According to the Buddha three things can not remain hidden long “the sun, the moon, and the truth.” Well it seems the truth is finally hitting home for most Americans as a new poll shows more see failure rather than success in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three trillion dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed, and not much accomplished.
The bright propaganda and glorious drum beat for war appears to have faded into the grim and gray reality of futility and heartbreak.
As two of the nation’s longest wars finally end, most Americans have concluded that neither achieved its goals. Those grim assessments in a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center poll underscore the erosion in support for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the loss of faith in the outcome of the wars, both launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The public’s soured attitudes may make it harder the next time a president tries to persuade Americans of the value of military action when it involves putting thousands of U.S. troops in harm’s way.
One can hope it would make it harder, and you could argue Syria was the first test case. The American people have had enough reckless imperialism in the Middle East, probably in general.
• On Iraq, Americans by 52%-37% say the United States mostly failed to achieve its goals. That is a decidedly more negative view than in November 2011, when U.S. combat troops withdrew. Then, by 56%-33%, those surveyed said the U.S. had mostly succeeded.
• On Afghanistan, Americans by a nearly identical 52%-38% say the U.S. has mostly failed to achieve its goals. In 2011, a month after Osama bin Laden was killed, a majority predicted the war would succeed.
The survey was conducted between January 15th and 19th and included 1500 American adults.
So all it took was two failed wars in the Middle East for Americans to lose their appetite for large scale wars. Though if anything these findings guarantee further use of drone strikes, special operations teams, and cyberwarfare for the American Empire to continue.
Then again, given the end of the Cold War and the failure to spread democracy in the Middle East, maybe we could rethink the American Empire. Maybe 800 military bases and a $600 billion annual war budget is a poor idea in 2014.
Just a thought.
U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik under public domain.