As the cost in blood and gold continues to ramp up, American politicians seem oblivious to a simple fact: despite all the wars we have fought in since 9/11, our security and economic development have been suffering.
Currently, engagements in Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen are proving the point without a doubt, but even to mention a peaceful resolution of these conflicts is considered a heresy in Washington. The military option has become a default solution to almost any problem. Yet, these wars are draining our resources and making us vulnerable to future conflicts.
Despite his campaign promises, President Trump ordered a significant number of troops to Syria, with an objective to help Syrian rebels capture ISIS capital Raqqa. But once that objective has been accomplished, the army stayed. The mission has become a purpose, instead of the other way around. Now, we have a military leadership struggling to find an objective for these troops, despite the clear indications that there isn’t one. So why are they still in Syria?
Yemen is another case in point. There was no threat to American interests there. The only objective is supporting Saudi Arabia as they continue to blunder through the war, killing thousands of civilians and causing a famine that endangers millions. All the efforts to extricate the US from this conflict have failed, despite the clear bipartisanship support.
The greatest failure of American foreign policy is Afghanistan. Despite all the effort, the security situation in the country is a nightmare. Just a few days ago a suicide attack killed 57 people. The recent Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) reports clearly states that the mission has failed in every possible segment, whether it is economic development, political stability, or Kabul’s government corruption. The massive expenditure of lives (15 Americans were killed last year in Afghanistan) and money (some $45 billion per year) haven’t achieved a single proclaimed goal. But the mission continues, without clear parameters or any achievable objective. Any mention of troops returning home is met with a stiff and almost hysterical resistance.
So far, the United States has spent about $15 billion on Syrian campaign. Two Americans have lost their lives in the conflict. As things stand now, it seems almost certain that Syria will turn into another Afghanistan, only much more dangerous one because of various international players present on the ground, like Russia and Iran.
Reconsidering the use of military power has become a critical issue. Instead of exploring different avenues of approach, our first instinct is to bomb everybody and ask questions later. Not only it is detrimental to America’s international reputation, but the cost in soldiers’ lives and treasury is also slowly becoming unbearable. The money we spend on these pointless wars can be employed for many different things we as a nation sorely need, especially in the light of mounting budget deficit. The lives of our servicemen we so carelessly sacrifice will be needed in future. The time to change the way we conduct our foreign policy is long overdue.