First, let me start with a confession. I was under the impression that all wars started or entered by USA was during Republican rules. Wars, at least, that happened near our shores in the last three decades were started either when Mr. Bush Senior or Mr. Bush Junior were the presidents. The first Iraq war (1991) happened, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, was under George Bush’s (Sr) rule.
The second was, the war on Terror, after 9/11 when USA started bombing the hell out of Afghanistan and the third of course, was the war on Iraq to dig out the weapons of mass destruction which actually was only a mass deception. Forget WMD, they could not even find a pipe bomb a road side vandal would use for pitched battle on the street. The second and third wars started during George Bush (Jr) presidency.
So readers can pardon my wrong assumption that all wars started when Republicans were in power and they favoured the Military Industrial Complex more than the peace loving Democrats.
What triggered me to write about these wars, are two announcements in this week. The first was, America closing the airbase in Bagram in Afghanistan after 20 years of war and the second was, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, the man responsible for the second gulf war and the chief proponent of WMD theory, died this week aged 88 years. For the record, he has defended his action to go to war till the end.
So I did some google search to find out who got into more wars and to my surprise I found this out. As I said, what I remember from 1991, are wars started during republican presidencies, at least the ones that happened in countries near to us (Asia). But then, if we go back few more decades, it becomes obvious that there is actually no difference in this between GOP and the Democrats. United States of America entered World War II during the presidency of Mr. Roosevelt. Of course USA was forced into the war after the Pearl Harbour attack. The only time when atom bomb was used, was when Mr. Truman was President, both democrats. Truman was also the president during the Korean War.
My assumption or thinking was wrong. Mr. Clinton was the president when Bosnia was bombed to pieces and Mr. Obama’s political rise began, after he made the famous speech in Chicago criticizing the ‘dumb wars’ and won a Nobel Peace Prize one year into office. But then, he went on to increase number of troops in Afghanistan by 30,000, determined to succeed in Afghanistan. He could not even close the Guantánamo Bay prison completely, which was his major promise. So there is no big difference between the Reds and the Blues.
What confuses me more is, ‘the why’ part of it, especially the Vietnam War. Let’s leave it for the moment. This is about Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Thirty Years of Bombing in Iraq has produced only rubble.
Most people in the world believe that war on Iraq was actually for the oil. Making Iraq a paragon of democracy was never the agenda. But that still leaves Afghan question. Forget making Afghanistan a democracy, most could not win the war in Afghanistan. In the 19th and early part of 20th centuries, the mighty British Empire tried to conquer Afghanistan but could not succeed. Remember the British was ruling a country which comprised both present day India and Pakistan, that makes Afghanistan just a neighbour. They could not do it after two wars. In the late seventies, the Soviet Union (UUSR) tried. Again, Afghanistan was just crossing the border for them. They could not do that successfully and ultimately had to withdraw their tanks after one more Geneva accord. So what made USA think that they can do this sitting 10,000 miles away? The Americans just assumed that they can setup a base in Afghanistan, drive out all the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces and make the country democracy, at least this is what they said. Wishful thinking if ever there was one.
OK let’s start again. The war was in retaliation to 9/11. America did not start it but only responded to Al Qaeda forces who were given shelter by Taliban. So they went in, bombed the hell out of the country, killed whoever they could, including children, marriage parties, thousands of innocent people and some terrorists. And they found out that Osama bin Laden was not hiding there, but in Pakistan who was their ally all along, and was hiding in plain sight. He was also killed. This was during Obama’s first term I think. So what was left to do to stay for another ten years?
OK, One more start. Killing Osama or throwing Taliban out were just means to make Afghanistan prosper and that’s what they intended to do. Is that fulfilled? Not by a mile. As the USA is leaving the country, Taliban is closing in. When the last USA boot in Afghanistan leaves Kabul, the Taliban will be arriving at Kabul’s door step to rule Afghanistan again. Back to square one after twenty years, where schools will be closed, football will be banned and every girl will be made illiterate.
Is there any hidden wealth or massive reserves of minerals in Afghanistan like Uranium or Platinum and they are after that? Not that we know of. The Only Gross Domestic Product of Afghanistan is Opium which would have been an interest for Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals, not to the federal government of United States.
So why? America spent humungous amount of money in these wars and lost few thousand lives as well. They have spent about 1.27 Trillion Dollars on these two wars alone. At 46$ a barrel of oil, this amounts to 28.22 Billion barrels of oil and America imports about 6 MMBD. The value of USA oil import, on an average, is 81.6 Billion dollars per year. So if America had not gone to war and spent all the money in buying oil, the money would have lasted them 141 years. I hope my back of the hand calculation is right. This is not taking into account that USA is net exporter of Oil now. So oil can’t be the only reason. I am neither able to find any logic nor economics here.
Apart from making few defense contractors rich, increasing the national debt by a trillion dollars and change, displacing the corrupt regimes with even worse leaderships and killing few thousand innocent people in both countries, I don’t see anything these wars have achieved till date.
On the other hand, in these twenty years, China has grown big, very big actually, in economy and political clout and is competing with USA in every possible sphere. Should USA have fought an economic battle with China instead of unwinnable wars in Asia? Only if wishes were horses….