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Why Do We Fight in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Updated on April 18, 2012

Patriotism is one word that means different things to different people. It often pops up when discussing the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both wars are convoluted affairs costing lives, both offer nothing to America except money spent and lives lost. Let's take Iraq, long before America went to war with Iraq in 1991, in the 80s, America supported Saddam in many ways in their fight against Iran for eight years. America's interest was to look away at the Saddam atrocities and use of chemical warfare against their own people. When the Iran war was done, America switched horses against Iraq and Saddam for the exact same reasons we looked away in the 80s! Saddam seemed to pose a threat to Saudi Arabia with its belligerent bravado. When Iraq actually moved a few troops across the border, suddenly America was in danger via Saudi Arabia and its oil. Thus, America invaded but stopped far short of Baghdad and did not take out Saddam. The first Gulf war was not really a war, more of a skirmish, in which US easily won. Little life was lost. The Iraqi Army was pathetic.

The first Gulf War was really about preserving America's oil supply. Then, Sept. 11, 2001, happened. Terrorists gave America its second "Pearl Harbor". Terrorist ties had tentacles in numerous countries including Iraq, Saddam was thought to be working on weapons of mass destruction and Bush 2 thought it was time to overthrow Saddam, something his father stopped for good reason. Bush 2 supported the need by the WMD weapons said to have been developed and the al-qaeda. The WMD was iffy at best then and since was proven just a fabrication. The latter, also, was tenuous at best. Yet, these two reasons were fodder for the anti-terrorist cannon that followed 9\11. Bush 2 thus invaded Iraq again and this time consumed it all and toppled Saddam. That was over seven years ago and thousands of American lives. For what?

Iraq remains a big question mark as to whether it will remain pro-west or anti-west once American forces leave. How was Iraq a threat to America? It was only because Bush presented it in such a way so that the public would support it. Even in 2010, few, if any, American or Western companies have invested in Iraq in its rebuilding. Too risky, still. Yet, China has already made oil and construction contracts. China will reap any benefits from American blood spilled there. Is it really patriotic to be killed or disabled for this sort of cause?

Afghanistan is just as lame. This war was on the back burner for years, with no serious attempts until Iraq was "calm". Then, it went full bore to "eliminate the terrorists". For every taliban killed there, new ones are created across the border in Pakistan in remote areas that only drones can reach. Terrorists will always be around to wreak havoc on whatever targets they go for. There is no winning in Afghanistan, unless America plans to colonize it. The corruption in the government has been noted yet not much can be done about it. How is losing two arms or legs for an American soldier the patriotic thing? how did that make any difference except ruined his own life over this futile war? It didn't. Everyone knows it, but we say they were patriotic. What is meant is that the soldier had no choice but to follow orders and pray to God every day that he would make it home safely. Will we think the same in 2020, when America has long left this area and realize, nothing changed despite the life lost and billions spent? Will disabled soldiers who did their job think their sacrifice was worth it? Ask some Vietnam vets who did a similar thing. Anger is a word you hear.

Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is the "Good war", aka, WW2. That had real purpose, real consequences. Iraq and Afghanistan is not a patriotic war. America is not remotely endangered by either, no matter how each turns out. Having another democracy in the Middle East is a nice idea since Israel is the only one, but things were fine before either. Iraqi oil will end up in Chinese hands as they develop the fields. Terrorists continue to exist in both countries. Tribal rivalries will continue. Corruption is part of their way. Then, there is Iran, stoking the embers to their favor whenever they can, however they can to influence the Islamic way and eroding any democracy America managed to plant there, until there is none.

Unfortunately, America is in too deep and pulling out is not seen as a patriotic thing to do when the handwriting is on the wall. It should be.


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    • Kent Lofgren profile image

      Kent Lofgren 

      6 years ago from UmeƄ, Sweden

      Well-written and interesting hub about a complex issue–I miss some sentences about economy, though, like Petra pointed out.

    • daFuj profile image


      6 years ago from Colorado Springs

      Good job! I agree that there is no winning. Colonize?? I wouldn't want that area if the begged me to take it. Warring there is a bad idea no matter how you paint it. If we really needed their oil it might be different. If we all cut back on oil consumption and let them keep their oil we would have them licking our boots for our friendship and dollars. Yes, invest heavily in solar power, wind power, electro magnetic power, hydro electric, and grain fuels. Invest in anything but fossil fuels! For God's sake, its 2012, not 1800!

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the great read!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am a veteran of the Vietnam war. When I was shipped there, I knew nothing about geopolitics and our governments history of blunders. When I enlisted into the Army, there was no war, only American "advisers" in Vietnam. At that time, I was certain there would not be a war there. After basic training and Army Administration, I received orders for Vietnam and had two choices: Go there or go to a military jail.

      Years after my return and college, I completed a detailed search for information on the events that caused our military action in Vietnam, and found the most important information classified, until Ellsberg's release of "The Pentagon Papers" to the NY Times. I read the internet copy of this document, and found it described behavior I witnessed many times while in the Army. Most people are not aware that the incident triggering the Vietnam War occurred because a few sailors on a ship in the Tonkin Gulf fired their automatic weapons at flying fish because they were bored, and on guard duty at night. This incident occurred within days of a minor attack by a small North Vietnamese gunboat on another American destroyer, also in The Gulf of Tonkin.

      When the Captain of the second destroyer heard the weapons fire, he assumed the ship was under attack, and sent an encrypted message to Washington requesting advise as to how to respond. When the message was received by the Pentagon and relayed to President Johnson, a question was sent to the ship Captain, "Are you under attack?" The Captain replied, "I think so." Based on that lame response, the Secretary of Defense assumed a second attack by the North Vietnamese, and advised President Johnson that the United States MUST respond to these "attacks" or suffer the ridicule and loss of respect that a failure to respond would surely provoke. President Johnson's large Texas ego could not tolerate such an insult to American pride and, In spite of the U.S.Navy being in the Gulf of Tonkin in support of a Special Forces attack on an island off the coast of North Vietnam, The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was drafted by Congress authorizing President Johnson to use "whatever degree of force is required..." to effectively respond to these "attacks" by the North Vietnamese in international waters. Johnson decided the degree of force required was a full scale build-up of American forces in Vietnam. This order triggered my orders for Vietnam, and the ten year war that followed. This idiotic blunder by our government caused the death of more than 45,000 young Americans, many of whom were under 21 years of age, and unable to exercise their full rights of citizenship (e.g. voting. They were even too young to legally drink a beer). Many of these boys died before experiencing their first consummated romantic love relationship with a girl.

      The prevailing (lack of) wisdom, in 1965, was that if one country in Indochina was defeated by a communist army, all of the other countries in the region would be attacked and defeated by communist armies. The next logic indicated that more countries would follow, until we found ourselves surrounded in a communist world with no economic trading partners. These events were assumed to inevitably follow a communist Vietnam, and mean the end of our culture. Since this was the prevailing belief, our government felt it was imperative that it act to prevent the occurrence of these events. Later history proved "the domino theory" of communist domination wrong, but too late to prevent all the death.

      It is obvious that the invasion of Iraq was motivated by an over-zealous effort to protect the supply of petroleum to the U.S.from Saudi Arabia. After Iraq's behavior prompting the first gulf war, our government feared that Iraq would take over Saudi Arabia by force and its oil supply, depriving the U.S. of its third and seventh largest oil suppliers. The evidence is hardly strong enough to support the idea that Iraq, after the first gulf war, was strong enough militarily to successfully invade Saudi Arabia, to justify the deaths of more than 4,000 American soldiers in Iraq. That number was the toll at the so called U.S. pull-out. At this "pull-out" date, we left 4,000 soldiers in Iraq, to also die, in order to help train and support the Iraqi army and police. After this, our government increased the number of soldiers in Afghanistan to increase the number of young Americans at risk there.

      The rational for fighting in Afghanistan is to destroy the Taliban, and, thereby destroy the Al Qaeda terrorist network. Is this a rational approach to the Al Qaeda problem?

      We know that Al Qaeda is an organization of fundamentalist Muslim zealots and crazies that operate in small groups known as cells. Does it make sense to ship a large force of soldiers to conduct large scale military campaigns against several small cells of 3 to 4 men each?

      Doesn't this sound like sending the First Air Cavalry Division to attack a squad of eight Vietcong? In Vietnam, what happened when this strategy was employed?

      The Vietcong squad disappeared into a tunnel, and the divided sections of the Army division killed each other in a cross-fire, one of the many "friendly fire" incidents in Vietnam that were never reported to the media. Probably buried in one of the many classified documents related to the war.

      Doesn't it make more sense to fight individual cells with individual cells of our own, and the other security programs we now have in place? Why put 2,000 men at a time at risk to destroy a 3 man cell? Why not leave it to investigators to track down Al Qaeda leaders, arrest and prosecute them?

      The way we now approach the problem, we use a large armed force, with an inherently high probability of error, and of killing innocent civilians, to kill a small number of terrorists. The death of innocents cause the country's inhabitants to hate Americans. When the incidents are reported by the international media, people in other countries hate us, and work against us in other areas of our relationships. If course, this is exactly what organizations like Al Qaeda want. It's free anti-American propaganda.

      I don't know about you, but I get really disgusted seeing our government decision-makers make the SAME mistakes over and over, and resulting in the death of thousands of young American lives. Are these decision-makers as idiotic as they seem, or is some OTHER agenda being served by these decisions?

      It seems too cynical to assume they make these decisions, or give this advise to our President, so that American arms manufacturers can make more and more profit from the sale of weapons to the American military, but maybe that is the true reason. This has been offered as the reason for these idiotic wars by others, but I didn't want to believe that human beings could be so callous and so ruthless in the pursuit of wealth. Is this really true? American executives certainly are ruthless in their pricing policies during a recession.

      Can these arms manufacturers disregard all the blood and death of these young men, and pressure Congress and the ranking military to recommend these military actions just to make more money?

      In explaining these repeated decisions to start these wars, I'm left with only two reasons from the evidence I've seen. The first is: These decision-makers are idiots. The second is: to pay arms manufacturers more profit, and they, in turn, pay bribes and kick-backs to the politicians.

      The first choice does not seem reasonable to me. These people may be unprincipled, but I don't believe they are stupid.

      Unless I've missed something, that leaves only the second choice. If this is the reason, our government is even more hopeless and more corrupt than I thought.

      You will have to draw your own conclusion.

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      follow me on twitter marknewton_

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      yaw all ugly af

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have no problem with a country building it’s military for the purpose of defending against foreign invasion. But when a nation insists on having 734 fully operational military bases throughout the world, then I believe, there is a greater agenda. It costs the tax payers of this country $500,000 per year, per soldier deployed to Iraq. That cost goes up to a staggering $750,000 per soldier deployed to Afghanistan. That is a whole lot of money. We (America) has dropped more ordnance in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 10 years than any military conflict over the last 50 yrs. Indiscriminate bombing in barren mountain regions, rural areas where farming families live, etc. This is not for the sake of finding and killing “terrorists”. This is for the purpose of depleting the antiquated munitions out of our arsenal so that the defense contractors can “load us up” with new bombs, missiles, etc. Capitalism really is all about “supply and demand”.

      It has been said by many that “War is America’s greatest export”. I used to refute that because I believed that everything that this country did was to advance the causes of freedom and democracy throughout the world. Since 9/11, I have had to change my mind. I see a government that is permeated by corruption. The law makers of this land answer to a Corporate Cartel. Lobbyists(legal bribers) have unfettered access to the halls of our Capitol and unlimited amounts of cash to purchase the allegiance of our politicians.

      As for our involvement in the affairs of practically every country in the world, it’s no wonder the West is hated. If you or I were to see the planes, tanks, and troops of foreign countries on our soil we would take up arms as well. If our homes were being bombed and our woman and children were blown to pieces I would take up arms and die doing everything I could to expel the occupiers. Whether American FOX News junkies want to believe it or not, that is how we are perceived throughout the world. And the fact is, perception really is reality. If Chinese or Russian troops were occupying my streets as a means of protection for corporations that were trying to control the resources of my country, I would fight too. The following quote says it better than I can:

      It is a scandal in contemporary international law, don't forget,

      that while "wanton destruction of towns, cities and villages" is a

      war crime of long standing, the bombing of cities from airplanes

      goes not only unpunished but virtually unaccused. Air bombardment

      is state terrorism, the terrorism of the rich. It has burned up

      and blasted apart more innocents in the past six decades than have

      all the anti-state terrorists who ever lived. Something has

      benumbed our consciousness against this reality. In the United

      States we would not consider for the presidency a man who had once

      thrown a bomb into a crowded restaurant, but we are happy to elect

      a man who once dropped bombs from airplanes that destroyed not

      only restaurants but the buildings that contained them and the

      neighborhoods that surrounded them. I went to Iraq after the Gulf

      war and saw for myself what the bombs did; "wanton destruction" is

      just the term for it.

      C. Douglas Lummis, political scientist {1}

      The following is a list of all the countries that we have bombed in the last 60 yrs. By the way, America has dropped 76% of all ordnance ever dropped by all of the countries in the world combined. I can’t say that I will share that statistic with my children with any amount of pride. But I will share it with them.

      The bombing list

      Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)

      Guatemala 1954

      Indonesia 1958

      Cuba 1959-1961

      Guatemala 1960

      Congo 1964

      Laos 1964-73

      Vietnam 1961-73

      Cambodia 1969-70

      Guatemala 1967-69

      Grenada 1983

      Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)

      Libya 1986

      El Salvador 1980s

      Nicaragua 1980s

      Iran 1987

      Panama 1989

      Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)

      Kuwait 1991

      Somalia 1993

      Bosnia 1994, 1995

      Sudan 1998

      Afghanistan 1998

      Yugoslavia 1999

      Yemen 2002

      Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular basis)

      Iraq 2003-present

      Afghanistan 2001-present

      Pakistan 2007-present

      Somalia 2007-8, 2011

      Yemen 2009, 2011

      Libya 2011

    • pharmacist profile image

      Jason Poquette 

      8 years ago from Whitinsville, MA


      Some great points! Very helpful. Folks like me feel very politically frustrated. I'm an economic conservative, but hate these - in my opinion - foolish wars overseas. Always a challenge to find someone to vote for.

    • Freeway Flyer profile image

      Paul Swendson 

      8 years ago

      When the United States declared war on terrorism after 9/11, it created the impression that the best way to deal with terrorism was through military action. Invading countries and toppling governments, however, does little to counteract individuals and organizations not affiliated with governments. At some point, the U.S. will have to reduce its presence in these nations. The best that we can hope for is that they will not deteriorate into complete chaos. But even if the U.S. succeeds, whatever success might mean, the terrorist threat will still be out there. Here's a comparison that I wrote recently between our current situation and what was going on in Vietnam:

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Just today, I read that the situation there is as bad as in 2001. The Taliban has as much influence as they ever had.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      that's too bad :( pointless in the first place

    • nightwork4 profile image


      8 years ago from ontario. canada

      true. the other problem is that after we leave these areas nothing will have changed. afghanistan's leader still passes laws against women, torture and wrong imprisonment is still a regular occurrence and we haven't even left yet. things that make you go hmmmm.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I agree. Many are worried that the newly trained Afghan army may have Taliban and will turn on the US soldiers, as several already have.

    • nightwork4 profile image


      8 years ago from ontario. canada

      what i find strange about iraq is that more people are dying there now then before the "war" started. why we try to change the way of life of countries controled by religious nuts is beyond me. if it wasn't for the oil there i doubt we'd even bother. canada is losing too many good people fighting a war that in the end will change nothing.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      mytipen is right on. The scars of their loss will breed terrorists in the future, no question.

    • mytipen profile image


      8 years ago from Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A

      Good write but when you spoke about the loss of lives, it was all about American lives lost. What about the Iraqis? They're humans too, you know. 99% of the people killed in these wars are innocent and the hurt that leaves with their survivors help maintain a steady stream of terrorists and would be terrorists. Look up my hub on terrorism and tell me what u think.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      The ones who still think those two wars are about “eradicating terrorism” are either naïve or worse. The ones who call themselves "patriots" for supporting a losing effort at the expense of thousands of lives and billions of dollars should look up the word in the dictionary. Should they take the trouble to look up the word charade as well, they may get a more complete picture of what “patriotism” means.

      Better yet they should tell us when was the last time America moved a finger without having an ulterior motive – from the benefits of reconstruction of Europe to the interest on establishing strategic positions in the Balkans, South Asia and now Middle East, not to mention the interest in protecting economic advantages.

      America has the “talent” of creating monsters first and going after them later – so we can claim we are the leader of the world and we do all this in the name of democracy and respect for human rights.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Lost a long time ago!

    • eovery profile image


      8 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      I think we can contain Afghanistan and not have to fight the war there. What ar we after there, terrorist. We can contail the terrorist there, and save thousand of lives.

      I sounds like, to me, we are losing the main concept of this war.

      keep on hubbing!


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