How Many Wars and For What?

As he pledged, President Biden is withdrawing from the war in Afghanistan. It will not be easy since it has lasted twenty years and the U.S. has not had its way. The Taliban are likely to assert control not without bloodshed. Biden will doubtless take a pummeling at home for allowing this to happen. But how long can a war be sustained with its inevitable death and destruction, and one that is no longer in the national interest?

MAIN POSHTEH, AFGHANISTAN – (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As if to make up for this avoidance of battle, Biden has now bombed Iraqi militias that are assumed to be backed by Iran. The professed aim is to deter them from attacking U.S.troops in Iraq. The question is why these troops are still there close to twenty years after the much deplored and altogether unnecessary invasion of Iraq that started the region on its downward spiral of unending war.

It’s obvious time to regroup, say many analysts. A report by the Atlantic Council notes “The core assumptions underpinning U.S. policy – ensuring oil flows, maintaining Israel’s security, preventing the rise of a dominant hegemon and countering terrorism – have been upended by new realities.” The Middle East is not so crucial to the U.S. as it once was. No polity there, including Iran, seriously threatens the U.S. It’s a local matter.

It’s one thing to understand this, another to implement it. U.S. foreign policy is fragmented among various power seekers from Pentagon to State Department to CIA to, yes, the media. Gone are the days of the so-called “Wise Men” who formed an actual establishment and were able to construct a viable foreign policy that stood the test of time. Today the divisions are daily apparent, including the murky doings of a Deep State that manages to avoid serious scrutiny.

The current greatest threat to the US. is also divided – the ever combative Mexican drug cartels that compete with one aother for control of the immensely lucrative drug trade with firepower that has devastated Mexico. But unlike the U. S. they share a common overriding goal – move as many drugs and migrants across the U.S. border in the shortest possible time for the largest possible profit. This they are currently doing perhaps more successfully than ever before.

 US-Mexico border fence in Tijuana. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

There are simply no serious impediments to them on the border. Long stretches of its 2000 miles lack any sort of protection. You can cross freely, go back and forth without anyone noticing. A nation that is involved in protecting borders across the Middle East and elsewhere doesn’t seem to want to protect its own border. Even now in the face of an invasion of drugs and migrants, there’s a squeamish reluctance to put the manpower where it’s vitally needed and make it effective. –  on the border.

It’s not that the U.S. isn’t welcoming. A case can be made that all of Mexico qualifies for asylum given the violence that permeates the country. The root cause is the vast American consumption of illicit drugs that keeps the cartels in business. We Americans are responsible for the tragedy on the border. It’s of our own making, and we are the ones to mend it.

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