I know that we’ve intermittently talked about this before, but now seems to be a perfect time to discuss our wars with Iraq (our troops are coming home, finally) and Afghanistan. Make no mistake, we were definitely attacked on September 11, 2001. A group of 19 terrorists with the aid of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban took down the World Trade Center, tore a huge hole in the Pentagon and crashed an airliner into a rural portion of Pennsylvania. We now know that these acts of terrorism set in motion a cascade of events which have cost the American people well over $1.5 trillion. 6200 American soldiers have died. Tens of thousands of American soldiers have been wounded. What did we get in return?
When you invest blood and sweat into a project, you should at least hope to get something out of it. Stability in the Middle East? A thriving economy in Afghanistan? At the time of the Iraq invasion, many Americans believed that we were invading Iraq in order to secure their oil. Do we have secure oil agreements in place? Did we, at least, improve our relationships with other governments in the Middle East?
Some of these questions don’t really have answers. Others of these questions do have answers and the answers, unfortunately, are depressing. We spent a lot of time and effort and nearly destroyed our military in the process. We have simply the death of Osama bin Laden and several of his lieutenants to show for our efforts. Questions like whether we madr terrorism worse still linger. Now is the time for us to figure out what we did wrong. We should also assess what we did right. We need to make sure that we do not repeat the same mistakes which led to the disastrous decisions to invade both of those countries. I would submit that we could have infiltrated Afghanistan with a couple hundred to a couple of thousand troops with appropriate air support and eliminated Osama bin Laden and most of Al Qaeda within a matter of weeks or months. I don’t know. What I do know is that spending $1.5 trillion and losing over 6000 troops, breaking our military and getting almost nothing in return is unacceptable.