So American troops have left or are leaving Iraq after some nine years and 4,500 U.S. dead and thousands more wounded (not to mention millions of Iraqis).
So what was that all about?
This is not the conventional end of a war with the enemy signing surrender papers in a railroad car or on the deck of a ship and in fact it would be hard to say who the enemy was.
If this is what it takes to get rid of one man, Saddam Hussein, someone the U.S. once supported, it certainly was not worth it.
It is true that the real basis for the U.S. to involve itself in armed conflict over there was to keep the Mid East oil supply open. But we did not even get a firm lock on that. The Chinese get oil from there and committed not one troop.
It seems we have set a precedent or a pattern for our modern warfare. We do not go for victory in the traditional sense but instead just bumble along and finally quit. Part of the problem is that we get ourselves into things which promise no real solution from the beginning. This is not a criticism of those who fought and those who died or were wounded. It is a criticism of our leadership and maybe of the American people (of which I am one) as a whole.
Without the acquiescence of the American people (not me, not you, but the people as a whole) we would have never gotten involved.
We are still at a stalemate in Afghanistan. We might do well to just leave now — declare victory and leave, as it were.
The good news is that if we leave these places no more troops die and we could potentially save billions to trillions of dollars to be used much more productively somewhere else.
All of this does not mean we become cowards or complete isolationists or we let our military power deteriorate. We have to be involved in the world as we are still the world’s super power and the leader in democracy. We do need to use our power more wisely and selectively.
I wonder how we recruit people to be in the military when they see the history now is that they are called to sacrifice for lost causes.
Iraq may or may not turn out to be a better place, but that is up to and always has been up to the Iraqis. There is a freedom movement going on in that part of the world. It may not exactly look like what we would prefer at all times, but with modern communication people will not be held down forever. Our interventions at times may do more harm than good and besides they are just too expensive in blood and treasure for us.
There still may be times where we have to act. For instance we could not allow Iran to block the straits of Hormuz. We could not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon — by their deeds and words that nation has proven it is not responsible enough to handle such awesome power.
And if in the future we deem it necessary to intervene militarily anywhere in the world, we should first have a clear and realistic strategy for complete victory. To fight a war and settle for less, while allowing young (and not so young) men and women to die for the cause, is almost as immoral as fighting an unjust war.
I heard one pundit interviewed (didn’t catch the name) who when asked if Iraq was worth it answered that you can’t think of the initial reasoning for our involvement, you just have to see what positives you can salvage from it.