Iraq/A’stan 10 years Later

Looks like Missouri, it's actually Iraq

This week I want to discuss what we’ve accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan. Several articles here, here here here review the scorecard from the past 10 years.
We’ll skip the part where Congressman Stark flips the numbers twisting the argument in his favor…He’s wrong, but that happens…

It’s never easy to accept deaths and injuries…but we lose context when people throw around numbers about deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan…the Battle of Saipan reminds us that lives count, but context remains. In terms of the history of war, the “War on Terror” has been the “safest” armed conflict in modern times—for our troops.

We can shake our fists at presidents and their decisions. However, after 9/11 about 85% of us approved of President Bush. We soured over the years, either forgetting or disagreeing with his decisions…BUT, The Bush doctrine, like it or not, has merit and I think it works.

President Bush laid out the complexity of the conflicts…leading us to stay the course. How many of us could tackle the problems that crashed across his desk? We had a foe we didn’t understand, couldn’t talk to and wouldn’t line up and fight us. Still, we picked the fight…we chose the desert where we are essentially invincible {Take a moment and consider how remarkable this is—our previous war was in Iraq and we annihilated our foe}and I’ll be damned, those loons accepted.

Today, Al’Qaeda is a non-factor in terms of world security (Pete’s opinion). No matter how its sliced; we won. Numerous terror plots have been foiled…and we are all safer because of it.

We (US and Iraq) won despite efforts by other Arab countries to foil Iraq’s progress (If you click any link…this is the one to read…You’ve not read it…but it’s real). These countries directly worked to undermine the security and stability of Iraq…and failed.
In less than 10 years, Iraq has held a number of UN monitored free elections. They are on their own. Each month gaining in capability and wealth. When in history has something like this happened? It’s not just remarkable…it’s unprecedented. This is IRAQ!!! and it’s free. Iraqis love it they love us!…and honestly, we should be more proud. I don’t think another country would have the guts or even the capability of establishing a independent Iraq.

We can discuss money spent. Yes, there are mountains of wasted dollars when we fight. However, we have the best army; that’s expensive. We in effect export “free” security to everyone. Europe is glad Germany spends 1.5% GDP on military. (consequently? Netherlands, Denmark and Poland all commit about the same). Yet, in terms of GDP we only spend 5-6% on military—that’s about 10th in the world. So let’s not get too crazy about money spent on the military when there are trillions been wasted at home too…again context.

Afghanistan is harder, their country is substantially more rugged—this matters in dozens of ways. They’ve been staggered by nearly 50 years of war. Education will take at least a generation to fix…ONCE it’s standard for everyone—and it’s not at the moment. Outside of the cities, there are no fire departments, water treatment facilities or any number of things we consider essential services. There’s billions of dollars of resources available in Afghanistan, but it’ll take more than 10 years to get Afghanistan up on it’s feet. Should we stay? Should we go? I’m out of words in this blog…but don’t let the others fool you. Iraq is a success; a historic success. Afghanistan is/was and always will be harder…

8 thoughts on “Iraq/A’stan 10 years Later

  1. Great commentary as always Jay. You always bring a hammer and links! I love it. Maybe we should do a point counterpoint blog sometime. There’s much to learn…

  2. Pete, I really love your writing. It is good to hear from someone who has been inside for such a long time. I’m a fan. But The “Bush doctrine” – not so much so. Pre-emptive war put us back 20 years in foreign policy cooperation. I claim no expertise, but there is something systemically wrong with the entire cycle of war. I wish we could get underneath that and think longer term. Right now we are funneling money into insurgencies in the “Arab spring” that will likely create one of the next wars. It’s a broken system. Wish I knew how to interrupt it. Thank you for being there to pick up the pieces and repair what you can.

    • Shannon, If there’s a better way, I’ve not seen it…War is never easy or preferred…but it is an option. There’s a lot of ground to cover…but there’s also rays of light in what we do…I want to point out those beautiful lights…not to convince, but to illustrate what’s real. It’s easy to get lost, cry and gnash…but in truth, there’s beauty here and in Iraq. Doen’t make any of it right or the best…but we have to look at what’s reality and work therein. Please keep the comments coming. This blog is never about Pete being right…it’s about opening our eyes to all of it…and not just what is fed to us by people with agendas.

  3. The toughest thing that I’ve had with this whole scenario from the start is what would I have done. You have to remember that this sector of the world has more or less been involved with some sort of warfare since biblical times and before. So in turn, their mindset, communities, civil structure and plain what they consider to be important is far different from what we think and how we tackle problems. And president Bush, like him or not, was put in one of the unfriendly decision making positions you could ever come up with. He had a historical scenario on his hands and had to make decisions that would effect the better portion of the world. To this day I still haven’t been able to cement my hypotheses on how I would solve those problems, but I bet it wouldn’t have been that far off from what ended up happening.

    As for Iraq and it’s wellbeing as a country and people….Yes, I’m sure that they have been put into a position that should allow themselves to make better of their situation, but not so sure that they won’t squander these monumental opportunity away. To me, it’s in their nature to start squandering. And I say, that it is likely way too soon to declare this an unprecedented success.

    And as a side note to Jays comment of there being no army posing a conventional threat to our homeland… Don’t forget about China, They are a billion strong in their army and don’t care about how they get their money. They are a sleeping giant with the personnel and technology to boot.

    • You are wise…Mindset, whatever it is…for all of the parties plays a major role…Possibly, the most major role. Understanding that mind set AND being able to work in it is likely the essence of the answer.

    • Bing is a smart cat. For those of you who aren’t “experts” in Foreign Affairs and International security…there are some fantastically knowledgeable people who read and comment on these blogs. People who’ve devoted their lives to answer your questions…we all have the same questions. The Pundit also has a sensational blog that I follow…I recommend it to each of you http://zenpundit.com/

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