A mistake in the Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) now being repeated in Afghanistan is not recognizing that winning a war against a Third World country with a second-rate military is relatively inexpensive in U.S. blood and money. But the do-gooder “nation-building,” or “winning the peace for democracy,” is exorbitantly costly and failure-prone.
From www.defense.gov: The Iraqi military was crushed and Bagdad occupied in about 30 days (March and April 2003) with U.S. military costs of 139 dead and 552 wounded. Contributing to quick success, some key Sunni generals opted to stand aside and keep a sizable portion of the Iraqi military out of the action. They understood the realities of comparable military force and correctly assessed the outcome. And they were ready to negotiate with us for a new government that, though not democratic, at least would have respected U.S. military might, and acted accordingly.
Unfortunately, U.S. politicians chose to build a new democratic nation that would shift power to the Shiite majority. From the end of major hostilities and occupation of Bagdad in April 2003, nation-building continued on nearly to the end of 2011, costing our military 4,335 dead and 30,817 wounded. Of total casualties (dead and wounded) war-winning cost us 691 (2 percent) and the subsequent nation-building has cost us 35,152 (98 percent). U.S. treasury costs likely reflect a similar ratio. Nation-building, worse than a waste, has resulted in a Shiite-majority government now likely to invite Shiite Iran to fill the vacuum left by the U.S. military.
Democracy for Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria is not in the cards until the people are ready for it. We cannot give them democracy. When they are ready for it, they will rise up and take it.
Donald L. Davis