Sacrifice and the Return on Investment in Afghanistan

My friend, Jay Moore — of the late, lamented LibertyScorned blog — has a very heartfelt guest-post for you, which was inspired by recent events. I’ll let him explain….

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Sacrifice and the Return on Investment in Afghanistan

by Jay Moore

I’ve taken a break from writing and, for the most part, politics for the last year. I guess you could say I was wrapped up so tightly in it that I was forgetting to stop and smell the flowers. I neglected to remember that life is short, precious, and not to be wasted on things for which didn’t matter. At least, didn’t matter as much as my wife, my children, and the relationships I was neglecting to cultivate with those around me. This morning I realized that I had it completely wrong.

military funeralLogging in to my favorite news sources this morning, I was hit by the headlines that foretold my activities today: writing this post in the hope that it helps someone. Mostly me. 31 Americans had died this morning in Afghanistan. Most were likely young men in the prime of their lives, risking everything in their future in the name of our security and American Exceptionalism, which I happen to strongly believe in. It was horrible news indeed and hit home very strongly for me.

I need to write. I need to write in the hope that I reach someone out there who disagrees with me. I need to write to be a voice, however small, for those who have none. I need to represent those who, in serving their county, serving us and protecting our security and freedom, no longer have a voice. 31 of those individuals were just added to the roles this morning. 31 young men who were willing to risk it all, to die, for every single one of us sitting in the comfort of our homes, at our desks in our air conditioned offices, playing with our children in the back yards of our suburban homes. I want to make their sacrifices count and I’m having a hard time coming up with a way to do that.

Previous wars have been about massive tyranny. We revolted against King George and rule by fiat in a non-representative government collecting all the fees and taxes but not returning any of the benefits. Those who died during the Revolutionary War paved the way for what the United States of America has become. They gave us our freedom, our liberty and a Constitution that has facilitated a strong and free nation for over 220 years. Their sacrifice and the purpose behind it is still alive today.

The Civil War was fought to unify the States and, as a wonderful byproduct, end the slave trade in the United States. It has been a bumpy road for those of color but in no country on earth are they freer. Those who died to unify this country during the Civil War once again paved the way for freedom and liberty and held high the principals that shaped this Nation into what it is today.

In WW1 we stopped the spread of tyranny but not just in our own country. The world had shrunk considerably since the 1860’s and America could no longer afford to sit back and watch other’s conflicts with a reassurance that it wouldn’t end up on our front stoop.

Unrestricted German submarine warfare saw the sinking of a civilian ship in 1915, the Lusitania, killing 128 Americans. Germany, feeling certain that America would join the war effort, approached Mexico as a possible ally and promised money, equipment and the recovery of territory, namely Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, which it lost 70 years earlier in the Mexican American War, in return for a pact. If successful, many believe Germany would have used Mexico as a base of operations for an eventual invasion of the United States. It was obvious America had to act.

Boston paper reports sinking of USS Lusitania9,721,937 military men lost their lives, 116,708 being Americans. It was a heavy price to pay on all sides, but in entering the war we not only protected our own soil but saved countless lives by stopping the ongoing genocide being perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire that is now known as the Armenian Genocide and returned stability to a region allied with American interests. Those that lost their lives did so for a purpose and we still benefit greatly from it today.

World War 2 was not that different than the first. Once again Germany was dancing over Europe, carving a path of death and destruction wherever its war machine wandered. Although we didn’t know it upon entering the war, Germany had instituted a policy of mass genocide. The target this time being the Jews, Blacks, the mentally insane, the elderly and handicapped. Approximately 11,000,000 people were shot, burned alive, gassed or worked to death then dumped in mass graves. Germany had also planned the mass extermination of the Russian citizenry as well in order to create what Hitler called “Lebensraum” or living space so as to gain access to the resources he felt were needed to fight the war on other fronts. Germany was invading Russia, North Africa and had worked it’s way across Western Europe, being well on it’s way to the United Kingdom. With Japan’s simultaneous attacks on British and American military resources, namely the attack on the US Southern Pacific Fleet moored in Pearl Harbor, America realized once again that being a spectator was no longer an option and declared war on Japan. The subsequent declaration of war by Germany on the United States fully pulled the U.S. into the conflict in both theaters.

By entering WW2 the United States saved millions of lives. We stopped the German war machine and their murderous work and concentration camps, freed the citizens of many nations including France, Poland and Scandinavia. We helped topple fascism in Germany and Italy and sowed the seeds of Democracy and freedom in Europe. Although some of the resulting positives of WW2 took many years to come to fruition, namely the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism, Americans who fought in Europe and South Asia were directly responsible for most, if not all, of it. Their sacrifices and the results from those sacrifices can be seen every day in everything that we take for granted.

I understand we were attacked on September 11, 2001. It was heinous, undeserving and evil. It was no different than the sinking of the Lusitania or the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In response we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in an effort to take the fight to those who would and did attack us. Although many argue that Iraq was the wrong target, we have left it immeasurably better than we found it. We’ve fed clean water to thousands of farms that were dead and lifeless. We’ve put thousands of children to school that weren’t going before and provided 20,000 new textbooks and repairs to facilities. Women previously not allowed to even vote helped craft their first legitimate constitution and Iraq now has a representative government. We lost over 4,400 lives in that effort. I will never “feel good” about the spilling of American blood in any case, but we planted seeds in Iraq that will grow and bloom for generations to come.

Afghanistan, however, is a seething, puss-filled cyst that needs lancing. We went to Afghanistan to track down and eradicate those who would and did attack us; but, unlike other wars we’ve fought, we have no allies in the fight with skin in the game. No one, including the new leadership, really wants us there. We’ve now fought in the longest conflict on record for the United States in history. We’ve been there almost 11 years, folks. 11 years and things just keep getting worse.

Coalition Military Fatalities By Year

Year US UK Other Total
2001 12 0 0 12
2002 49 3 18 70
2003 48 0 10 58
2004 52 1 7 60
2005 99 1 31 131
2006 98 39 54 191
2007 117 42 73 232
2008 155 51 89 295
2009 317 108 96 521
2010 499 103 109 711
2011 279 29 66 374
Total 1725 377 553 2655

 

The casualties pile up, and I see no benefit in the short or long term. I will never discount the individual sacrifices made by the men and women in our military no matter the motivation which led to it. They don’t get to pick their fights, choose their theater of operations or rules of engagement. I hold no one in more high esteem than those who have served and currently do so. My family has had skin in the game in every single war since the American Revolution. From my great x a billion grandfather, William Moore, who fought in both the American Revolution as a young man and the War of 1812 as a not so young man to my cousin B, whom I am very proud of, who served in Afghanistan and other locations. I hold their sacrifices high, but the ratio of sacrifice to results just isn’t there.

President Obama ran on an anti-war platform, stating he was going to “bring the troops home.” This is the one and only single thing that I agreed with him on. I’m not particularly “anti-war”, just anti-Afghan War. He never followed through. He was too busy with pushing Obamacare, Card Check, Cap n’ Trade and other generally destructive policies.

What about Yemen? What about Syria? What about the many other nations that harbor terrorists and further their cause? Are we to think that now we have to invade Oman or Jordan? We’re not at war with a particular Nation or region. We’re at war with belief and ideology for which no borders exist. Individuals involved in the 9/11 attacks trained on our own soil. Shall we invade flight schools and Best Westerns across the country? Many of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks never stepped foot in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber who almost took a packed passenger jet out of the sky over Chicago a few years back, was from Nigeria and Kenya.

 

American troops in Afghanistan

American troops in Afghanistan

Our approach to the War on Terror needs a severe redesign, but unfortunately our President and DHS have nothing to offer other than repeating the Bush plan. Credit does go to Bush for the fact that after 9/11 we have not seen another domestic terror attack. But, how much of that is attributable to the war in Afghanistan compared to aggressive intelligence gathering, both domestically and abroad?

As a Nation we are so concerned with what the “International Community” and the UN think about the way we fight our wars that our rules of engagement are no longer aimed at minimizing our casualties and winning the war as fast as possible. Now, even with all the drone and weapons technologies we possess, we’re fighting the war door to door, afraid that a few civilian casualties will make someone mad at us. We should be running air sorties and sending in cruise missiles from the Gulf, not sending our boys door to door like Mormons trying to “convert” the indigenous population. (No offense meant to Mormons.)

We need to recognize that long term involvement in Afghanistan was a mistake, cut our losses and get the hell out. Some say that now that we’re there, we can’t just leave the Afghani people high and dry. I say we can. They don’t want us there, the Afghan Government wants “open talks” with the Taliban and yet are more than happy to take advantage of the security we provide the Government. If we can’t get a small country the size of Texas in line with the full might of the US Military in almost 11 years, we have no business being there at all.

I am sick and tired of American Blood being wasted on endeavors that effect no real impact on the world we live in. Let our Military do their job or bring them home.

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