I’m an opponent of the Iraq war, but I oppose it on strategic grounds. Even now, I believe that we have gained very little, and are in fact worse off than when we started. After a period of time we will find that Iraq has become another haven for terrorists, perhaps not as bad as Afghanistan was, but definitely not safe and friendly. We can blame that on the idea that we can create a government in such a state that is both democratic and reliably friendly, and do so by force from the outside.
For some odd reason, foreigners killing local folks, however they may express their justification, just don’t become popular with the same local folks. Sometimes you have to do it, but don’t expect it to make you popular. So if you are carrying out a war in order to become popular, for some reason you’re likely to fail.
Stupid, conflicting aims – lousy results. We similarly harmed our own interests when we pushed for early elections for the Palestinians, and then were shocked by the results. (Ex-President Bush take note: People do freely choose terrorists as their rulers.)
But then there are bad reasons for getting out of a war, for example:
- The people will start to love us if we go home after the invasion.
- Force is really unnecessary if we just talk enough.
- We’re really tired of fighting the war.
- This is harder than we thought when we started.
Thus I view with some alarm this report that only 1/3 of Americans support sending more troops to Afghanistan. In this case the point is not popularity, though we may be able to aid the current government. The point is hunting terrorists, in a place where actual terrorists live. As long as that is a viable option, we need to be willing to use the necessary resources. When it is strategically right, we need to be able to move on.
Now I must give a hat tip to Dr. Michael Westmoreland-White, who alerted me to this report. In his case I must note that he is consistently opposed the war, in fact, all wars. That is a consistent and moral position, even though I disagree.
The folks that get on my nerves are the ones who are happy to invade, kill a few thousand people, and then get out because it’s inconvenient. They don’t oppose war; they oppose inconvenience. Theirs is not a moral choice; it’s a position into which they drift for their own comfort.
Americans have a bad habit of supporting the glory of a quick invasion when we can see the enemy running and dying. It’s the hard job of cleaning up afterward for which we lack the stomach. That’s the worst of all possible combinations; it’s childish and immature. A nation with our kind of firepower can’t afford to be so childish and immature.