USA has engaged in several wars in which most of them have received criticism of being the demonstration of the worst forms of employment of American military. With the rise of insecurity, efforts towards training, organizing, and equipping USA military force has been based on conventional confrontation with opponents. In retrospect, the main battles in which the military was inappropriately deployed include the Vietnam, Lebanon debacle, and Iraqi wars. These wars were specifically triggered by various political ambitions and underpinning propaganda from the media and fervent need to test the military capabilities of the United States.
The engagement of the U.S in various wars according to the authors begs the question of political objective by the government during invasion. The Iraqi War was particularly a representation of the antithesis of the wars of intervention. In the spring of 2003, America did not have a ubiquitous political objective of sending its troops to Iraq. It was a mere tactical move to oust President Saddam Hussein from power. American government did not consider non-violent means as an alternative force package. Non-military measures, which had begun to show signs of fruition were abandoned and instead, war was considered by the U.S. government as a means to an end. Virtually, there was no thought given to the long-term repercussions of invading Iraq. Despite the war having no major public support in the U.S. and remaining unpopular especially in its later stages, there was no exit strategy set up by the American government.
There were striking similarities between the Iraqi war and the debacle in Vietnam. Like in Vietnam, the Iraqi war was fought against the backdrop of staggering military and political tension, and divided opinion. The Vietnam War was the longest in the history of the United States. The U.S. government forcefully engaged its troops in the war that would cause the lives of many young people, many of whom were compelled to serve as soldiers in the war whose genesis they knew not about. Massive resources were also spent to fight a war that the United States could not ultimately win. For one, it was difficult to identify the enemy since the U.S. troops were fighting against the Viet Cong soldiers and civilians combined. The deployment of the youth in a war that lacked political and military basis can be considered a violation of human rights. It was frowned upon by all and sundry in the U.S. and beyond its borders. So to speak, no one should ideally begin a war that he has no clear sense of the objective. However, this is precisely what the U.S. government has done in the series of wars it has fought in its military history. A significant proportion of the twelve wars fought by the US military according to Snow and Drew (2009) rarely took into consideration the political will, fanaticism and devotion of potential rivals.
It would be considered common knowledge for the U.S. government as well as the political class to contemplate adopting a doctrine that would completely keep them off from protracted debacles in the aftermath of Vietnam War. Yet, there has been the exact opposite of the same.
The U.S. government was not justified in its action to send is military to Afghanistan due to a number of factors, which includes the perception that it was illegal under international law for the US forces to employ unjustified aggression. Ostensibly, despite the troop’s prolonged operation in Afghanistan, little has been done to prevent the current security threats in the US and other parts of the world. As aforementioned, maintaining prolonged wars is expensive. The war in Afghanistan has not only led to many lives lost, but has equally overburdened tax payers who have to do everything possible to sustain the military in Afghanistan. The invasion of Afghanistan was by extension, a stepping-stone towards the initiation of the 2003 Iraqi war, thus fulfilling the geo-political mission of American government. The counterinsurgency tactics deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq were immature and incomplete, and did not necessarily warrant the amount of resources and military capability employed by the US government.
In conclusion, where and when the US government decides to commit its military forces to warfare remains hotly debated. This is coupled with the government’s tendency to frame certain actions to be in line with moral absolutes. Usually, this leads to a misunderstanding between the role of the military forces and the country’s political objectives. It is often the expectations of the political class in America as well as sympathizers to ensure that the US forces overcome the ability and will of opponents at all cost. The reality is that the country rarely achieves its ambitions because of the inability of the troops to realize the political objectives of the war.
- Leigh, Neville. Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan, Osprey Publishing, Elite 163, Osprey, 2008.
- Snow, Donald M., and Drew, Dennis M. From Lexington to Baghdad and Beyond: War and Politics in the American Experience. 3rd ed. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2009.
- Walzer, Michael. Just and unjust wars: A moral argument with historical illustrations. Basic Books, 2015.