Sunday, June 12, 2011

America at War II

As I said in my last post, I just "listened" to two books about the war in Afghanistan.
Many people forget that the United States started hostilities in Afghanistan before beginning the war in Iraq and that our initial thrust into Afghanistan was limited in its scope. Special ops forces on the ground working with the native tribes to pinpoint Taliban strongholds and bomb them from above. Little direct combat by US troops, little loss of American life. Most of the infighting done by the tribal forces who were not happy with Taliban rule. And very successful. It seemed real clear that winning the fight against an embedded enemy was best accomplished through the use of those who lived in the country with the support of superior American air power and technology.

Then came the invasion of Iraq. This time, massive ground forces were used in conjunction with that now famous shock and awe air campaign, and the enemy was again, quickly subdued. While I have extreme doubts about why we needed to invade Iraq, militarily, both "wars" were extremely successful. In each case, the military objectives were quickly met.

So, why is it that we find ourselves, many years and literally, a trillion dollars after these great military successes, still involved in armed conflict in both countries, still spending billions of dollars a month in Iraq and Afghanistan?

After listening to Lone Survivor, I would bet that the author, Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell would say that the answer is because we didn't let the military do the job they are trained to do. We didn't let the United States military expend its full force upon those "turban heads" and kill each and every one of them. We let politicians make our war decisions when we should have been listening to military leaders.

Instead of truly embarking on a war on terror by unleashing our own unique American brand of military terror, we took our collective foot off the pedal and engaged in efforts to win hearts and minds.

We wanted the very people whose country we devastated, whose brothers and fathers we killed and wounded, whose homes we destroyed, whose economy we wrecked, to now embrace us as their saviors for ridding them of their leaders, be it the Taliban or Saddam.

We changed from being engaged in a military campaign to find and kill Osama Bin Laden, root out and emasculate Al Qaeda, scatter the Taliban to the wind, and remove the threat of weapons of mass destruction from the hands of an ego maniac to being engaged in attempts to prop up more friendly, but corrupt regimes and "nation building".

Anyone who reads me regularly may be surprised at what I have just written. So let me ask you this, is what I just wrote incorrect? Would we not have been able to kill even more terrorists, probably find Bin Laden faster, and annihilate the Taliban if we let the military have its way. If we had not grown a conscious?

And maybe we would even have all that oil bubbling under ground in Iraq as well.

What exactly, has our $1.2 trillion bought us? Peace of mind? More security? More friends in the Arab or Muslim world? If our real goal was the first two, peace and security, how much war does it take to achieve peace? How much security does killing, which always turns on the revenge instinct in humans, buy us? And if it is the third, if it is friends that we are trying to gain, then I don't see any logic to bringing death and destruction onto a country then expecting them to be happy with us.

Why is it that all those hand wringing over the national debt seems to be led by the same people who have no issues with our huge defense budget? Why aren't they lamenting that our children and grandchildren will be saddled with the cost of our wars if we don't re-evaluate our use of the military?

Perhaps a better approach is a truly peaceful one. Not peace through war, peace through killing anyone with an idea, or god, or philosophy that differs from ours, but peace through cooperation. Peace through trade which is mutually beneficial. Peace through understanding ideas that seem foreign to us because killing a person for his ideas will never, ever, ever kill that idea. Peace through an open hand not a closed fist.

I am not naive enough to think that we do not need our military. There will certainly be times when our disagreements with a country or group will require a military response. But I can't imagine why we would ever need to spend billions of dollars with massive ground troop movements to express our perspective, or find a true enemy of America when we have military men and women like the aforementioned Marcus Luttrell.

No comments:

Post a Comment