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What Have the Wars Done for You?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Can we fight a war, kill foreign leaders, declare victory, and then leave? How about travelling the world looking for monsters to slay? Will this keep us free and safe?

In the past week, three events occurred around the globe that have great implications for American freedom. On Thursday of last week, Col. Moammar Kaddafi, the acknowledged head of the government in Libya, was shot in the head on a public street corner by a young Libyan man wearing a New York Yankees cap and in the presence of about 25 witnesses, none of whom have stated that Kaddafi was armed. President Obama praised Kaddafi's demise, while human rights groups condemned it. The rebels who chased him from office have proclaimed themselves to be the legitimate Libyan government, and the U.S. has welcomed them. As recently as 2006, then-President Bush and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair proclaimed Col. Kaddafi a partner in the war on terror. And as recently as 2009, Sen. John McCain personally met with Col. Kaddafi, and promised to provide him with military weapons.

On Friday of last week, President Obama announced that all American military personnel in Iraq, except for about 100 who provide security for our new billion dollar Vatican-sized embassy in Baghdad, will be home before Christmas. Why did we go to Iraq in the first place? First, it was to seek out and destroy weapons of mass destruction, but none was found. Then we got involved in a civil war, and took sides with the group that had been excluded from the government. Then we were told that our purpose was regime change because Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, whether he had WMDs or not. Then we captured Saddam and he was tried in a kangaroo court and executed. We lost 4500 troops, 32,000 more were injured, 650,000 Iraqis were killed, and over two million Iraqis fled the country. This, along with our military adventurism in Afghanistan, cost the American taxpayers about a trillion dollars. The stated purpose for our departure is the decision of the popularly-elected Iraqi government to decline to afford immunity to American military personnel. Stated differently, the Iraqi government -- which we installed -- decided that after ten years, Americans in Iraq needed to obey the same laws as Iraqis do. That was too much for us, and so we are leaving.

And on Saturday of last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a frequent guest in the U.S. of Congress and of President George W. Bush, and whose country the U.S. took back from the Taliban, announced that should the U.S. engage in military conflicts with Pakistan, his government would side with the Pakistanis. This would mean that over 100,000 U.S. troops would be kicked out of Afghanistan and we would lose all our military hardware; or we would need to fight against the forces of the country we have supposedly liberated, and whose military we have trained, and which we have occupied for ten years. This war in Afghanistan has been the longest in U.S. history. It has cost us 2700 lives, 3400 injured; produced 3.5 million refugees; and because the U.S. government doesn't break these numbers down for us to see, consumed part of the trillion dollars we have spent in fighting these two useless wars in the Middle East.

Your government has few lasting friendships, but many lasting interests. After all this death and injury and after hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage we are repairing, we are still saddled with a trillion dollar cost because we borrowed the money to pay for these wars and have yet to pay it back. We are leaving Iraq; and Afghanistan wants us out; and the new government in Libya has announced that it will enact Sharia Law, which means polygamy and the stoning of women who disobey their husbands.

Are we more free or safer from all this? Of course not. We are less free because an entire generation of Middle Easterners has come of age resenting and hating the U.S. government, and an entire generation of Americans has come of age saddled with an additional trillion dollars in government debt. Without learning from history, we will be less safe. In Vietnam, we lost 50,000 troops, and we lost the war. Did we learn the lessons of our failures in Vietnam? NO. In Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Russians lost over 100,000 troops, and lost their war. Did we learn the lessons of the Russians' failures in Afghanistan? NO. Is it any wonder we have an economy that is collapsing here at home and young people demonstrating in the streets and the most unsettled time in America in the past 80 years? NO.

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