Eagle: Charles Hugh Smith on Lessons of War

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What Have We Learned From 24 Years of War?

Charles Hugh Smith

The responsibility for starting and ending wars, the way wars are fought and the losses we suffer all rest with our elected civilian leadership.

What have we learned from 24 years of war? Since the First Gulf War in early 1991, the U.S. has had continuous combat operations in one theater or another. After the first war, combat air patrols enforced the No-Fly Zones over Iraq for years, until 9/11 triggered the first phase of the Afghanistan War and President Bush led the nation into the Second Iraqi War in March 2003.

Though this war officially ended with U.S. troop withdrawals in December 2011, the war continues to burn through lives and treasure in Iraq and it continues on in the memories, wounds and lives of veterans and their families.

What have we learned from 24 years of continual warfare? There may be two sets of answers: one set for policy-makers, those we have elected to make the consequential decisions of war and withdrawal, and another set for the citizenry who provide the volunteers who actually fight the wars and the treasure to pay for the wars and their long aftermath.

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Phi Beta Iota: The missing lesson is that war is about spending money we do not have to provide profits to a few at the expense of the many. Neither the US military nor the US secret intelligence community are held accountable for being useful — they are merely are most expensive pork pies, and least accountable to the public. An honest government accountable to the public would withdraw from all foreign military bases and create a 450-ship Navy, a long-haul Air Force, an air-mobile Army, and an intelligence community able to provide ethical evidence-based decision support to Whole of Government and Whole of Society. What we have now is deep corruption, legalized crime, of, by, and for private banks.