S ince 2001, the U.S. has led or participated in major military attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Do these aggressions offer lessons that may be useful in the present and future?
It is hard to state with certainty the outcome of these attacks, but the short-term results don't look good.
For example, the illegal U.S.-led attack and occupation as well as years of sanctions have turned a thriving and modern Iraq into a nation rife with horrific sectarian violence and incredible deprivation. The widespread shortage of the necessities of life and a devastated infrastructure make life a living hell for many.
Before the ousting of Moammar Gadhafi, Libya provided free healthcare and education to its citizens and it had the highest standard of living of all African nations. Libya is now struggling to recover from the devastation caused by civil war and the widespread bombing campaign of the U.S. and its allies.
The Libyan people are now enjoying political freedom, but they are paying a price in terms of living conditions. People are especially alarmed by the lack of security due to presence of a large number of heavily armed rival militias. Assassinations and kidnappings have raised the fear factor for the population. Tribal rivalries as well as splits among cities and between the east and west in Libya are a threat to any Libyan government.
The situation in Afghanistan under Taliban control was already terrible before the U.S.-led attack in 2001. However, 11 more years of warfare have not been a recipe for improving the lives of Afghanis. The U.S.-led NATO forces armed more warlords in their failed campaign against the Taliban, thus setting the stage for more civil war after western troops leave the country. For more info, see http://bit.ly/qUOdhr.
What about the effects here at home and abroad? As a nation, we will wind up spending several trillion dollars on these flawed aggressions, adding to our long-term debt. We have done tremendous damage to our reputation and destroyed our credibility. Perhaps more importantly, thousands of our troops have been killed and tens of thousands wounded, many disabled for life.
We also have learned that pseudo-experts' predictions about easy wars are usually wrong. In our consideration of an illegal and unwarranted attack, this time on Iran, hopefully we will take these lessons into account.