When we Americans think about 9/11, our hearts break and we get angry. So how do you imagine the Iraqis feel about the tens of thousands of their people who have been killed since our invasion? And how do you think the Afghans feel about living in a continuing civil war?
A country’s foreign policy is supposed to be pragmatic, designed to improve its citizens’ lives. So let’s take a clear-eyed look at how American lives have changed since our government began these two wars.
First there’s the money. The two wars cost over $1 billion a day, plus the money we spend on rebuilding and other civilian projects. That means we’ve spent well over $1 trillion since the Afghanistan invasion began. If we had spent just one-tenth of that money on ourselves, on infrastructure and public schools and hunger and homelessness, and then used the rest to pay down our debt, we’d be living in a much different country today.
Then there’s the human cost, to the soldiers and their families and their communities. It’s painfully clear that our government is taking lousy care of our troops, since more of them die by suicide than in combat.
Next there’s the question of security. The Taliban never killed an American until we invaded Afghanistan. They never got their hands on a cent of American money through a protection racket, which they now use to buy more weapons to kill more Americans. They were always thugs, and they ran a brutal government, but the Afghan people didn’t have to worry about being killed for helping Americans or being hit by a drone missile for helping the Taliban.
Furthermore, the Afghan war is unwinnable. If the Russians, who are far more ruthless than we are, couldn’t successfully occupy Afghanistan, we certainly can’t. So we are pouring money down an open, useless pit and destroying American lives and creating tens of thousands of long-term enemies for nothing.
Then there’s Pakistan. Until we invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan didn’t have much internal terrorism. But since we starting driving the Taliban and Al-Quaeda over the border, Pakistan has become increasingly unstable. And an unstable Pakistan is extremely dangerous because of its nuclear weapons.
Finally, let’s look at Iran. Saddam Hussein kept Iran in check on their joint order, but since the Shiites have been running the Iraqi government, Iran has be extending its influence across that border. And Iran is also extending its influence into Afghanistan.
And if we look at the U.S., we’ll see that we don’t have enough soldiers at home, especially the National Guard troops, which are supposed to be available for local emergencies. Furthermore, Arizona has been sucked into the Mexican drug wars, and we’re too busy overseas to give the state any national muscle.
So if we look pragmatically at the legacy of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we can find no benefits for Americans. We’ve spent over $1 trillion dollars, lost and ruined thousands (tens of thousands?) of American lives, increased the instability of the Middle East and Western Asia, instilled hatred in at least two generations of Afghans and Iraqis, and jeopardized our own internal security.
We are losing the War on Terror and we have only ourselves to blame.