Thirty years ago, I had one of my long conversations with an online acquaintance regarding the military might of the American forces which had just completed its role in the coalition-led invasion of Iraq. Our conversations always centered around military matters, as my friend was then a serving colonel in the Kurdish Peshmerga. When I elaborated on my opinion that the US had lost its hegemony throughout the world, he did not disagree with me. He asked me why I believed this was the case, and what I told him was this: “America never needed help to fight her wars before now.”
From the Revolutionary War forward, we always had allies. Sure, we bore the brunt of the actual fighting during World War II in the Pacific after Pearl Harbor, but only after the war had been raging in Europe since 1939. Our recognition of our allies then, as now, was rooted in shared common goals such as securing peace worldwide and defeating those nations that threatened peaceful co-existence. America was the victor as long as our enemies were easy to define and located in a specific region, utilizing our nascent and often incomplete intelligence in the process. This all changed in the decades following World War II with the rise of global terrorism in the late 1960s, thanks to Russian-trained Palestinian terror groups.
The evolution of terrorism is a hallmark of those years. Israel suddenly found herself trying to respond to non-state sponsors of terror without benefit of her vaunted military might. Even responding militarily to nations that support terror and violence had had a limited effect so Israel was the first nation in the world that realized that effectiveness in fighting this new kind of war meant engaging in pre-eminent non-military responses and thereby taking terrorists out of their comfort zones and eradicating them. This meant that no longer would there exist anyone planning an attack who could not be stopped, country borders notwithstanding. Israel knew decades ago what Americans are just now realizing: knowledge of one’s enemy is what helps defeat them. Willful ignorance is what gets people killed and nations lost.
Today, we are seeing the effects of poor planning and, to a lesser degree, arrogance by the American military charged with managing an extraction of military and civilian personnel from a war zone. It is not a pretty sight and it certainly could have been minimized if those responsible for the movement out of Afghanistan had been given a clear mission. How much better if the winding down of the American presence in Afghanistan had been stated after the fact, not before. If the Obama Administration officials had announced beforehand: “We are going to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden” no one would have taken President Obama seriously ever again. We already have a tall order repairing all of the damage caused by Trump in the international arena. His concept of the “art of the deal” included bribing and threatening foreign individuals into doing his bidding for votes, hardly the basis for peaceful and permanent settlements between adversaries.
With America’s newfound lack of standing in international forums, many allies are rethinking their support and their sense of like-mindedness which were the hallmarks of our cooperation with the leaders of the free world, including Israel. Former Trump figureheads have been flocking to Israel only to promote financial boons for themselves. They promptly should be shown the gate. They are not worth emulating and by persisting in touting what America no longer possesses, they weaken the delicate structure of what is left of the world’s security.