The Vanishing American Footprint Overseas
With his order
to effect the execution of
Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs, 40 miles from
Islamabad, without asking permission of the government,
Barack Obama made a bold and courageous decision.
Its success, and
the accolades he has received, have given him a
credibility as commander in chief that he never had
law professor, it turns out, is a gunslinger.
president now decide on a major withdrawal of U.S.
troops from Afghanistan in July, or side with his
generals and make a token pullout, either way, the
country will accept his decision.
Yet, as one
looks to the
Maghreb and Middle East, to the Gulf and Pakistan,
events of this historic year point to an inexorable
retreat of American power and the American presence.
Pakistan. Today, that nation is red-faced that its
military and intelligence services lied or did not know
living in a mansion a mile from their West Point.
And Pakistan is humiliated that U.S. commandos flew in
by chopper at night, killed Osama in his compound, and
made off with his body, computers and cell phones.
close to the breaking point. Mobs are burning American
flags. Angry congressmen are talking of cutting off aid
to Pakistan for disloyalty and duplicity in hiding bin
Laden. Pakistanis are enraged Americans would trample on
their sovereignty like that.
Sunday`s killing of Osama, Pakistan`s prime minister had
reportedly told Hamid Karzai in Kabul to let the
Americans leave on schedule in 2014, and let Pakistan
and China help him cut his deal with the Taliban. In the
long run, this is likely to happen.
U.S. and NATO
forces leave, the Taliban returns, and Pakistan moves
into the orbit of China, which has far more cash—$3
trillion in foreign currency reserves—and more of a
long-term interest in South Asia than a busted United
States on the far side of the world.
"Great Game" will go on in Afghanistan, but without Western
players—only Iran, Russia, China, Pakistan and India.
In the other two
critical Islamic nations in the region, Turkey and
see a similar unraveling of ties to Washington.
Turkey has been
going its own way since she refused George W. Bush
permission to use Turkish bases to invade Iraq.
less secular and more Islamic, and begun to
highlight her identity as a Middle Eastern nation. She
has repaired relations with neighbors America regards as
rogue states: Iran and Syria. And she has become the
champion of the Gaza Palestinians.
Mubarak`s fall, Egypt has pursued a similar course.
Cairo has allowed Iranian warships to transit Suez and
is about to re-establish ties to Tehran. She has
brokered an agreement uniting Hamas and the Palestinian
Authority, and is about to reopen the border crossing
between Egypt and Gaza. Israeli anger and American alarm
are politely ignored.
population, like Pakistan`s, is anti-American, neither
Turkey nor Egypt is openly hostile. Yet both pursue
policies that clash with U.S. policy. And this new
distance from Washington is being met with the approval
of Turks and Egyptians. For the one thing all of the
uprisings of the Arab Spring have had in common is a
desire of these peoples to be rid of American hegemony.
inventory after four months of Arab revolts, it is
difficult not to declare America a net loser.
Our ally of 30
years, Mubarak, was overthrown. The new government is
moving away from us. Our ally in Tunisia was ousted.
and ruthless ally in Yemen is still fighting for
survival. The brutality shown by our friend, Bahrain`s
King Khalifa, against peaceful Shiite demonstrators
probably means eventual loss of basing rights for the
U.S. Fifth Fleet.
We are to begin
pulling troops out of Afghanistan this summer and
complete the withdrawal in 2014. We are down from
170,000 troops in Iraq to 50,000. All are to be gone by
had their fill of nation-building. We cannot afford any
more decade-long wars where the benefits to the American
people have to be endlessly explained.
Why is America`s
footprint shrinking in that part of the world?
have never been less popular there, and one demand of
every revolution is for a new government, independent of
the United States, that will defend the national
Second, we are
broke. We can no longer afford the bases. We can no
longer afford the wars. We can no longer afford the aid.
Third, the true
vital interest of the United States in this part of the
world is that these Islamic countries not become base
camps of terror, especially
nuclear terror, targeted against the United States.
That end is
surely better served by packing and departing than by
staying and fighting.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to
VDARE.COM readers; his book State
of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America, can
be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How
Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost
Paul Craig Roberts.