Iraq War, Afghan War Lost

By Joseph Farah

January 8, 2014 5 min read

With the news that Fallujah is back in the hands of al-Qaida, it's fair to say the U.S.'s 13-year-old war in Iraq has been lost.

A series of bombings by terrorists in Baghdad over the weekend killed more than 20. As American forces continue to draw down in Afghanistan with the Taliban, who are allies of al-Qaida and still occupying most of the country, it's difficult to see what was achieved in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.

The longest war in United States history has resulted in some 21,000 casualties, with 73 percent of them occurring in 2009 and after, during the leadership of President Barack Obama.

The 2004 battle for Fallujah alone, conducted as a street-by-street, house-by-house ground campaign, resulted in the deaths of 95 American soldiers and left 560 wounded.

Both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were waged by the U.S. at a cost of billions of dollars per month. It's time to ask the obvious question: Was it all worth it? Neither war had clear goals from the start. What began as vague "wars against terrorism" certainly didn't defeat terrorism, which is on the rise in both countries.

This is what happens when you fight wars against a "tactic" of war rather than a clearly defined enemy. Not that long ago, Obama told Americans al-Qaida was "on the run." It appears today that al-Qaida is sprinting toward victory on both fronts.

Not only is al-Qaida winning back ground it lost in Iraq and Afghanistan during these never-ending conflicts, it is also surging in Lebanon and Syria — with the help of the U.S.

Obama made the strategic decision to aid Muslim Brotherhood rebels in Syria. But now, the weapons and other supplies America gave these fighters is in the hands of al-Qaida's network, resulting in more violence in Syria, with much of it spreading to Lebanon.

One can only wonder how much worse the situation would be had Obama's wild and irresponsible plan to directly attack Syria been approved by Congress. It's true that Syria is run by a dictator — a second-generation tyrant named Bashar al-Assad. But in the Arab and Muslim world, good guys are in short supply. As bad as Assad is, he actually was a stabilizing factor in the Middle East, an enemy of al-Qaida and a protector of religious minorities — especially Christians.

Christians are being massacred and chased out of their homes in Syria, as the fighting and bombings and intimidation by al-Qaida spreads into Lebanon.

It's complicated, isn't it? But it gets worse.

Syria is aligned with Iran. In fact, Assad would have been toppled by now had Iran's Hezbollah guerrillas not been aiding Assad's army. Hezbollah is the most significant military force in Lebanon, overshadowing the Lebanese Army. Iran represents a serious threat not only to Israel but also to the U.S. because of its nuclear weapons program. Iraq has plunged into Iran's orbit, thanks to the U.S. war there. This is why al-Qaida, a Sunni terrorist network, is at battle in Iraq, as well as in Lebanon and Syria.

But the U.S. has no strategy for victory over, or even containment of, any of these forces. It's a mess. There are no easy answers. The U.S. continues to follow a half-hearted strategy doomed to failure at the cost of American lives and billions a month in financial costs.

Former President George W. Bush made mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan. But these mistakes have been compounded by Obama, whose campaign for the presidency in 2008 was a "peace" platform. America, more than ever, is still stumbling and bumbling with its military policy on all these fronts. Meanwhile, the terror and misery of the populations in these countries is worsening.

Does anyone understand what the U.S. is still doing in Afghanistan and Iraq?

To find out more about Joseph Farah and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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