For the amount of lives and money our military has spent nation-building in nonexistent Middle Eastern nation states, we could have locked up our border, defeated the cartels, chased out the Mullahs in Iran, and evinced a strong deterrent against China. In fact, we could have done so at a fraction of the cost and without sparing too many lives. Instead, we have sunk trillions of dollars into Islamic tribal civil wars with so many of our best soldiers killed and have nothing to show for it other than cartels controlling our side of our own border, Iran as belligerent as ever, and China on the ascendancy.
According to Task and Purpose military magazine, every one of the 12 active-duty Special Forces groups (better known as “Green Berets”) has lost at least one soldier in Afghanistan or Syria this year. For an important war with a clear and sustainable purpose directly related to our national security, that would be an unfortunate but reasonable cost. But could someone answer the basic question of what are we doing in those two countries and on behalf of which tribes?
In past generations, when we lost soldiers in battle, we could point to the ground gained or preserved, the purpose of it, and the assurance that this was the absolute necessary cost of that imperative mission. In the case of places like Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, which have historically never really been nation-states along presently recognized boundaries, nobody is explaining which ground we are gaining or holding on behalf of whom, and in what sustainable way that will be supported by the locals without tipping the balance to another enemy. Most of all, how do these tribal wars affect us?
For example, are we fighting Iranian proxies in Syria or are we fighting the Sunni insurgency on behalf of Iran, thereby helping them? Or are we aimlessly taking turns alternating between the two? Who are we trying to prop up in Afghanistan, on behalf of whom are we rebuilding territory, and which tribe is supporting us? These are basic questions that not a single member of Congress is able to answer.
The problem is, as retired Col. Dan Steiner said on my show last week, our military-industrial complex and interservice rivalries has allowed what was originally supposed to be targeted strikes against specific terrorists to become a nation-building mission on the ground. This needlessly puts our troops at risk for no reason in unsustainable tribal warfare rather than investing in strike and maneuver to identify the threats and hit them with our air superiority.