War; what is it good for?

August brought the United States its largest monthly death toll for military serving in Afghanistan, which makes 2009 already more deadly than any other year. The country has lost support for the war and is beginning to ask, “why are we still here?” Stepping back, one begins to wonder if any of the United States current military adventures are worth it.

Liberals seem to have the idea that domestic spending can go up infinitely, with absolutely no consequences. Conservatives seem to have the same idea, but with military spending. They are both wrong.

Contrary to popular myth, Obama proposed and got a higher military budget. While defense is a necessary function of the federal government, spending $1 trillion annually is simply not responsible with a backdrop of $12 trillion debt and possibly $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Total U.S. defense spending equates to almost all other countries defense spending combined. Defense and interest on our debt take up the entire federal tax revenue. And the Center for Defense Information actually shows a decline in the amount of weapons and readiness of the military as a result of the increase in spending.

The current justification for the military and intelligence expansion is the terrorist attack on Sept. 11. Yet, the “9/11 Commission Report” concluded that it was the huge bureaucracy that allowed the terrorist attacks to come to fruition. Many agencies had critical information that could have stopped the attack. However, the information was not utilized simply because the system was too large. Adding on more bureaucracy such as the “Department of Homeland Security” only furthers this problem.

The United States has troops stationed in 70 percent of the world. That is 147 countries and three territories. This includes places like Germany and Japan. No wonder military readiness has gone down, after stretching itself so thin across the world. Occupying these countries serves no purpose, and these soldiers should simply come home.

The occupations of two countries in particular have become especially counterproductive in protecting America. The first of which is Iraq.

Despite being “the next Hitler,” America had practically installed Saddam Hussein into his seat. With critical help from the CIA, Hussein’s party took power over Iraq and eventually he took the throne. Furthermore, the U.S. helped him stay in power by covertly providing him with billions of dollars for weapons and intelligence to fight the Iran-Iraq war. That included helping to develop the chemical weapons that the U.S. condemned, as well as helping to aid a program to develop “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (WMD). Yes, the same WMDs we justified invading Iraq for.

Even with all of the weapons that the U.S. provided Iraq, it never posed a threat, and by the time of the Iraq invasion it had long dismantled its WMD program. Not to mention Iraq had no connection to terrorists or Sept. 11. Some CIA officials even allege that the Bush administration purposely mislead the public in order to win support for the war. Nevertheless, preemptively striking another country is deeply immoral and fuels resentment of the United States.

Eisenhower called it an invention of Hitler.

Since the invasion of Iraq, some estimates say the indirect amount of civilian deaths is over one million. The number of Americans dead now stands at more than 4,000. The long-term cost including medical services to wounded soldiers could be $3 trillion. All in the name of national security, when in reality it has only made us less safe. Invading the country has led to vast increases in al Qaeda recruitment and a much higher chance of another large scale terrorist attack. Despite Obama’s promise of getting us out of Iraq, he plans to leave up to 50,000 soldiers there indefinitely.

The second country is Afghanistan. Obama has recently ratcheted up the amount of troops there. The initial justification for the war in Afghanistan was to track down those who planned the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and bring them to justice. Particularly of interest was Osama bin Laden, who ironically was trained and given weapons to by the CIA. Supposedly, the Taliban in Afghanistan was harboring these terrorists. In actuality the Taliban offered to give bin Laden to a neutral country if President Bush supplied evidence of bin Laden’s involvement with the terrorist attacks. Bush refused and continued with the invasion. Instead of actually looking for the perpetrators of the attack, the military became distracted with creating a pro-west regime change. Now, eight years later, thousands of civilians are dead, and bin Laden remains free.

Apparently, in order to win in Afghanistan, the Taliban must be defeated; a group who has never attacked the U.S. Also ironically, the Taliban is an entity that was funded (the U.S. gave them upwards of $6 billion in military aid) and largely created by the U.S. in the 1970s and 80s. The Taliban is not going to surrender, and they are only getting stronger. Just like al Qaeda, the United States’ continued presence in Afghanistan fuels the Taliban’s recruitment, and targets their resentment toward the U.S. The size and environment in Afghanistan make it a difficult war zone, in addition to the fact that identifying the enemy has become increasingly complicated. The Soviet Union collapsed trying to fight a war there.

With this in mind, “winning” is unlikely. The only reasonable option now is to have talks with the Taliban and create an exit strategy. Otherwise, as has been the case so far, American deaths will continue to increase and the cost will skyrocket, with nothing to show for it.

With the constant meddling in the Middle East’s affairs, it is clear why they have such resentment for the U.S. In fact, according to bin Laden himself, as well as multiple terrorist experts, CIA officials and the “9/11 Commission Report,” the attack on Sept. 11 was motivated by America’s foreign policy.

To find the origins of Sept. 11, one must look back to the Gulf War. As seen above, America was an ally with Hussein. And before the war, the U.S. told Hussein that Bush senior would not object to him invading Kuwait over a border dispute. However, when Hussein did invade Kuwait, he became a villain that was a threat to oil prices. Despite posing no real threat to U.S. security, the U.S. invaded Iraq and pushed them out of Kuwait.

The Gulf War stirred up the hornet’s nest for anti-American sentiment in the Middle East that allowed bin Laden to recruit so readily for al Qaeda. One of the biggest motivators for the attack on Sept. 11 (and the original attack on the WTC) was America’s base on “holy land” in the Arabian Peninsula, which was established during the Gulf War. Is it a coincidence that 15 of the 19 hijackers originated from Saudi Arabia?

It seems now that the true objective of these occupations is to build up pro-west nations, an insurmountable task, that so far has failed miserably in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  It has failed in the past in Iran when the CIA overthrew an elected government and installed the Shah. That caused deep resentment towards America that still exists today and it lead to the Iranian Revolution, which put in place an anti-west republic. The resentment caused by the Shah also led to the taking of American hostages for over a year.

The true risk of these terrorists is low. The only reason terrorists were able to attack the U.S. on Sept. 11 was because of the huge defense bureaucracy, which can be streamlined. Losing this many American’s and killing all of these civilians is not worth it, and has the opposite of its intended effects. It actually increases the terrorist threat. Until we wake up and see this, we will never be safe.

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  • The Law, Frederic Bastiat

    Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

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