25 July 2015

Aeon Magazine: “Are Americans’ ideas about war stuck in WWII?”

Massive blunders aside, it is also true that the US waged military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq about as well any modern nation could. The Pentagon had never seriously contemplated fighting a war in Afghanistan until 9/11 and yet, within weeks, US forces and their Afghan allies were overrunning the country. In 2003, Iraqi forces began crumbling within days of the onset of shock and awe, and Iraqi defence against the subsequent US ground invasion amounted to little more than a tactical retreat. But these momentary triumphs masked a deeper reality about modern conflict that troubled US pursuits from the beginning. Military victory in Iraq or Afghanistan was never, in fact, a real possibility. The very nature of war has changed so much in recent decades that military victory as we tend to imagine it, with winners and losers emerging after a fight with an unambiguous end, is utterly obsolete.

Mark Kukis

I would say this fundamental change is linked to globalization and the trend towards declining violence in the past decades. The loss of civilian lives is much less acceptable to the public opinion, faster communication and increased mobility enable smaller countries to resist longer and more efficiently to an external assault. Military action should be absolutely the last resort when resolving conflicts, especially since the short-term victory in Iraq inadvertently created a more complicated threat.

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