People laughed when Newt Gingrich talked about a lunar colony in the future. Life in space was beyond our technology and insanely expensive. We had no experience or understanding of what life would be like on another planet, or how it would be possible for us to survive there.
Yet, here we are on the planet Afghanistan, also the planet of Iraq, with no understanding of their inhabitants or their history and finding ourselves on the brink of another failure and withdrawal. The "success" of Iraq will soon reveal itself as the country fragments into centuries of old quarrels. We had already had the same kind of disastrous experience on the planet Vietnam.
What have we learned from each experience? Nothing. Or rather, we refuse to learn that "they" are not like us and that they do not like us and don't want us on their planet! We have the dead and mutilated soldiers to prove that, but we ignore the body count.
Congress has been ducking its responsibility for years vis-à-vis our involvement in military conflicts. The Congress is supposed to appropriate funds for the military, but it was never intended to be a piggy bank that any "commander in chief" could empty at will. Congress always has an advise-and-consent role every time it votes on a defense budget.
In the George W. Bush era, Congress reached a new level of abdication of responsibility when it approved budget after budget for Bush's war, with no money in the Treasury to back it up, no increases in revenue. It's a wonder they didn't issue credit cards to all the generals like "American Excess" with bonus points for each soldier deployed.
Presidents and legislators also found a great new dodge: waiting for the "generals on the ground" to make recommendations on policy. What a farce! Can you imagine any general or colonel ever saying, "the military option won't work, Mr. President" or "the total cost of money and manpower can't be justified" or "we're really getting our butt kicked over here"? It never happens and never will.
If President Lincoln had listened to General McClellan's advice, we'd be the Confederate States of America today. When General Douglas MacArthur wanted to expand the Korean War into an all-out war with China, President Truman fired him and took the responsibility for himself. And Congress? They whined and argued and ducked. That hasn't changed.
The Republican Party has become The War Party. Its motto is the new version of Teddy Roosevelt: "Speak loudly, but carry an empty wallet."
Of course, there's always a brand-new Buck Rogers or General Bullmoose urging us to persevere. There's always light at the end of the tunnel, just give us more troops and more time. Usually, the Bullmoose is some general with a chest full of ribbons he got during a war that accomplished nothing.
Behind them, beating the drums, are the politicians. They salivate for a good profitable war. George Dubya and his Veep Cheney were the best -- we were going to liberate Iraq, bring democracy to the Middle East and punish all those Iraqis who took part in 9/11. Whoops! They weren't Iraqis. They were mostly Saudis.
Well, then we would get rid of all those weapons of mass destruction. Whoops! No WMDs, either! Well, at least, we would have a democratic ally in the new Iraq. Whoops! Iraq is already telling us to leave.
The old war horses never give up. Senator McCain -- The Senior Sore Loser -- was indignant when Obama would not get American "boots on the ground" in Libya. Now, McCain is ranting about making Syria a "no-fly zone." Why not? Let's make it a no-parking zone and a no-smoking zone while we're at it. And maybe we should keep an eye on the moon -- who knows what al Qaeda might be up to up there?