The Cost of Confusion

10 months ago Citizen#7 0

War in Iraq started March 20, 2003 and officially ended December 18, 2011. We still haven’t been able to extricate ourselves from the nation building of Iraq and have approximately 4, 087 troops currently fighting ISIS in Iraq and the number is creeping up. The cost of nation building in Iraq is $117,035 – per hour.  The cost of fighting ISIS is $615,482 – per hour. Source: National Priorities Project

We have lost over 4, 518 soldiers in combat. Our allies have lost an additional 321 soldiers. Source: iCasualties

According to the World Bank’s governance indicators, from 2003 until 2013, Iraq has consistently scored in the bottom 10 percentile for control of corruption, rule of law and political stability according to a report by Transparency International.


We rightly pursued Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan the perpetrator of the 9-11 attack. The war in Afghanistan started on Sunday, October 7th 2001. Officially the war in Afghanistan ended December 28th 2014. We still have approximately 8,400 troops there. We have lost approximately 2,394 soldiers. Our allies have lost an additional 1,136 in combat.

In a report in the Guardian the US has lost approximately 100 billion in aid to corruption, and endemic condition in Afghanistan. reports a study that concluded the US has spent upwards of 5 trillion dollars so far between Iraq and Afghanistan. It would be fair to say our efforts at Nation building in both countries have been mediocre at best. We have paid a great deal in blood and treasure for the modest gains we have obtained.

Thursday, April 6th President Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles aimed at a Syrian airfield. The airfield was the source of a Sarin gas attack on civilians. Pundits by and large immediately after the attack praised the president action.  Now they are asking what’s next?

At the time of the missile launch President Trump was meeting with Xi Jinping president of China. Reportedly in that meeting President Trump was trying to secure China’s support and assistance in getting some control over North Korea and its president Kim Jong-un. No information about the success or failure of President Trump’s efforts have been made public.

Since that meeting with China’s president our President has ordered a naval strike group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson into position in the Sea of Japan, off the North Korean coast. North Korean president Kim Jong-un and President Trump have been exchanging statements increasing challenging statements to one another further ratcheting up the tension. South Korea, China, and Japan most immediately and the rest of the world by default are increasingly concerned about the escalating situation.

Most people aided with  20/20 hindsight realize that Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction as we were led to believe. We rushed into a war, and haven’t as yet been able to extricate ourselves from either Iraq or Afghanistan. If you read the excellent book, “Fiasco” by  Thomas Ricks who clearly establishes the US had no plan for what comes next after the battle is over. We seem to have repeated that failure to effectively plan for what comes next after we defeat the enemy on the battlefield. We still don’t seem to have a plan to address the political, social, and economic challenges we face in both Iraq and Afghanistan even after 16 years of war.

Einstein was asked how he would solve a difficult problem if given only an hour. He responded by saying, I would spend the first 50 minutes trying to understand the problem. US Military strategists often refer to a book written sometime in the 6th century BC by a Sun Tzu called “The Art of War”. Sun Tzu said, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”.

Comments from our Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and our UN ambassador Nicki Haley have been in conflict with one another and comments from the President and Press Secretary Sean Spicer have only added to the confusion about the US position with Syria and North Korea. Russia has stated via their ambassador that the relationship between the US and Russia is at the worst its been since the fall of the Soviet Union.

We need to take a deep breath ask our Congress and White House to step back at least for a while, develop a strategy that can be successful and not lead us to another war that is going to plunge us deeper in debt, cause untold harm to millions, and the death of more American soldiers.

Sun Tzu said it best, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”