White House press secretary Josh Earnest recently said that Russia “imposing a military solution” would not work. He cited the Russian attempt in Afghanistan during the Jimmy Carter years and the American attempt in Iraq eight years ago.
This is a childlike analysis. First of all, the American attempt in Iraq was actually working until President Obama basically walked away from Iraq without agreeing of the US-Status of Forces Agreement. President Obama actually cited the relative tranquility in Iraq as a justification for the removal of American forces. However, if only a fraction of the American troops had remained, Iraq would have been given a much better chance at democracy and Iran surely would not have had an easy opportunity to dominate Iraq and virtually make it an Iranian satellite.
Furthermore, “imposing a military solution” worked very well in World War II when the United States and its allies imposed a military solution on Nazi Germany, Japan and Italy to end their horrible atrocities. In addition and unfortunately, “imposing a military solution” was effective when the Soviet Union ended the Uprisings of 1953 in East Germany, the Poznan 1956 Uprising in Poland, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and the Prague Spring of 1968 in Czechoslovakia. In short, “imposing a military solution” does work and has worked for both good and bad.
An even greater problem facing the Obama administration is the current loss of American credibility. After drawing the “red line” against the Syrian use of poison gas against its own citizens, he settled for a very weak compromise. Syria agreed to give up its poison gas. However, the recent use of poison gas by the Syrian armed forces showed the world the reluctance of America to back up its word. The reduced strength of the American military serves to reinforce this lack of trust in America.
Lastly, I see the reluctance of President Obama to use military power as a force for good is his philosophy that evil is on the “wrong side of history.” He cites Fascism, Nazism, and Communism as examples. However, it wasn’t “history” that stopped Nazi or Fascist atrocities. It was military power. It was the struggle of the American armed forces and the sacrifices they made. In addition, it was not history that gave freedom to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In large part it was through the Reagan defense buildup that ended the Cold War. It was the Soviet belief that they could not compete with the US military power given their dysfunctional communist economic system. The very important lesson to be learned here is that many millions of lives were lost and many millions suffered until these problems were settled. We cannot wait for “history to take its course.” Action is needed sooner.