Americans are becoming more and more dismayed that the hope and change they believed in when they voted for Barack Obama is not coming to pass as expected. I doubt that his promises to pull troops out of Iraq will be kept either.
My reasoning is quite simple.
Unemployment. And Iran.
Throughout history, maintaining a large standing army has always been a constructive way of dealing with high unemployment. War can even be more helpful. This may be an uncomfortable truth but it is very pragmatic.
The troops in the army are trained into discipline — they are not unemployed, aimlessly roaming the streets.
Typically they are mostly men, the group of people in society who are least capable of living alone.
In the army, troops are fed, usually quite well, clothed, housed and often provide very useful services to the nation (i.e. emergency operations when severe weather hits or overseas fighting the enemy).
They are also streamed into practical training programs. They are not allowed to argue about many things imposed upon them — nor are they allowed to slough off without restrictive penalty, unlike civilian life.
Naturally all these troops need substantial supplies. On a most basic level, there are civilian suppliers to the military of food, clothing and basic equipment.
At a defence level regarding weapons, flying machines, ships and land combat, there are thousands of defence industries suppliers, from the little guy making widgets to the giant aerospace and defence manufacturers and all their sub-assembly suppliers.
While on the one hand pundits claim that keeping the troops overseas is a huge expense, and this is true to a certain extent, it is also a way of making the money go around.
Sometimes, as in the case of Iraq, it also leads to long-term national goals. This would be secure access to additional oil reserves and the hope of creating a large Arab/Muslim based democracy in the midst of Central Asia.
There is also the geopolitical advantage of already having a U.S. foot-print on the ground in Iraq, right next door these rogue states like Iran and Syria and a flank across from Russia, the sleeping bear that seems to be waking up in unpleasant and not truly predictable ways.
It is also crucial to note that according to Kenneth R. Timmerman, author of Countdown to Crisis, the real operational hands behind 9/11 were in Iran. The Americans know that and are waiting for an opportune moment to strike back. This is tempered by their awareness that Iran has carefully accumulated the knowledge and technology to become a nuclear weapons state.
For the U.S., having troops on the ground in Basra or the Persian Gulf will probably facilitate a safer strike when the time is right.
And unfortunately the time appears to be right now. Timmerman’s book painstakingly documents the many exotic pieces of equipment that Iran purchased from suppliers in countries like Germany, France, Russia, and even the United States. Each piece of equipment alone constitutes no threat — but combined, they create a high-tech nuclear weapons factory.
We see Obama bowing to the Japanese emperor and causing uproar at home — but perhaps he feels the need to bow because the U.S. is so beholding to China next door. China bailed the U.S. out of the global financial crisis and holds billions of American dollars. Worse yet, China and North Korea are large contributors and supporters of the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
So there’s only one key ally for the U.S. in Asia — Japan — a high-tech power that also hosts the largest U.S. military bases in the Pacific.
Likewise, we know that the sudden release of American dollars on to the market by China would effectively sink the U.S. — and at the same time North Korea and Iran are actively counterfeiting thousands of U.S. bills to destabilize American currency.
It’s a pretty political pickle out there.
Iran’s recent comment that “all of its enemies have been defeated” is an ominous statement of where they think they are positioned in the global ladder.
Timmerman outlines a frightening scenario in his book where an ocean-going vessel off the East Coast of the U.S. harbours a simple old Russian missile launcher. The crew rips off the tarp, raises the firing arm and launches a medium SCUD like missile toward Washington and within seconds fortress America has been dealt a punishing nuclear blow by an invisible enemy — Iran.
Unfortunately for all of us, Iran’s Ahmedinijad is awaiting the return of the Mehdi — a messianic figure in their religion. And though some evangelical Christians hold similar views of Jesus and Armageddon in the West, few of them delight in seeking death to ensure the return of the Lord. This is not the case with Iran, where human life is not valued and human rights are a joke.
So let’s hope we can stop Iran and change that grim, potential future. That’s the hope and change we’d better believe in now.
Michelle Stirling-Anosh is a Ponoka freelance columnist.