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It’s Unanimous

© Matt Wuerker

So when will we learn to not get into any more wars? Libya I can almost understand, but we never should have taken on either Iraq or Afghanistan.



  1. Dan wrote:

    Iraq never should have happened. I was 10 miles from the border in Kuwait during the “Desert Fox” bombing above the no fly zone line. Iraq had no response then, same as all the other bombing we did below the line after “Storm” part 1. It amazed me how the Bush admin. could claim they were a threat to the US. Heck, even Bush 41 set Iraq up by publicly claiming we had no interest before the invasion.
    Afghanistan should have been a CIA operation, but instead was just an excuse to get the troops over there for the real objective, oil rich Iraq.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  2. ThatGuy wrote:

    Iraq was definitely a mistake. But on Afghanistan I have to disagree with both IK and Dan. We were attacked by a group which was based there. The biggest mistakes made, if killing or capturing bin Laden and crushing Al-Qaeda were the primary goals, were not sending enough troops and letting Afghan forces (such as the Northern Alliance) take the lead in places like Tora Bora, where small numbers of CIA and special forces were used with Afghan militias in support. As the old saying goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself.

    In any case, Afghanistan was half-assed from the administration, who were in my opinion already looking forward to Iraq, which was also poorly planned and executed in the sense of long-term nation building.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    I will never understand the “We were attacked by a group which was based there” argument. What does that have to do with waging war on the country of Afghanistan? Consider that in the Oklahoma City bombing, they were attacked by a group that was based in Kansas — should Oklahoma have started bombing Kansas because of that?

    Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink
  4. Jason Ray wrote:

    On this one, IK, I have to agree with Thatguy. After 9/11, when al-Qaeda made is crystal clear they were based in Afghanistan and the Taliban (in power there) not only refused to help hunt them down, they publicly supported them and promised to defend them, using our military to retaliate was both necessary and appropriate. The whole war was mishandled, long term objectives were unclear, and we committed one of the classic blunders (never get involved in a land war in Asia) but it was fundamentally the right thing to do, and oif the same circumstances pertain again we should do it again.

    I would venture to guess that any President of any party would do the same.

    That said, Iraq was clearly a manipulated event. Bush was going to lose in 2004 and his popularity was tied to the war against terror, so they had to have another target – and Iraq was a poster child of a great target from their perspective. I think it was wrong to go there, and the money and lives lost are a great tragedy. And lets make sure not to elect Presidents who would do that in the future.

    Libya is a different animal and if the UN passes the resolution and NATO takes on the mission, as long as we are in NATO we have to support it. You might argue whether or not NATO makes any difference these days, and whether we should be in it or not – there are compelling arguments on both sides – but as long as our involvement stays where it is I think it was necessary.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
  5. ebdoug wrote:

    Afghanistan 1980s. Women were professionals, women wore regular clothes. russia invaded Afghanistan. Reagan wanted Russia not to have access to some body of water so he hired the unemployed Arab Princes like the Bin Ladens to go Afghanistan and fight the Russians and win. The Afghan Princes had huge families with their many wives. The many princes couldn’t take just any job. They were happy to be mercenaries. And they stayed and formed the Wahebi(sp ?) type of repression which led to the Taliban.
    Now we are getting no where with the corruption in Afghanistan. A whole uneducated generation or two has risen. They can’t read. They can’t read maps. Outside of Kabul, they haven’t heard of 9/11 or the United states. they are ignorant at the beck and called of the Taliban.
    Pakistan has no government to help us. They get assisnated if elected unless they ignore their position and any responsibility it brings as the current President does.
    So do we or do we not have any responsibility to undo the damage we did hiring mercenaries in Afghanistan?
    And now Iran is arming the Shites in Iraq because we removed the dictator there.
    I agree we need to stop playing God but once we do, what is our responsibility?

    Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink
  6. starluna wrote:

    Don’t you think it is worth thinking through the justification for going into Afghanistan in the way we did? I don’t think that internal terrorist groups are the most appropriate comparison, but notice that we did not handle that well either.

    Once McVeigh and his co-conspirators were identified, it was treated like a typical violent crime, rather than as part of a loose-knit network comprised of people with similar, but not identical, ideologies and motivations who are willing and able to use terrorist tactics to institutional a political viewpoint, catalyze political change, or make some political message. Sound similar? It should because this also describes the groups that the media put under the banner of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

    If there are similarities between internal terrorism and international terrorism, it is that we do not know how to deal with terrorism that is not state-sponsored. While it is an issue of national security, it doesn’t fit neatly in the bounds of the military and security institutions we’ve developed.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink
  7. Arthanyel wrote:

    Starluna, excellent point. I think we should be able to define the difference between crime and treason (internally) and between war and terrorism (externally) and deal with them appropriately. But unless we can point the military machine at a foreign state, we have no tools that really work externally, and our law enforcement systems are aimed at crime not treason internally (and we’re probably thankful they are not).

    The SEAL team that took out Bin Laden is an example of an external tool that could work, if sovereign nations allowed other nations to act the way we did – but they won’t, and probably shouldn’t either.

    All in all, I think this is more an intelligence mission that a military or police mission, and we use the active tools needed once the intelligence work reveals a place to point them.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Permalink
  8. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK as you are apt to tell me often, the comparison of the Oklahoma bombing and 911 is a false equivelency. We did not go to war against the Afghan people, we targeted the self imposed dictatorship (taliban) whom allowed Bin Laden’s group to thrive with no concern for their actions if not outright support of their network. Kansas did not provide materiel support to Mcveigh et al.
    Iraq is similar to Libya in that a mad man and his henchmen were in charge and needed to go. I personally think a sniper team with a clear line of sight, a .50c round and permission from the President would have done the job. Which, I think is what they should have done in Libya instead of spending 100’s of millions in treasure that our school systems could better use.
    I’ve made my point previously on the futility of continuing these wars (I’m the Army guy on the far right of the comic). I just finished training a group of combat medics who will be headed to those war zones kids some 18-20 years old. Some will see things that kids shouldn’t have to see and I pray that none has to hold another young Soldier’s head in their lap as he takes his last breath as I did, his blood covering their hands, his last words stuck in their head. But they might.
    The outcome in Afghahistan will be the same as Vietnam, as we retreat this year or 5 years from now. The Taliban will advance and take over. We have not learned anything in almost 40 years and it doesn’t seem to matter what political party is in charge.
    If we had begun to get out after Bin Laden’s death (our objective) and/or invited the Taliban to the table years ago and told them “do not let another terrorist group use your land, or we’ll be back” they most likely would say “you got it” and made sure no Bin Ladens ever used their land again. They will be back, but they will now more likely tolerate those who seek to kill us again.

    Friday, July 8, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink
  9. Mike wrote:

    Iraq was 100% dumb. Libya is 95% dumb. Afghanistan made sense. The taliban supported terrorist groups. We tried doing less invasive means against bin Laden for years. He was tops of the most wanted list for something like a decade before 9-11. I’m sure we had the CIA after him. We tried cruise missles on him in 1998 while Clinton was president. None of it worked. Conventional war made sense. The war was horribly mishandled for years, but now our goal was FINALLY accomplished. So yes, get out ASAP. I won’t knock going there though.

    Friday, July 8, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink
  10. starluna wrote:

    I am willing to acknowledge that Afghanistan may have made sense, but I don’t think I/we know enough to say that everything was tried and that nothing worked and therefore using the military was the only option left.

    I’m definitely not convinced that the cruise missiles Clinton authorized were anything other than theater to attempt to distract everyone from the sex scandal and the stupid impeachment effort. We know that the Sudan “bomb making factory” turned out to be nothing of the sort.

    I seem to remember hearing that the consensus from the various 9/11 commissions and investigations was that none of the security or military agencies took the Al-Qaeda threat seriously, which was one of the many factors that led to 9/11.

    Were there really were no other options? Or was our thinking on potential options to deal with non-state sponsored terrorism was simply limited?

    Friday, July 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  11. Iron Knee wrote:

    I think you guys who think it was wise to send the military into Afghanistan are using the wrong reason. It doesn’t matter if we were absolutely justified in going into Afghanistan because they harbored Al Qaeda.

    The issue is what were we trying to accomplish? Did we have clear goals for going into Afghanistan? Did we have any goals at all? Were there other (less deadly) ways to accomplish those goals?

    Now we are going to leave (finally) and Afghanistan will again become a haven for terrorists, so we have accomplished nothing. If anything, we have created more terrorists. Why do people (even you intelligent and thoughtful people who comment on this blog) think sending in the military will eliminate terrorism from a country? Didn’t we learn anything from Vietnam?

    Think about it. Even the most ardent Bush administration hater, who believed Dubya was a torturer, warmonger, liar, and a terrorist who killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq and other countries — how would they react if some other country or countries (the EU, China, Russia, Iran) invaded the US and started dropping bombs on the pretense of eliminating Bush’s terrorism? How would the ardent Dubya haters react? Even I would enlist in the Army to fight the foreign invaders. Why do we think Afghans would react any differently?

    Now, I would have supported going into Afghanistan and building roads, schools, and other infrastructure. Even giving cold hard cash to every man, woman, and child in Afghanistan. Would have been FAR cheaper and accomplished far more. I once read that for the cost of the Vietnam war, we could have given every single person in Vietnam the amount of money an average person there would earn in their lifetime.

    Not all wars are stupid, but war as a first resort is always stupid. Our military complex has made war our first resort, when it should be our last resort.

    Friday, July 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  12. russell wrote:

    IK, your 4th paragraph is brilliant. It is also identical to what Ron Paul has been saying for a decade.

    As is your concluding sentence.

    Well said! : )

    Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink