Monday, October 25, 2010

Iraq and Afghanistan

The papers released from Iraq and Afghanistan on Wikileaks seem to indicate:

  • that the direct collateral damage to civilians from military activities in the form of people wounded and killed has been very severe. This does not count of course the indirect collateral damage of people who have gotten sick who would not have, sick people who did not receive care, people who have lost jobs they would otherwise have had had, etc.
  • that there have been severe infringements on human rights. not only those at Abu Ghraib but others committed by our allies.
  • that the role of contractors in the wars has been greater than had been realized, and that the behavior of some of those contractors has been more problematic than had been made public.
We know that the war has gone on for a very long time, that it has been very expensive, and it has carried major costs in terms of the reputation of the United States abroad and the debts we own in our foreign policy. We also know that the "nation building" efforts have failed to install effective and honest governments nor have they successfully installed democratic institutions. The economies of Iraq and Afghanistan are a mess.

I conclude that President Obama's policy of withdrawing from the two wars with all deliberate haste is the right one, and of course that withdrawal will be a major step in putting our economic house in order. That policy may be the greatest achievement of the Obama administration.

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