts to bring about regime change in Afghanistan
By Ray Hanania
Everyone is making the comparison between the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban to the fall of Vietnam to the North Vietnamese in 1975.
There are many similarities. Both wars ended in the same pathetic manner, with the U.S. withdrawing as the enemy took control. We turned our backs on Afghan supporters the same way we abandoned the South Vietnamese. Both wars lasted 20 years; Vietnam from 1955 to 1975, and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021.
But the two wars are also very different. The North Vietnamese never attacked America. The Taliban did attack American forces after refusing to surrender Osama Bin Laden or destroy the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda.
America stepped in to aid South Vietnam on the premise of stopping the communism, an idea proffered by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954. The domino theory he ascribed to argued if Vietnam fell, all of Southeast Asia would follow and empower the Soviet Union.
In 1975, American forces withdrew, leaving Vietnam to be taken over by the communists.
Afghanistan is different from Vietnam. Afghanistan was run by the Taliban, an extremist religious militant group with broad ambitions of regional conquest, with al-Qaeda as their ally.
Not only did al-Qaeda, with Taliban help, intentionally attack America, nearly 3,000 American civilians lost their lives. Al-Qaeda attacked the greatest icons of American economic prosperity on Sept. 11, 2001: the World Trade Center, and the heart of the American military, the Pentagon. They came close to damaging or destroying the White House and Congress, had it not been for the bravery of the American passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, the fourth hijacked commercial airplane.
Deception by American presidents were used to justify both wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan; President Lyndon Baines Johnson with the North Vietnamese, and President George W. Bush with al-Qaeda.
LBJ exaggerated the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, falsely claiming the North Vietnamese had attacked American warships docked there. LBJ used the lies to build American support for his plan to send hundreds of thousands of troops into South Vietnam to end the decade-long war.
It didn’t work. The buildup and massive B-52 bombing campaigns failed to defeat the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. His successor, President Nixon, promised to achieve “peace with honor.” But Nixon bungled the war, resigned from office over Watergate, and left President Gerald Ford holding the ugly bag of surrender.
But what Bush did was worse.
Afghanistan was a justified war. It was the home base of al-Qaeda. But instead of focusing all of America’s military might on defeating the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, used the Sept. 11 attack as an opportunity to avenge their honor and attack their personal enemy, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
Cheney had tried to defeat Saddam Hussein a decade earlier while serving under Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush. They failed. Bush lost the election while Saddam Hussein remained in power.
When Sept. 11 happened, Cheney and Rumsfeld created the lie that Saddam Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks and was building nuclear weapons to attack America. On May 1, 2003, after invading Iraq in March 2003, President Bush flew to the USS Abraham Lincoln to make his clever but deceptive “Mission Accomplished” speech to mislead Americans into believing the war in Iraq, and thereby in Afghanistan, was over. It was intended to re-enforce the false claims to justify the wars.
As we know, the eIraq war and the war in Afghanistan went on forever, until Americans were forced to flee in disgrace from Afghanistan this week in the face of suicide bombings from ISIS-K (Daesh). That moment is the equivalent of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that LBJ pushed through on a lie to justify the massive buildup invasion of Vietnam.
Instead of concentrating all our efforts against the Taliban and destroying them, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld spent more money, resources and soldiers in Iraq than in defeating the Taliban. We diluted our forces and put the emphasis on Iraq to avenge the bruised egos of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.
Cheney profited from the Iraq War through his former company, Halliburton. He was the Halliburton CEO from 1995 until 2000. Halliburton and Cheney made millions during the Iraq War.
During the Iraq War, Halliburton went from being the 22nd most profitable military contractor in 2000 to seventh in 2003.
In truth, had Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld not been so obsessed with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, they might even have seen the early signs of al-Qaeda’s terrorist plans to turn commercial planes into suicide bombs. There was ample evidence when Bush took office, he may have known of al-Qaeda’s intentions and plans. But they were blind to it and only saw Saddam.
Had Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld focused on Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda directed the Sept. 11 attacks, and not sent our forces to Iraq, where there was absolutely no threat, the Taliban would have been destroyed long ago. Afghanistan would be free, and we wouldn’t have stumbled embarrassingly out of Kabul.
On the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, it is the ghost of Osama bin Laden that can claim a significant and ugly victory.
Now 20 years later, the Taliban are back in power, claiming they will allow some freedoms while applying Sharia law on women, children and infidels like you and me.
Check out more of Ray Hanania’s work at hanania.com
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