I think the last time we had a good reason to go to war was when we went into Afghanistan in 2001.
We'd been attacked. The Al Qaeda terrorists responsible had a base there, and the Taliban were shielding them. It made sense. And that was pretty much the last time one of our wars did.
Next we went into Iraq, supposedly to eliminate Saddam's non-existent weapons of mass destruction (Defense official Paul Wolfowitz later admitted that was a convenient excuse). We'd be there now if Iraq hadn't refused Obama's request to give our troops legal immunity. And our withdrawal still leaves 5,000 private security contractors attached to the Baghdad embassy, which is not exactly "pulling out."
Under Obama, we're fighting wars against Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan and drone wars in Yemen. We helped overthrow Khaddafi in Libya. The military has engaged in cyberwarfare and (probably) assassination against Iran, sent troops into Uganda and provided operational support during the current civil war in Mali. Several politicians have advocated open war with Iran, and that we should go into Syria to boot.
The result of 21st century war fever? Billions of dollars spent, thousands of American lives lost, tens of thousands of foreign lives wasted (many of them children or innocent bystanders) and absolutely nothing gained.
Yes, I know we were attacked on 9/11, but Iraq, despite Bush's insistence to the contrary, had nothing to do with the Twin Towers. Nor did Libya, Uganda or Iran. Neither do Afghanistan or Pakistan at this point. A lot of attacks on us there are simply because
we're there, occupying their country, blowing up wedding parties and children (Islamic terrorists here give the same reason). If America were receiving the same treatment, we'd probably react the same.
The wars aren't about our safety, or to protect ourselves from future 9/11s. Intelligence reports indicate the opposite: We're breeding people who want to attack us faster than we're killing them.
The United States Navy's Sea, Air, and Land Teams, commonly known as the US Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) and SOCOM. | Photo: Archives |
Bush used to claim we were fighting over there to stop them fighting us here, but fighting terrorists isn't like the Battle of the Bulge. They aren't an army we can pin down in one spot. All it takes is a few people to buy airline tickets, get over here and start work'and stopping that, as John Kerry said, is a police job, not a military one.
Unfortunately, while endless war is worse off for America as a whole, it's very, very good for the military-industrial complex. The Pentagon and the defense contractors don't have to worry about the money spigot getting turned off as long as they keep screaming "Existential threat!" Likewise, the growing security-industrial complex can count on billions of dollars for private contractors and government agencies, plus greater authority for them to snoop around in our lives.
There's also, I suspect, a CYA element. Vietnam aside, presidents and Congress rarely get much crap for waging war on other countries. They're much more likely to take crap'particularly from the media'if they don't show a willingness to attack anyone that doesn't show us sufficient respect.
Pundits Jonah Goldberg and Thomas Friedman, for example, have both said the only justification necessary for the Iraq war was that it reminds other third-world countries of the importance of kissing our ass.
Someone said back when we overthrew Saddam that the smartest thing to do next would be to declare an end to the war on terror, then bring the troops home.
I really wish we'd listened.