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Friday, August 21, 2009

The Eager Sheriff

This is a thought provoking op-ed written by Richard N. Haass, PhD, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars. Dr. Haass' definition of a war of necessity - "must meet two tests. They involve, first, vital national interests and, second, a lack of viable alternatives to the use of military force to protect those interests" - is pretty good. Using Dr. Haass' definition of a "war of necessity," however, I do not agree with him that the Korean War or the Gulf War were wars of necessity.

Dr. Haass' argument, although good, is hard to accept. He argues that the war in Afghanistan was a war of necessity, but now is a war of choice. He states that, "In the wake of 9/11, invading Afghanistan was a war of necessity. The United States needed to act in self-defense to oust the Taliban. There was no viable alternative," but now it is "a war of choice - a tough choice." At what point can a war of necessity turn into a war of choice? Apparently, according to Dr. Haass, it occurred once we removed the Taliban from power. A withdrawal at that point would have been short-sighted for if we had withdrawn, the Taliban would have quickly re-seized power, negating any efforts on our part.

In my mind, we had to stay and nation-build... I only wish our nation had been mobilized to help the war effort - we may have been much further along in Afghanistan if that had happened and our invasion of Iraq never happened. Also, in contrast to Dr. Haass, I believe that the only "vital national interest" that is worth going to war over is national survival.

Under my "war of national survival" context, I would classify Afghanistan as a just war following September 11th. However, in my context (aka dream world) Congress declares war, the entire nation is mobilized to support this declared war, and the selective service system is activated (even if we only drafted one citizen). Unfortunately, as stated on numerous occasions in this blog, Congress doesn't declare war anymore so that they can't be blamed for any mishaps, the selective service system will probably never be activated again, and the American public has a short attention span both mentally and financially when it comes to war. If this is the case, why then do we spend so much money in DoD? Is it so that we can be an eager sheriff, in contrast to Dr. Haass' Reluctant Sheriff? It is easy to be an eager sheriff when less than 1 percent of the population is sent off to fight ill-planned, ill-equipped, half-assed wars in foreign lands, protecting American iPhone users' ability to download new applications like the "I Am Rich" App from the App Store.

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