Lessons from Lost Wars in Afganistan and Iraq

With the capture of Fallujah by al-Qaeda-linked Islamists and the clear deterioration of Afghanistan, it is time we both admit these wars have been lost, and draw some conclusions about them.

1.  Get out of the UN.  It was set up to keep the peace; peace was broken less than two years after it was set up when India and Pakistan went to war.  An organization to keep global peace which can’t stop a major war from happening is useless.  All the UN does these days is add an extra layer of bureaucracy on to the world and hamper quick, decisive action.  Kowtowing to the pretense that the UN can keep the peace just puts American policy in a bind.  Before we can do anything with UN approval, we have to get our enemies in China and Russia to agree to it – and if you think the hard heads running those countries will ever operate altruistically then you are certifiable.  When it suits them, they’ll foster wars, civil wars, insurrections, death, slaughter and disease – and prevent us from getting UN approval to stop it.  Worthless organization.  Corrupt and expensive, as well.  Better to do away with it.

2.  We must never hazard our armed forces in battle again except as a result of a declared state of war against a specific nation or group of nations.  The fatal flaw in our post-9/11 operations – and for this Bush bears a great deal of responsibility – was the fact that we didn’t declare wars.  We made terrorist groups and trivial individuals like bin Laden the primary enemy, rather than grappling with the real problem: all terrorist and Islamist activity is the result of State-sponsorship.  The men who flew the planes in to the World Trade Center were not free agents – various nations had a hand in setting the stage.  Even if they knew nothing of the pending attack, nations like Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia had provided money, weapons, training, safe havens and other services to the Islamist group(s) which planned and carried out the attacks.  By making “terrorism” the thing to fight against and bin Laden the enemy, we essentially let the real enemy off the hook.

We know who the bad actors are in this – we know which nations routinely sponsor terrorism and Islamism.  If we are attacked by Islamist terrorism, then we should go to war with the nations which cause the problem.  Declared war – no “we’re not at war but we’re bombing the heck out of things” sort of quasi-war we’ve engaged in since Korea.  There are diplomatic and economic reasons why we don’t declare war – I’m fully aware of that.  Being at war poses a host of problem.  But it also clarifies things.  Let’s the enemy know our intentions are serious and they’d better get surrendering or at least making funeral arrangements.

3.  Force the enemy to surrender – and the more humiliating the surrender, the better.  Humble their pride, beat them to the ground.  Hammer them with more power than they can well imagine, hold nothing back.

4.  Be quick about it.  Getting out of the UN will help in this – it was because we felt we had to diddle around with the UN that we didn’t go in to Iraq until 2003 rather than mid-2002.  Don’t sit around trying to rebuild things after one nation or area of an enemy nation is conquered – other than maintaining the infrastructure we need for further military operations, the local population is on its own.  And if the local population can’t be trusted, then kick them out of where we are.  Don’t leave our troops at the mercy of people who want to plant road side bombs – once one goes off, everyone within 10 miles of that road is moved more than 10 miles away from it.

5.  Once the enemy has surrendered, be sure we take things to compensate us for having to go through the trouble.  Let the world know that not only will challenging the United States lead to massive death and destruction, but reparations payments and/or cession of territory to the United States.  No more, “go ahead and fight us and we’ll not only be gentle in fighting back, but we’ll rebuild you once we’re done”.

6.  And, thus, no nation-building.  We go in, fight, force them to surrender, take what we want, and then we leave.

All of this might seem harsh, but I believe it is less harsh than ten-year-long, inconclusive military-economic-political operations which are hamstrung by politics.  Had we declared war on the morrow of 9/11 upon Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya, the whole thing probably would have been over by 2004 with a complete American victory, our enemies surrendering to us, humiliated and paying us reparations until 2024.  Probably fewer dead, overall – and us at peace for the last 10 years.

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5 thoughts on “Lessons from Lost Wars in Afganistan and Iraq

  1. Amazona January 4, 2014 / 8:43 pm

    I was in favor of striking against A-Q but frustrated and then enraged by the dithering that undermined our focus and our goals. And then, of course, the appeasers made all the deaths, all the suffering, all the injuries, all the sacrifice, meaningless by tucking tails between legs and scurrying off.

    I have been saying for years that we need to get out of the UN—-and we need to get the UN out of the US. It is a vile, corrupt, and despicable institution. If people are truly dedicated to the stated principles of the UN, they will be just as happy to serve in Angola or Cuba as in NYC. Get the institution out of the country, get the corrupt “diplomats” out of the country, get us out of the UN, sell off that real estate and apply the money to the national debt, and decide that we will only get involved for certain reasons, under certain conditions.

    I am completely in favor of aid to places where innocents are being victimized and sacrificed, but not the kind of “aid” that further enriches warlords and tribal chieftains. I would have been happy to set Seals against the Janjaweed, have them wipe out this blight upon Sudan, and bring in food and medicine to help the people put together a government. But I would object wholeheartedly to a half-assed, spineless, tepid response. Get in, get the job done, and let people know we won’t sit back and tolerate this kind of inhumanity.

    We need a strong, trained, and agile military. I am quite happy using situations like the genocide in Sudan as a training ground for our military. I like the idea that they get out in the world, see what it is like in other countries and cultures, and also that they see themselves as the Good Guys. But skip the crippling ROE that put our people in such danger, skip the handwringing and fretting, and skip the efforts to make everyone happy. I like the idea that people around the world think they can turn to the US for help when they need it.

  2. bozo January 5, 2014 / 5:37 am

    Why is Iraq on the list of 9-11 perps? Turns out Saddam hated al Qaeda and did a good job of keeping them out of Iraq. He hated Osama bin Laden and his extremist ilk. He had nothing to do with 9-11. When he was ousted, he had Catholics and women in his government. 50% of all Baghdad U grads were women. Less than 10% of Iraqis lived in poverty, now over 50% do. Turns out there were no wood chippers. No WMDs. No babies being thrown out of incubators. Sure, he was a maniac, but he was a maniac ruling over a sea of maniacs. Everyone knew if you took him down, the extremist maniacs would take over, and now they have.

    Why is Saudi Arabia not on the list? That’s where most of the 9-11 attackers were from. Bunch of Wahhabites. Guess they didn’t discuss that much on the Saudi Prince-owned Fox network.

    The Iraq war was a complete success for those who sold it to the American people. The war cost trillions of dollar and they were (and still are) on the receiving end of all that cash, all while avoiding ever having skin in the game. Mission accomplished.

    It’s a shame that we’ll never celebrate the glorious, victorious end of the Syrian war. We should celebrate wars that end before they begin, especially when they achieve every objective without firing a single shot. That lesson is never taught, or learned.

    Nice to see an acknowledgement that America can’t wage war on terror, though.

    Happy new year.

    • Amazona January 5, 2014 / 11:52 am

      If I had been asked which of the old Lefty Lemmings would be most likely to defend Saddam Hussein, I would have put clownface on the list. And, true to form, he comes through.

      In bozoland, Saddam’s Iraq was nearly a paradise. There were no death squads pounding on doors in the middle of the night to take innocent civilians off to be shot. There were no torture rooms, where parents were forced to watch the repeated rapes of tiny daughters. There were no mass graves. There were no WMD.

      In the newly sanitized, Loony Left, version of Iraq, all the negatives were lies. The maimed who lost eyes, ears and limbs to torturers? Liars. Those who had to watch their babies raped and mutilated? Liars. Those who saw infants being removed from life support? Liars. Those who lost whole families to the killing mania of the regime? Liars. Those who worked in the WMD factories? Liars. Those who were ordered to use chemical and/or biological weapons if invaded? Liars. Those who witnessed their people being taken down by WMD? Liars. Those who helped move the WMD to Syria while the United States dithered, hamstrung by Lefty efforts to slow down the invasion? Liars. The photos of terrorist training camps? Lies. The posters offering rewards from Saddam to the families of suicide bombers attacking the West? Lies. Americans who uncovered mass graves and estimated more than 300,000 buried in them? Liars.

      This bizarre rant of the infantile clown mind is just the most toxic of apologist ravings. Its effort to deny or excuse the atrocities of the Saddam regime is profoundly disgusting on every level. He even stoops to excusing Saddam by saying yeah, well, he was a maniac, but then he was a maniac in a nation of maniacs so who the hell cared?

      I did not miss being exposed to the toxic pathologies of the RRL. But I will point out one things—-when we still had a moral commitment to Iraq, when the people there felt they could count on us for protection, the economy was rebounding, schools were opening, and there was a sense of progress and optimism in the country. The Iraq bozo is describing is Obama’s Iraq, the inevitable consequence of retreat. We did it with the Bay of Pigs, promising to protect people fighting to regain their homeland, and then we left them to die. We did it again in Iraq.

    • M. Noonan January 6, 2014 / 12:35 am

      Some day, Bozo, you might pay attention and come up with a relevant comment.

  3. dbschmidt January 5, 2014 / 9:38 pm

    Risking that I get thrown into a wood chipper I would have to answer the original question by answering that one has to look no further than the writings of Sun Tzu. Broke too many “rules” as far as these two conflicts are concerned.

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