Two for One

Mazzetti, Mark
April 2004
New Republic;4/5/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 12, p18
The author argues that the U.S. military is becoming increasingly strained by its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby limiting the ability of America to threaten rogue states with military action and fight the war on terror. Inside the Pentagon, there is a growing realization that fighting two wars with overlapping time frames, the doctrine to which the United States has committed itself for the last eleven years, is now nearly impossible. [B]acking up diplomacy with the credible threat of force is the coin of the realm for U.S. foreign policy, especially as the United States carries out a global war against terrorism. More important, if the Bush doctrine is to be taken seriously, it is now conceivable--for the first time since the cold war--that the United States might actually have to fight multiple wars simultaneously. The strains the war on terrorism has placed on the post-cold-war military are, at this point, well-documented. The truth is that, had war actually broken out in Korea over the past year, there would have been precious few American troops to fight there. The Pentagon's doctrine "didn't anticipate the world we've lived in since nine-eleven," says defense expert Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute. "And it certainly didn't anticipate keeping a commitment of one hundred thousand troops in Iraq for years." Nobody, not even Rumsfeld, denies that the U.S. military is greatly strained by Iraq. Yet, as Rumsfeld has argued on many occasions, the strain is only short-term--a "spike" that will subside once the U.S. commitment in Iraq wanes. But the U.S. military will have significant obligations in Iraq and Afghanistan for years.


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