Fifteen year ago Donald Rumsfeld said Afghanistan was pacified and George W. Bush said the U.S. mission in Iraq was “accomplished.” Fifteen years later the disastrous neconservative assumptions are in full view, says Chas Freeman.
By Chas Freeman
Fifteen years ago on May 1, 2003, speaking in Kabul, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld declared that, in Afghanistan, “we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction activities.” Later that same day, standing on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, President George W. Bush proclaimed that “…major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” He described the U.S. overthrow of the Iraqi government as “one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001,” adding that our “war on terror is not over, yet it is not endless.”
But, evidently, it is indeed endless. Secretary Rumsfeld defined success in this war as not creating more terrorists than we kill. That seems a fair standard. But, by this criterion, what we have done is clearly counterproductive.
In 2003, we invaded Iraq to prevent weapons of mass destruction that did not exist from falling into the hands of terrorists who also did not exist until our arrival and subsequent misconduct begat them. In 2003, we were engaged in military operations in two West Asian nations – Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2018, the Cost of War Project at Brown’s Watson Institute documents American involvement in some level of combat in seventy-six nations. For at least the past fifteen years, we have been creating more terrorists than we kill.
Anti-American terrorists with global reach and home-grown terrorists alike explain that they are over here because we are over there. Our political leaders keep saying that they can’t possibly have that right. Surely, they hate us because of who we are, not what we’ve done and where. But…