DYCHE | Is America at War? - WDRB 41 Louisville News

DYCHE | Is America at War?

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John David Dyche John David Dyche
By John David Dyche
WDRB Contributor

The U.S. Senate is debating defense spending. It is an appropriate time to ask whether America is actually at war, but either does not realize, or want to acknowledge it.

One of this column's political predictions for 2015 was as follows: "A loose alliance of America's adversaries pursue what amounts to a de facto World War III against it. Russia's Vladimir Putin is the public face and voice of this aggressive movement, but China, North Korea, Iran and its Shia allies, Sunni jihadists, and Central and South American Marxists and narco-terrorists are all involved."

Is this prediction, lampooned as ludicrous by some, proving true as the year approaches the halfway point? Let's look at the evidence.

America is in a shooting war of sorts in the Middle East. Without express congressional authority, much less a declaration of war, President Obama is pursuing what he admits is not a "complete strategy" against the radical Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq.

As one might expect of an incomplete strategy, Obama's is not working. ISIS is on the advance, takes and occupies territory, and approaches Baghdad after having already captured other large cities.

Obama, who pulled American troops out of Iraq, is now sending some back, but nobody believes it will be enough to have much impact. Meanwhile, we continue a half-hearted campaign of air strikes, often targeting military equipment we supplied but ISIS took.

The U.S. also still carries out drone strikes on suspected terrorists (and others who happen to be nearby) across the region and providing "logistical and intelligence" support to the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. So as far as an old-fashioned bombs, guns, and troops war goes, American activity is pretty much confined to this area of the globe.

ISIS is using social media to aggressively recruit in America, and the first shots have been fired here. The fanatic killed when attacking a Texas free speech event apparently professed allegiance to ISIS via social media.

But modern war may look different. For example, the U.S. has experienced multiple serious cyberattacks targeting private business and, more recently, government personnel databases. China, North Korea, and Russia have all been implicated in such attacks.

The press pushed White House spokesman Josh Earnest on whether the most recent such attack constituted "an act of war." He would not say anything more than that the administration took it "very seriously," that it was a "high priority," and that the Justice Department had previously indicted five Chinese military officials "for their activities in cyberspace."

Meanwhile, China and the U.S. came close to confrontation after an American warship approached South China Sea islands that China claims and is rapidly augmenting for potential military use. China has also issued warnings to American aircraft in the area.

After U.S. surveillance photos revealed that China had installed artillery pieces on the islands, American Secretary of Defense Ash Carter warned of "miscalculation or conflict." China also recently released a new military strategy that shifts its focus from protecting land to projecting power at sea.

Russia, fresh from its unchecked aggression and territorial takeovers in Ukraine, now regularly tests the limits of American and NATO military forces. Recently, Russian planes have provocatively overflown a large NATO maritime exercise, buzzed a U.S. warship, and conducted missions in the Baltic area with their identifying transponders turned off.

Meanwhile, the State Department recently disclosed that it has determined that Russia is "in violation of its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles." Some contend that the Obama administration intentionally concealed Russia's treaty violations.

Obama's administration is also accused of covering-up violations by Iran of the just-negotiated Joint Plan of Action, the much-ballyhooed interim nuclear agreement. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf looked even sillier than usual trying to excuse Iran after a New York Times report revealed an International Atomic Energy Agency document showing that Iran's "stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months," even as the Islamic regime negotiated supposed reductions.

North Korea just announced that it is developing a new satellite and conducting related rocket launches. The U.S. believes the real purpose for any such activity is advancement of ballistic missile technology to carry a nuclear warhead, but is apparently powerless to prevent the inscrutable, if not irrational, North Koreans from proceeding.

Closer to home, some draw compelling comparisons between the heinous practices of ISIS and those of Mexican drug cartels and related gangs operating on both sides of our southern border. With precious little public attention, America provides arms, equipment, manpower, and billions in money to fight what many see as a failing, but increasingly violent drug war in Mexico.

We may not be in World War III yet. We may not recognize it when we are. But there are ominous signs that things are moving inexorably in that direction. So perhaps we should pay closer attention to the Senate defense spending debate.

(John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is jddyche@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.)

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