Thursday, October 1, 2009

No War Is Good Policy

Iraq and Afghanistan:
Deja Vu All Over Again

Here's Letter to the Post, #24
(It didn't get published, either. Too long, perhaps.):

General Stanley McChrystal’s report on the Afghanistan war might have been leaked a day or two early by someone who wants President Obama to escalate the war, but worrying about who did so, or why, diverts attention from more important considerations.

Perhaps the pivotal statement in McChrystal’s report reads, “Additional resources are required, but focusing on force or resource requirements misses the point entirely. The key take away from this assessment is the urgent need for a significant change to our strategy and the way we think and operate."

McChrystal also warned against preoccupation “with protection of our own forces” in Afghanistan (“Less Peril for Civilians, but More for Troops,” Post, Sept. 23). These two points, combined with what we already know—that the cost of our current wars is unsustainable, that the war in Iraq was instigated under false pretenses, and that the US’s ability to retaliate in force was understood and discounted by Osama bin Laden long before 9-11—should lead us to some fresh conclusions about war policy:

1. We are engaged in wars that al-Qaeda and the Taliban do not mind fighting and, ultimately, reinforce their recruiting and anti-American messages.
2. Serious US losses at any point provoke calls to escalate wars with unachievable goals at further (unaffordable) expense.
3. No other reasonable foreign policy goals are enhanced, especially progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by continuing the war in Afghanistan.

It should be equally clear that the next one trillion dollars we spend on warmaking is the very same one trillion we need to resolve our current health care gridlock. Forty years ago, we proved that we could not simultaneously wage unjust war and build the Great Society. That lesson is even more universally applicable today. Spending for war is incompatible with building a just world in which a greater portion of humanity can share. If we wish to honor the past sacrifices of soldiers and civilians, American or otherwise, we will invest in peace.

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