Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why Wars Aren’t Exactly Won

I love our veterans, have had them in my classes, and will always praise them because they’ve sacrificed more than a coward like me will probably ever have the guts to do. I offer this disclaimer because I wish not to trivialize the sacrifice our men and women in uniform have made with the below posted remarks. The statement “Are we winning”? usually offered while watching coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drives me nuts. Wars in my view, are not won...there’s merely a loser who has lost less...thereby making him the winner.

Some people will argue that World War II represents an Allied victory over the forces of Nazism and Fascism. The world is indeed much better off with those poisonous evil forces marginalized in today’s world, but that “victory” came at a very substantial cost both in terms of human lives and power on the world stage. Russia is still trying to recoup the population it lost from World War II. Millions of people where killed through Nazi Camps, Stalin purges, atomic bombs, and actual hand to hand combat throughout the war effort. Yes, eventually the Allies came out on top, but when one calculates the casualty figures both of the Allies and the human embodiment of Nazism, Fascism, and Japanese imperialism, its’ hard to call anyone a true winner. Much of Europe was decimated, Japan was obliterated by an atomic bomb, millions of Jews were exterminated, and Russia is still trying to recover the population numbers it lost in World War II.

Sometimes war is a necessity. As much as I hate it, denying that reality is pointless. Allow me to turn towards the contemporary example of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The threat is now Islamic Extremism verses Western values of freedom and democracy. No one has been able to constitute what winning in the current conflict means. Even if we achieve objectives of stable, democratic, governance in Iraq and Afghanistan does it really constitute a win if extremism spreads throughout portions of Africa ? If we are not careful, I’m very concerned that we’ll have sacrificed thousands of young lives just to move the threat around creating a cycle of war waged=military victory=repeat somewhere else, which will ultimately lead to more lives lost.

We also don’t know what we are leaving behind for the good people of Iraq and Afghanistan yet. If we leave them in the hands of another Saddam Hussein (god forbid), how could we consider that a victory? Two fractured countries, billions of dollars spent, thousands of Coalition soldiers killed, injured, or permanently disabled, the numbers of Afghan and Iraqi civilians who have been killed in the fighting. War is a deadly, messy thing that rarely comes out as any military or civilian leader intends, but to me, the notion of there being one winner and one loser is the wrong thought. The thought should be Who has lost the least because no one comes out of war untouched.

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