Nation-building has failed

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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

Evans

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wtinney
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wtinney 01/11/12 - 01:27 am
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The United States should not

The United States should not be in the business of "nation building" - it should be in the business of "nation defending" - specifically, OUR NATION. I have morphed from being a hawk primarily because the Pentagon does not know how to fight wars to a finish anymore. What they do know how to do is perpetuate large budgets justified by multiple operations all over the world (and string out those operations as long as they can through utter inneptness). First, we should not be in any war that is not win-able by any measure (i.e. War on Drugs, War on Terror, War on Poverty, etc.). Second, we should no be in any war, declared against any nation-state, that we are not willing to pummel into dust (this politically-correct and politically-influenced war approach gives me headaches just thinking about the wasted lives and resources for unfinished engagements). Once they're over, since Vietnam (with the exception of Gulf War I) they all leave a bad taste in our mouths. Third, we should not be willing to use NATO to prop up, defend, and offensively support rebels in other countries - especially northern Africa or Middle Eastern countries. The United Nations only authorized NATO to defend a no-fly zone in Lybia - that is all. U.S. and France backed NATO then basically became a rebel defensive and offensive support group in Lybia. Rebels did not topple the regime - NATO did with rebels getting the credit. I did not like the regime of Lybia but, in the same respect, I do not like our forces or material support being used to support rebels in other sovereign and recognized countries. Qadafi was a very bad individual but I just do not think that justifies international moves to supplant rulers of other nations. Fourth, nothern Africa and the Middle East are made up of countries that are, at their core, theocratic (meaning, religiously-based). With average education levels sitting around 6th to 8th grade for most of their populations, it is highly possible democracy cannot work in these nations with such fundamentalist religious elements so present. Has anyone asked the question is it necessary to have these tyrant leaders like Hussain, Qadafi, Mobarak, etc. and their regimes at the top in order to stabilize these populations? Recently, it was stated that the Egyptian Arab Spring basically made it possible for a more fundamentalist religious regime change as the sheer numbers of the fundamentalists absolutely destroyed the democratic youth vote (who had started the Arab spring with more secular concerns and leanings). So, there you go. The fundamentalists can just stand back and let the protestors do their work for them - then just trample them at the ballot box. Failure of democracy for sure. Failure of fighting wars that cannot be won. Failure of nation building. Failure of not being willing to even fight wars when we are in them - fight them to win. Failure.

desertcat6
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desertcat6 01/11/12 - 02:40 am
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In 50 or 100 years from now,

In 50 or 100 years from now, historians may be telling us the USA made a huge mistake by not putting more effort into post-war stabilization efforts. When we left the Afghanistan to its own devices after the USSR pulled out, things didn't work out so well and it eventually came back to haunt us. There is a vast difference between defeating the government/military of a nation and defeating the population of a nation. Without the latter, there is little hope of change.

wtinney
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wtinney 01/11/12 - 03:58 am
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What change happened with our

What change happened with our investment and nation building strategy in place, desertcat6? Iraq is on the verge of religious sectarian warfare; Afghanistan is basically runned by a propped up government that only can make decisions in their own capital city while the U.S. is using diplomacy with the Taliban (our declared enemy)? Desertcat6, your woefully in a weak position here with your statement concerning the facts as they stand. When we fought wars to win, I mean pummel the opposition, three stabilized countries were the result in World War II (Italy, Germany and Japan). In the Korean War, even though that is considered a tie, it was fought to win and produced a stable S. Korea. Why do we have to wait for history to write this story when the facts are very clear? Are we waiting till history "re-writes" something, desertcat6?

Jon Lester
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Jon Lester 01/11/12 - 06:07 am
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The Marshall Plan worked out
Unpublished

The Marshall Plan worked out very well. What hasn't worked out in our time is trying to build new Islamic republics with crooked contractors and Christofascist private security firms. That's really all we have to show for all of our foreign adventures of the last 20 years.

soldout
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soldout 01/11/12 - 09:28 am
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A nation without a strong

A nation without a strong Christian base doesn't understand freedom and they only understand law and survival of the strong. Christ brought and bought freedom to and for this world and created this nation as an example of how to do it. Only a Christian nation can survive using our form of government and others will fail as ours will fail without God at the center. Freedom without morals is impossible. Morals without Christ is impossible so it easy to see why things fail.

harley_52
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harley_52 01/11/12 - 10:49 am
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desertcat6, you make an

desertcat6, you make an excellent point. In wars like this, you can't really "win" the war until you've won over the civilian populace to your side. And I will submit that in spite of all our efforts to the win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, it will NEVER happen.

Why? Trust and fear.

People want to live and they want their families to live. They know we will protect them as long as we are there, but they also know as soon as we leave they'll have to face the Taliban and other radical islamists who are waiting to move back in, take absolute control, and exact their vengeance against those who supported the Americans. The population will be tortured and slaughtered. Blood will flow in the streets.

We are about to see it unfold before our eyes in Iraq. I predict hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens are about to suffer the consequences of our unwillingness/inability to keep our promises. Those who trusted us and helped us battle the radical islamists will pay for it with their lives and the lives of their families. It will be brutal....and it was predictable.

Regardless of our promises to the contrary, they know we are anxious to get out and leave them at the hands of the Taliban. They don't TRUST us to stay and they know what's going to happen when we leave. They've watched it happen time and again.

When Obama pulled the plug on Iraq and withdrew all of our military forces, he succeeded in destroying any Nation Building strategies that might have otherwise had a chance of success. The wars were lost before we started because we don't have the National will or the tenacity to win a war anymore. The Afghan people know we're about to bail on them and they know what happens next.

desertcat6
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desertcat6 01/11/12 - 11:31 am
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wtinney, don't let your

wtinney, don't let your emotions get in the way of understanding what I wrote. Our actions in Iraq and Afganistan were/are not adequate, and unfortunatley we failed to "pummel" and break the will of the people of either country. Our superior weapons and systems targeted combatants and the government with little impact on the population until after their governments failed - as you stated, not like WWII. Our efforts since the toppling these governments has been weak in terms of resources and execution, and failed, in part, because we rushed to give control back to people who were not ready in so many ways. Then we stayed and tried to help these new governments with one arm tied behind our back and wearing concrete boots while executing an unrealistic strategy. It took us four years to come up with an effective counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq. Something that may not have been needed if we had a plan, the will, and commited the resources to occupy, govern and police the country from the begining. We haven't cracked the code on how to execute the infrastructure and governence "nation building" side of our strategy in either country, but not having enough troops on the ground to secure the ground and police the population greatly hampers any efforts.

desertcat6
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desertcat6 01/11/12 - 11:28 am
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Harley - spot on.

Harley - spot on.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/11/12 - 01:23 pm
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United States cannot "win" in

United States cannot "win" in Iraq (i.e. expect the U.S. imposed status quo to hold when U.S. troops withdrew whether after 17 months or 17years) because the entire war was based on known lies and has been illegal since Day One. In Afghanistan, United States had the right and the responsibility to bring those responsible for 9/11 to justice. We also had the right to topple the Taliban govt en route to killing or capturing the terrorists responsible for 9/11. United States has NO RIGHT to occupy Afghanistan for 10 years 3 months and wage endless war there in an attempt to impose U.S. hegemony over South Asia. Both the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are fiascoes and will end badly for United States.

desertcat6
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desertcat6 01/11/12 - 02:00 pm
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John, Lies? Bad, faulty and

John, Lies? Bad, faulty and screwed up intel doesn't mean our government lied. Inept, dysfunctional and unwilling to believe a dictator maybe, but intentionally deceiving us, no. Linking Iraq to GWOT was a mistake, but that doesn't mean the government didn't think think Iraq posed a threat - a threat congress didn't object to.

Illegal? What US law was broken? Our government in accordance with the constitution and laws allowed the President with the support of and funding provided by congress to conduct every operation that has occurred since 2001 with the exception of Lybia.

If we were trying to impose a US hegemony in southeast asia, we surely didn't go about it the right way.

bjphysics
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bjphysics 01/11/12 - 04:05 pm
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desertcat6: “Illegal? What US

desertcat6: “Illegal? What US law was broken?”

Possibly international law and, if so, the Constitution:

Supremacy Clause: Article VI, Clause 2

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

********************************************

“War, Law, and Consistency” by Chris Borgen, Opinio Juris

“In discussing the Iraq War, many apologists for the Administration have picked up and discarded doctrines, methods of interpretation, and justifications, with alarming speed and with little concern for consistency. At the end of the day, if international legal rules concerning warfare are something they consider important, then they will have to enunciate a coherent view of what those rules are and where they came from.

That hasn’t happened yet, although Julian’s most recent posts made some observations that I would like to consider further.

Julian’s opening points can be essentially boiled down to this: international law matters in places like the U.K. because of enforcement concerns (such as through the ICC) or in Germany because of domestic political concerns. He then continues:

‘But the legality question matters far less in the U.S. because the domestic legality of the Iraq War is essentially undisputed (Congress authorized it, etc. etc.). The international legality of the Iraq War appears to have absolutely zero political significance (just ask John Kerry). Obviously, many people oppose the war, but the legality of the war is far from the most important reason they oppose the war.’

This conflates legality with political expediency. Sure, U.S. political leaders may not worry much about international legality because American voters largely do not, but that in no way makes the U.S. action legal. Moreover, simply because the President met domestic legal standards for invading Iraq does not absolve the U.S. from its responsibilities under international law, responsibilities that we [the U.S.] largely drafted at the birth of the U.N.”

Iraq War (lack of) legal justification at link

http://opiniojuris.org/2005/02/25/war-law-and-consistency/

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/11/12 - 04:11 pm
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Yes, desertcat6, LIES!

Yes, desertcat6, LIES! Rumsfeld, a neocon, set up the Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the Pentagon headed by another neocon, Douglas Feith, specifically to generate false propaganda and counter any CIA findings that argued against the Bush administration's false assertions that Saddam possessed nuclear weapons. The Bush administration ignored any intelligence that found no nuclear weapons program. One Iraqi female nuclear scientist living the the U.S. at great person risk made a trip to Iraq and contacted her brother who was also a nuclear scientist. He confirmed that all nuclear programs had been shut down. The Bush administration ignored this intelligence just like it ignored the work of Hans Blix. The truth was that Iraq's nuclear program was ended after the 1st Gulf War. Chemical weapons had been destroyed. Dick Cheney was intent on going to war in Iraq. The decision to go to war in Iraq was made shortly after 9/11/01. President Bush lied when he said that he was giving diplomacy a chance to work and that war was the last option. The decision to go to war in Iraq was "fixed" around the intelligence findings on WMD. The British noted this in their memos of meetings between Blair and Bush in July 2002. Bush LIED in Jan 2003 in the State of Union Address with those famous 16 words "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa ." The CIA had informed President Bush in its daily briefing in October 2002 that the intelligence upon which this assertion was based was unreliable. The desperate Bush administration used an informer named "Curveball" known by German intelligence to be a liar. German intelligence informed the U.S. that Curveball was unreliable. Colin Powell went to the UN with a bogus claim that a weather balloon station was a mobile bacteriological warfare unit. Iraq never attacked United States or threatened United States in any way. The Bush administration ignored evidence that Saddam did not possess WMD, cooked intelligence findings, pressured the CIA, and LIED this country into an unnecessary, disastrous war. We will be dealing with the consequences of these lies for years to come.

desertcat6
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desertcat6 01/11/12 - 05:26 pm
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BJ, not convicing. John, keep

BJ, not convicing. John, keep spinning and hoping, but hindsight is 20/20. As we saw with 9/11, we should have known doesn't mean the intel community was able to connect the dots sooner. Information that doesn't fit the narrative can be ignored, but that isn't always just a lie. Any idea how much information is processed, how much false information is gathered or how you determine how reliable a source is?

Bruno
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Bruno 01/11/12 - 06:25 pm
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Cain, your charge of the war

Cain, your charge of the war being illegal has long been shown to be false. Also, it was Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith who created the Office of Special Plans. It existed for 10 months. Most all of your other charges have been shown to be false.
Now instead of bringing up dead horses about a group of people long since out of power, why don't you address the sitting President and his role in Iraq, Afghanistan etc.

KSL
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KSL 01/11/12 - 07:38 pm
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Well stated, dcat6.

Well stated, dcat6.

wtinney
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wtinney 01/11/12 - 08:19 pm
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Thanks for your responses

Thanks for your responses desertcat6 and Harley, especially, and I understand your positions. I just think that if these wars are going to be 10 year engagements, then we'll never be able to maintain support both fiscally and politically in the United States. Again, I understand your positions, but, as Harley said, the national will and commitment to win just will not be there and, yes, the U.S. will (and has to) leave eventually. Therefore, one has to wonder why get involved in the first place if we're not willing to fight and win the war "to its fullest conclusion"?

usmcwarrior
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usmcwarrior 01/12/12 - 12:11 am
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The point really isn't

The point really isn't whether it could work with more time. The fact is it failed in Iraq and will fail in Afghanistan and in every other country that has a +90% adherence to Islam. Freedom/democracy/self determination are anathema to the doctrines of the religion. Living peaceably with your fellow man only extends to those equally submitted to Allah. Our leadership - civilian and military simply refused to entertain what analysts had told them prior to putting pen to paper, generating the operations order that eventually led to counter insurgency strategy which would have (presumably) led to a re-structuring of society in those countries.

Someone earlier in this comment stream hit the nail on the head when he said, it would take a change of heart for these people to even want what we arrogantly offered them. They don't want it, it was never in our national security interests to force it on them and they never will have it. What we needed to do was determine what level of punishment we were prepared to deliver to them for their hosting, planning, and sending the forward element of their crusade into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon on 9/11 - and then leave. Unfortunately; we no longer know how to fight and we no longer have the moral authority to deliver punishment to those who hate us fundamentally.

We had pretty much finished the mission - at least in Afghanistan in the first 12 months. Things went wrong when we changed course and started trying to reform them into "our image" and tens of thousands of our Warriors have paid the price!

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/12/12 - 11:38 am
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I'll leave it at this. After

I'll leave it at this. After 8 years 9 months, United States was forced to withdraw its troops from Iraq under the Status of Forces Agreement signed by President Bush because Iraqi public opinion would not tolerate a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq. The people of Iraq are incensed over civilian casualties from the illegal U.S. war. The Iraq war death toll has been put at 162,000 (80% of them civilians) by the NGO Iraq Body Count. How this can be construed as United States "winning" in Iraq is beyond me. Similarly after 10 years 3 months of U.S. war in and occupation of Afghanistan the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate is at odds with the Pentagon's rosy scenario. The NIE says the U.S. is mired in a stalemate in Afghanistan. Just like the U.S. neocolonial/political war in Vietnam, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-intel-afghan-2012011...

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