Last week, the Washington Post was kind enough to publish a letter I wrote in response to a column by Tom Ricks, a former WaPo journalist and author. The letter is here:
Thanks to Thomas E. Ricks for his Oct. 27 Sunday Opinion piece, “Can the military learn from its mistakes?” I am glad such a prominent voice on military affairs is raising the question of the United States’ lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, Mr. Ricks missed the forest for the trees.
The U.S. military has failed to win because it has engaged in civil wars whose causes and meanings are absent any U.S. concern; Iraq, of course, is a civil war of our own making. There is no strategy, and certainly no general, capable of winning a war whose foundations were as morally rotten as the wars in Vietnam or Iraq, or a war in which success requires the funding and fortification of a corrupt and illegitimate government such as the regime in Kabul.
We can continue to argue about troop levels, deify or defrock generals and debate strategies, or we can own up to the reality that war is a failure. Until we do, lives will continue to be shattered without gain.