Trump wants to double down on Afghanistan.   A few years ago he himself was calling for Obama to get out of that war.  But as we know, he changes his mind a lot so this is no big deal (see “Mexico will pay” versus “The American people will pay or I’ll shut down the government”).

Let’s examine the logic.

Way back when Bush first attacked Afghanistan and Iraq we had little ongoing problems with terrorism from the Middle East.  Yes, they executed the 9/11 attack, largely because we were asleep at the wheel, but overall the anti-American movement was confined to a pretty small group of radicals.

Human Nature

But after we attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, oddly enough there was this human nature thing that caused folks to say, “Hey America is destroying my country.  I want to do my part to help get even!”  Anticipating this is not rocket science or some deep aspect of psychology that’s hard to understand.  This is a most basic aspect of human nature.  We attack their countries, suddenly it’s easy to recruit people who are angry with the US.

soldier-in-iraq
US soldier in Iraq.  If your normally peaceful city looked like this, you’d probably be a bit tweaked too.

The rise of something like Al Qaeda or ISIS was widely predicted at the time.  This natural aspect of human nature was evident to many people but apparently not to our esteemed political leaders, possibly because their thinking was colored by large kickbacks from defense contractors, but that’s just conjecture.

And so we attacked two countries that had done nothing to us.  We started these wars.  We weren’t responding to attacks from them, we initiated.

As a side note, we tend to only tally American loss of life in a war, so the 4000+ soldiers we lost maybe doesn’t seem that bad.  But add in the Iraqi losses of 100000+ and we’re talking real numbers.

And I went up there, I said, “Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead, burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL.” And I started jumpin up and down yelling, “KILL, KILL,” and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, “KILL, KILL.” And the Sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, “You’re our boy.”

Arlo Guthie — Alice’s Restaurant

 

The attacks had another interesting side effect: they destabilized world oil markets and pushed the price of oil way up.  So if we were hoping to get some free oil (the original slogan for the Iraq war was Operation Iraqi Liberation but then some smart cookies realized the acronym was “OIL” and that didn’t sound so good) we ended up doing the exact opposite and making oil more expensive for everyone on the planet.

So let’s see if we can learn from what happened and try not to repeat it.  We attacked their countries, terror recruiting went way up and terror organizations became more active.  If we double down and attack them some more, it’s likely that will just be throwing gasoline on the fire (see “human nature” above).

Alternatives

It’s been suggested that we instead take all the money we’d use furthering our attacks and instead provide it as incentivized aid to help them rebuild.  If we did this, it would be hard to maintain a strong anti-US sentiment for long and the recruiting pipelines for the terror organizations, instead of being fueled with a steady stream of new angry citizens, would slowly dry up and pretty much end the terror activity within say about 10 years.

Now that sounds pretty goody two-shoes, doesn’t it?  That’s not how we roll here in the US.  We attack and we win, dammit!  But it’s not hard to see that continuing to attack is just prolonging the game of whack-a-mole that we started 16 years ago.  By continuing to fight we only exacerbate the situation.  We learned in Vietnam there are some wars we just cannot win.  Or did we really learn anything?

 

Insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

–Unknown