Ann Coulter’s History Lesson
If only Ms. Coulter would be honest enough to admit that she is a bona-fide political satirist, in a tongue in cheek sort of way, her commentaries would be both funny and entertaining. However it is in her attempts at serious political commentary that she falls far short of the mark in saying anything that is either intelligent or historically accurate. Ms. Coulters’ latest attempt at analyzing military affairs in Southwest Asia shows just to what extent she has wandered out of her league and has now entered into a realm where she is neither a qualified or competent commentator.
Her recent article: “Natural Born Losers”; which appeared on 14 October, is just another case in point in a continuing litany of misconceived and misguided missives. In this latest attempt at maligning the Obama Administration, Coulter claims that Obama’s difficult choices in Afghanistan are his alone, uninfluenced by the previous administrations’ efforts there or the course of Afghanistan’s history. Coulter points out that President Bush had “removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan” as if they had been eradicated down to the last man and their ideology obliterated from every hollow and ridge in the region. Coulter tries to make the argument that Bush’s invasion of Iraq constitutes some sort of military masterstroke whereby he purposely created a showdown with Islamic extremists. In Coulter’s own words:” By design, Iraq was the central front on the war on terrorism” and that Iraq would become a “flytrap for Islamic crazies.” In reality, anyone who has taken the time to read any of the National Intelligence Estimates produced during the height of the Iraqi insurgency knows that the intelligence community never attributed Al Qaeda’ with more than a five to seven percent participation rate in the violence and mayhem that beset Iraq at that time. The cold fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the insurgents that we killed in Iraq were Iraqis and not fighters backed by or ideologically aligned with Al Qaeda. The argument that we were fighting them there so we would not have to fight them on the streets of America is as conceptually flawed today as it was during Vietnam. In reality some of our own occupation polices in Iraq would come to produce many of the Islamic extremists that we would face off against in this supposed “flytrap.” On this years’ anniversary of 9/11, General Charles C. Krulak, retired Commandant of the Marine Corp and a former Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph P. Hoar, took Vice president Cheney to task on policies of “enhanced interrogation and its affect on terrorist recruitment. To quote the Generals: “In the fear that followed 9/11, Americans were told that defeating Al Qaeda would require us to “take off the gloves.” As a former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and a retired Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command, we knew that was a recipe for disaster. We have seen American troops die at the hands of foreign fighters recruited with stories about tortured Muslim detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. And yet Mr. Cheney and others who orchestrated America’s disastrous trip to “the dark side” continue to assert – against all evidence — that torture “worked” and that our country is better off for having gone there.”
Coulter claims: “ The most important part of warfare is picking your battlefield, and President Bush picked Iraq for a reason.” Well Bush may very well have had a reason for picking Iraq as a battlefield. But if it was for the purposes of eliminating those who were behind the 9/11 terror attacks he was as off course militarily as Coulter is in her attempts at political and military analysis. Consider the following lesson from the Second World War. In the run up to hostilities the Roosevelt Administration knew that Germany was the more formidable foe. A week after Pearl Harbor, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. At that time Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria were Axis allies. Spain and Portugal were fascist neutrals who allowed their citizens to voluntarily serve with the Germans in Russia. Although we were initially attacked by Japan, we focused our primary war effort on the unconditional defeat of Germany and those of it’s European allies directly involved in the war. We did not invade Spain and Portugal on the pretense that they were in some way involved in the attack on the Pacific Fleet or that they would play a meaningful part in the European Theater. Invading Iraq as a follow on to 9/11 is about as conceptually valid an approach to defeating Islamic terror as an invasion of the Iberian Peninsula after the attack on Pearl Harbor would have been in defeating 20th Century Fascism.
Beyond Iraq, Coulter takes up the situation in Iran, trying to relate our present problems there to Jimmy Carter’s presiding over that country’s “regime change”, insinuating that a weak Carter abbetted the Iranian Revolution. She implies that the recent Iranian post election protests were in fact a drive for American style democracy that has been derailed by Barack Obama’s reluctance to insert himself into Iran’s politics and thereby employ the leverage of “American Exceptionalism”. She suggests that America can somehow create a democratic revolution in this nation that continues to harbor strong anti-American sentiment inspite of it’s internal political discord. But with Iran, like Iraq, Coulter again reveals her absence of an appreciation of history. She never attributes America’s role in the 1953 CIA coup that overthrew a legitimate government in Iran, and installed the repressive regime of the Shah, with the present antipithy Iranians feel twoards the United States. It doesn’t take an Arnold Toynbee to understand that this event alone would be enough to fuel a legacy of anti-American sentiment even if the Shah’s regime had not been one of the most repressive of the Cold War era. Coulter makes much of the recent Iranian street protests but never admits that the protestors were marching and fighting for a more perfect Iran and not for an overthrow of the existing political system. She is either blind to, or ignorant of the fact that the protestors choose the color green for their banners, green being the primary color of Islam.
For all of her syncophantic acclaim for the bygone era of George Bush and Dick Cheney, Coulter seems to ignore the real foreign policy legacy of the previous administration. David Sanger in his recent book, “The Inheritance” lays out a comprehensive analysis of the foreign policy mistakes of the Bush years and the consequences which we now must live with. Sanger points out that while we have been bogged down in Iraq, North Korea went from zero nuclear warheads to between three or five; the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan; Al Qaeda has destabilized much of Pakistan; the Iranians are closer than ever to an atomic weapon and terror has surged across the rest of the Islamic world. So while George Bush had some semblance of a reason for invading Iraq, the end result is that America is now facing a world far more dangerous than it did on September 12, 2001. Ms. Coulter can employ all of the pretzel logic she wants to in trying to tie any and every foreign policy setback to Barack Obama for whatever justification she conjures up, but the more she tries the more she reveals her own shortcomings both in the realm of political analysis and that inherent in her lackluster grasp of history.
New York City