Recent conversations with some facebook friends about Sen.Bernie Sanders’ recent remarks that the Iraq War will go down in history as our worst diplomatic and military blunder, makes me wonder what others think might take first place. Do you agree with him? Have another to offer?
If we look at the history of provocations, threats, military goals, and political aims, and the ultimate outcomes of all wars and military conflicts since the revolutionary war of 1776, how many actually were not blunders? The “Great War of 1918 was one in which we fought to help our allies to contain and defend from German aggression. We were separated from that fighting by the wide ocean. It was costly, and only set up the situation for the next great war of 1938-1945. In WWI America was not directly imperiled by that aggression, although I guess it could be argued that if Germany had succeeded in defeating the allies, we would have been targeted sooner or later.
WWII rose out of the ashes of that war, because of the manner in which reparations were extracted and the utter depredation imposed on the defeated countries. It was the last war and only war in which we were actually at risk of invasion, so a it was a war where we were defending our freedoms. Had we not fought that war we would have been invaded and forced to defend ourselves on site. I rate it a just war to defend our freedoms and those of our allies, with the Cold War with USSR arising from those ashes.
Which war since then has actually been fought to protect our freedoms? Let’s list a few candidates:
The “police action” in Korea as part of the United Nations police forces was fought to protect our ally and support the west-leaning South Korean government from the aggressions of communist China’s puppet, North Korea. There was no threat to our liberty or safety from North Korea, and still isn’t. But, we are still there to maintain an uneasy truce. That war is not over yet after more than sixty years.
Other major conflicts through the years merit mention, but the one that stands out above the others is the war in Viet Nam. It was another war to support a “friendly” regime, one that we felt was needed to provide a buffer between us and communist China. It was a hot spot in the Cold War. It was not, as the zealots claim, a war to defend our freedoms, or to protect our “interests” unless you count the source of rubber. We inherited the lost cause the French had waged for years, only to waste the lives of almost a generation of young men. Many of the brave men who survived the shooting are the walking wounded we see on the streets today. It split our country apart, for no good reason.
Then we fast forward to 2003: in anger and reaction to the sneak attacks of 9/11, the world was in sympathy with us, and shared our mourning of the innocent victims. We had the world on our side, only to squander that sympathy on a personal vendetta. The invasion of Afganistan was probably justified, in searching for the bad guys, but could have been limited and focused with that country’s assistance. Or not.
Ah, but invading Iraq was based on totally fabricated intel, most from our own government, but all of it lies. Intel which the administration knew at the time were lies, like WMD, and terrorist support, none of which existed, and intended to entice us into a ground-based guerilla war, a war in which we would become mired for more than ten years. That war has cost thousands of our military lives, tens of thousands severely wounded, millions of Iraqi civilians killed by “collateral damage”, and trillions of dollars thrown away, all on credit. It was what Ben Laden wanted us to do. He won. His jihad movement is stronger than ever.
And for what? Was it to defend our freedoms? If that is so, then why have we surrendered so many of our civil liberties, our treasured freedoms in the name of national security? No, it was not to defend anything, it was to gain bragging rights for Junior, to enrich Haliburton, to secure access to crude oil, and on the mistaken and utterly misguided premise of stabilizing the region. Oh, and throw in the idea of democratizing those tribes of Sunnis and Shias, and Kurds. And destroying those elusive WMD. No, we were not there to defend our freedoms.
(How much more “defending” are we getting into? At least the current Iraqi action is humanitarian, so far.)
Take a moment and vote for the war you think was our worst military blunder since 1945. I’ll wait.