When I wrote this article, President George W. Bush’s adventure in Iraq cost this country over $198 billion, 1,935 lives and 14,641 wounded. Nearly 30,000 Iraqi civilians have also lost their lives. In return, we have located, let alone eliminated, zero weapons of mass destruction, established a training and recruitment center for terrorists and created a country rife with sectarian violence. Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, believes that Iraq is headed for full-scale civil war.

In “Dirty Harry,” Clint Eastwood levels his gun at a criminal and says, “Did [I] fire six shots or only five? You’ve got to ask yourself a question – Do I feel lucky?” The United States Armed Forces is the most powerful military instrument ever to exist, but the world now knows that the chamber is empty.

The Army is entangled in the Iraqi quagmire and cannot be used to defend American interests in the rest of the world. This is why Iran feels free to defy the world and continue their nuclear weapons program. This is why North Korea is able and willing to make and break diplomatic agreements within the six nation talks. These punks, these rogue nations, do indeed feel lucky.

President Bush’s foreign policy, like his domestic agenda, is driven by blind ideology. Reality and rational thought cannot be allowed to stand in the way of his dream of spreading democracy through the barrel of a gun.

In the world of realpolitik, there is no room for such fanaticism. The threat of force is more important than the use of force.

All the good that has come from President Bush’s more aggressive foreign policy following September 11 – and I’ll admit that there has been some – could have been accomplished at a much lower cost to this nation and to the world.

Invading Afghanistan was all the display of resolve we needed. The threat of force had already been enough to force Iraq to let in weapons inspectors, force Iran to back off of their nuclear program and bring North Korea to the bargaining table. Before launching a preemptive invasion of a sovereign country in defiance of the United Nations, it was credible that a true coalition would be brought to bear upon terrorist havens and rogue nations. Now the evil men of the world can act free from the fear of punishment.

President Bush’s obsession with demonstrating his strength and resolve has left his nation weaker, less secure and more reviled by the greater world community. I can only hope that his regard for a positive legacy and his plummeting approval ratings will force him to use a more cautious policy in the future.

If it does not, I fear that the United States will be dragged into a war it cannot win.

McGaffey can be reached at amcgaffey@campustimes.org.

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