America’s Greatest Foreign-Policy Blunder?

Was the decision to invade Iraq America’s greatest foreign-policy blunder? Or was it just the consequence of an even greater error of judgment?
From the April 2008 Trumpet Print Edition

“Iraq was the single worst strategic mistake in American history.” So says former American Vice President Al Gore.

Victor Davis Hanson points out several similar statements by high-profile U.S. leaders. “Senate majority leader Harry Reid agrees that the war he voted to authorize is ‘the worst foreign-policy mistake in U.S. history,’ and indeed is already ‘lost.’ Many of our historically minded politicians and commanders have weighed in with similar superlatives. Retired General William Odom calls Iraq ‘the greatest strategic disaster in United States history.’ Senator Chuck Hagel (who voted for the war) is somewhat more cautious; he terms Iraq ‘the most dangerous foreign-policy blunder in this country since Vietnam …’” (Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2007/08).

Well—is Iraq the single worst mistake in American history, or are these opinions the result of a failure to grasp just where the Iraq war fits within the context of the total, albeit brief, history of the greatest single nation on Earth?

We put forward the case that the Iraq war and its unfortunate outcome are but the effect of a greater cause. We posit that the apparent cause of this war and of much of what then led to the present difficulties in the Middle East was in fact a foreign-policy blunder by the United States made in the mid-20th century. The eventual outcome of that error will render insignificant the war instigated by the U.S. on Jan. 16, 1991, whose effects continue to ripple on at massive expense to the American nation 17 years later.

In fact, we propose that the continuing conflicts in the Middle East result from the fulfillment of an ancient biblical prophecy.

A Turning Point

Cast your mind back to 1956. At that juncture, Britain was still struggling to put its economy back together following the ravages of two world wars fought within 21 years of each other at massive cost in both lives and treasure. In 1947, India, the “jewel in Britain’s crown,” became independent from the British Commonwealth and Empire. In 1948, the 11-month siege of Berlin by the Soviet Union had the world’s attention riveted on the escalating tension between the Western allies and the ussr. In 1950, Asia became the focus, as the Korean War ravaged the Korean peninsula for the ensuing three years. In 1954, the seeds of an even worse war in Vietnam were sown as France’s Asian colonies collapsed into disorder in Indochina and the U.S. began aiding the South against North Vietnam. In 1955, the Warsaw Pact was signed by the Soviet Union and other socialist states, beginning a 35-year standoff with the nato alliance. In 1955, the Alabama bus boycott triggered great social disruption between black and white in America.

At this point, the U.S. was well and truly engaged—its military strength shoring up the West in Europe, training the South Vietnamese Army in Asia, and still deployed in strength in Japan and the Philippines, and its National Guard beginning to be rolled out to contain racial disruption at home.

Then on July 26, 1956, Gamul Abdul Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. This is the vital choke point through which much of Middle Eastern oil transits to the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Israel, Britain and France invaded Egypt in response. The ussr threatened to intervene on the side of the Egyptians. President Eisenhower threatened a nuclear retaliation if it did. But Eisenhower was an anti-imperialist, intent on seeing Britain, the last of the great colonial powers, divest itself of its empire. Instead of backing his British, French and Israeli allies, Eisenhower forced a cease-fire upon them, thereby yielding up control of the world’s most vital sea gate to a declared enemy of the West.

Ever since, the Middle East has been a theater of escalating conflict, embroiling the U.S. in continuing aggressive and often misguided diplomacy to this very day.

One has to wonder, if America had backed its allies at that crucial moment in history when Suez was up for grabs, would the U.S. and Britain be involved in Iraq, let alone in Afghanistan, and worrying about the intentions of Iran and Syria today? Would Israel have had to fight a war in 1967 and again in 1973 in order to survive as a nation? Would the U.S. have reneged on its commitment as an ally of the shah of Persia and let him be deposed, thus sowing the seeds for the rise of a nuclear-powered Iran set to control the Middle East in the not-too-distant future, to the great peril of Israel and the West? Would we have ever heard of the Palestinian Liberation Army, Hamas, Fatah, al Qaeda and all their clones? Would we even have a need for a Middle Eastern peace process?

But the fact is, it was not to be.

Almost 4,000 years ago, Almighty God prophesied that the British would possess the major sea gates of the world. Then, well over 3,000 years ago, He prophesied the subsequent loss of those sea gates due to the failure of the recipients of His blessings to acknowledge their source and submit to the law that would have guaranteed their continuance. These pivotal biblical prophecies are explained in The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

Both of those prophecies have been fulfilled.

Beginning with its victories in the great sea battles against the Spanish and French in the 17th and 18th centuries, Great Britain went on to rule the waves in the 19th and early 20th centuries by virtue of its possession of every major sea gate on the planet. By the end of the 20th century, apart from Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, Britain had lost control of those vital sea gates.

Yet the greatest strategic loss, not only to Britain, but to the rest of the free world, was the loss of the Suez Canal. With that loss came the loss of any prospect of peace in the Middle East.

“Shrill Captives of the Present”

Either ignorant or forgetful of that history, not even aware of the inevitable impact those powerful prophecies have had on world events of today, we remain fixated on the daily news from Baghdad, unable to really figure why we are there, how we got there, and what the true outcome will be. As Hanson opines, “[W]e seem to think our generation is unique in experiencing the heartbreak of an error-plagued war. We forget that victory in every war goes to the side that commits fewer mistakes—and learns more from them in less time—not to the side that makes no mistakes. A perfect military in a flawless war never existed—though after Grenada and the air war over the Balkans we apparently thought otherwise. Rather than sink into unending recrimination over Iraq, we should reflect about comparable blunders in America’s past wars …. Without such historical knowledge we are condemned to remain shrill captives of the present” (ibid.).

Thus it was that America gave away its greatest sea gate, the Panama Canal, almost half a century after its failure to help secure Suez. The U.S., and indeed the whole world, will live to regret those two great foreign-policy tragedies. The failure to learn from the Suez blunder led to the Panama debacle. The loss of that sovereign American territory is bound to have consequences similar to those of Suez in the near future.

So it is that we continue making the same old mistakes, condemning our enemies on the one hand, appeasing them on the other. Our past foreign-policy errors led to a compounding of those errors in the present, in turn leading to inevitable failure in the future.

Will we ever learn the way to peace?

The plain answer, according to biblical prophecy, is a resounding YES! As usual, we shall have to do it the hard way. Yet in the end it will be worth the ordeal. But first we shall have to endure the heartbreak of seeing our free nations descend into unspeakable conditions at the hands of the tyrant. It’s going to be a hard history we write through this decade and into the next. Yet, it will end with an unbelievably positive outcome.

To come to grips with the history of the past, to really appreciate what is occurring on the volatile world scene today, and to fully grasp the potential the future holds, request your own free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy. That book will open your mind, allowing you the opportunity to change from being a mere “captive of the present” to one who has real confidence in the marvelous future that lies ahead of the present global world disorder. It points to a vision of real hope that will take your breath away!