PRESIDENT BUSH’S APPROACH TO THE AFGHAN AND IRAQ WAR 9
PresidentBush’s Approach to the Afghan and Iraq War
PresidentBush’s Approach to the Afghan and Iraq War
Thewar in Afghanistan and Iraq were championed by the United Statesunder the leadership of George W. Bush. While the two wars wereundertaken for different reasons, different circumstances and withdifferently formulated missions, they portray a similarity that dragsthe name of George W. Bush into the discussion. The similarity is inthe approach that president Bush undertook the wars in and theresulting consequences of the war. The two wars present a similar didnot achieve the mission in totality, and they left the countriesworse than they found them. While the wars were the best responses,the approach in the two wars was the wrong approach by PresidentBush. The discussion in this paper will illustrate that the approachof President Bush in the wars was inconclusive despite undertakingthe correct response.
Thewar in Iraq and Afghanistan were the right call for President Bushand the United States army. The two wars were examples of thedetermination by the United States to win the war against terrorismand achieve a peaceful homeland and safe external interests.According to Bolger (2014), the two main goals of the United Statesin regard to these wars were to secure the safety of its externalinterest and protect America from aggression. This came after theSeptember 9 11 attacks that exemplify the extent of the threat thatterrorism poses to the world’s most developed economy (Bolger,2014). To secure the two goals, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wereinevitable. It was the right decision for the United States to engagein the war and ensure the enemy is defeated before harming theAmerican homeland.
However,the approach to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq was the wrong side ofthe war that cost America a fortune but did not live to succeed theintended results. The approach was wrong in terms of the formulationof the ultimate mission of engaging in the war and the intendedoutcomes. The approach was not conclusive in the means through whichAmerica was to achieve the two major goals of protecting America(Bolger, 2014). Lack of proper planning on ending the Taliban andextremist factions in the Afghanistan was a major highlight of theengagement of war with America. This was a major problem during theplanning stage, because the country should have focused on endingterrorism rather than just dismantling al-Qaida.
Atthe same time, the approach applied by the United States under theleadership of President Bush did not focus on the bigger picture ofthe intended goals of the country. This is because the intentions ofAmerica were to end terrorism and not necessarily run overAfghanistan and Iraq (Bolger, 2014). The approach could have beenfocused on securing America by engaging in a war that wouldcompletely eliminate the terrorist cells rather than disorganizetheir structure. While the mission of the United States wassuccessful in dismantling their organizational structure, it was notconclusive in eliminating the terrorist groups and extremists thatoperated in the Middle East countries.
InAfghanistan, the United States had an inconclusive mission ofdismantling the al-Qaida network and their military bases(Mahnken & Keaney, 2007).This was successful and the American military successfully achievedthe target of disengaging the terror group. However, the war did notachieve the ultimate target of eliminating terrorism as a threat tothe United States. Even to date, America and its allies are facingthe same problem that led American troops to the Middle East countryto eliminate terrorism (Shorabak, 2015). The main cause is theadoption of the wrong approach in engaging in the right war. Americashould have planned for the post-war period of these two countries.
Theapproach by the president bush security planners did not envisage theafter effects of the war and plan for the reconstruction orrestructuring of the two countries. As a result, the militaryengagement in the two Middle East countries only focused on thedestabilization of the target in terms of structure and militarycapacity (Lansford,2011).The American military seemed to focus only on the target because theywere not prepared for the lengthy stay in the two countries. Afterthe mission of winning the war was achieved, the American militarydid not fulfill the second part of the mission, which was the mostimportant part of the military engagement. The American governmentshould have ensured that Iraq and Afghanistan were left in asituation that they can take control over their countries and preventa rise in terrorist groups.
Theapproach left the target countries Afghanistan and Iraq in a worsepolitical state than it was before the war. In Afghanistan, the postwar period left the country in a politically weak governancestructure, leading to the rise of political instabilities (West,2011).As a result, the extremist groups in Afghanistan arose again andstarted terrorist attacks against the new government that was putforth in the country. In 2015, there was confirmation that theTaliban extremist group was in operation in the country. In addition,the Islamic State (ISIS) was confirmed to be operating in Afghanistan(Shorabak, 2015). These two incidences in the year 2015 indicates thelong term results of the destabilized political structures that wereleft by the American military after the entry in 2001. In the currentday, America is still fighting the ISIS and the Taliban, who threatenthe American security, a situation that was before the wars.
InIraq, the script is almost the same with just the circumstantialsituations being the difference between the two countries. Americanapproach to the war was not long term, but a short term perspectivein ending the rule of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial governance(Lansford,2011).The same script applies in terms of primary mission and secondarymission, despite the having different circumstances. Americanmilitary achieved the short term primary target of ending Saddam’srule and the fall of his government. The American military furthersucceeded to capture the former Iraqi dictator and bring to justice.However, America failed in the ultimate target of ensuring that thepost-war Iraq was free from occupation by the insurgency andterrorist groups.
Theapproach left Iraq in a politically fragile state that could notsuccessfully resist the emergence of extremist groups. As a result,the power vacuum left by the fall of Saddam gave way for theemergence of insurgent military groups that resisted theestablishment of the post war government and the CoalitionProvisional Authority (CPA). This introduced a lengthy period ofwidespread sectarian violence between the two main tribes theShias and Sunnis(Mahnken & Keaney, 2007).Coupled with the insurgency fighting against the United States ledIraqi transitional government, the country was led into a politicalmess that gave ground for more development of terrorists, the mainenemy of the United States.
Thelong unexpected stay of the American military in Afghanistan was asignal of the lack of anticipation of the post-war Afghanistan in theplanning stages. This shows that the approach taken by the UnitedStates president was inconclusive of the withdrawal strategy of theAmerican military. On the same note, the Iraqi experience portrays asimilar approach that did not anticipate post-war Iraq (Kirsch& Flint, 2011).
Theapproach did not seem to have involved a long term plan of thepost-war Iraq led to the lengthy stay of the United States militaryin Iraq. This explains why President Bush has promised that the warin Iraq was to cost less than it actually cost(Mahnken& Keaney, 2007).Moreover, the resulting environment gave ground to the development ofthe current problem if the ISIS, which is now the main threat towardsthe United States security.
Blundersthat marked the Wrong Approach
Thewrong approach was marked by a number of blunders in the two wars. Inthe case of Iraq, American military engaged the war with an elementof blunder in planning for the number of military personnel needed.The Bush administration was not willing to get fully committed todeploy the military forces needed for the war and to create order inthe country after winning. According to Diamond (2004), the U.Smilitary officials were advised of the approach, but did not heed tothe calls for a stable political post-war Iraq. The military plannersseemed to ignore the long term effects of the war for post-war Iraqdespite the warnings by military experts in America. As a result ofthis blunder the political instability of Iraq after the war led tothe development of terrorist insurgents.
Inthe Afghan case, the major blunder was the expectation by the UnitedStates that the local people would support or not attack Americansforces in the war against the Taliban (West,2011).The blunder was to assume that the local communities would have apositive reception and response of the Iraqis towards the Americanoccupation. The approach assumed that the American military would beappreciated as the liberators to end the violent Taliban rule(Lansford,2011).Americans further blundered by ignoring the interests of the localcommunities in Afghanistan, especially those who collaborated withthe U.S. as a result of the blunder, the number of casualties in thewar was high, American military lost trust of local villagers whostarted hosting the Taliban back after their retreat in Pakistan.
Theother blunder associated with the approach of the Bush administrationwas to take a light military force in Iraq on a mission requiringlarger army. The problem in Iraq was not to topple Saddam Hussein,but also forces, but the lack of a politically stable and democraticgovernment that could avoid development of terrorism. The U.S underthe Bush administration did not send a large military that wouldcomplete the mission by bringing forth a democratic Iraq. Accordingto Diamond (2004), American troops were outnumbered because they wereunprepared to handle the period after the war. As a result, theeconomy of Iraqi was sabotaged instead of being built as the Americanmilitary and the CPA forces were overwhelmed by the insurgents.
Avoidingthe Approach and Blunders
Theapproach would be different if the Bush administration would haveconsidered the long term nature of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.The blunders could have been avoided if the planning stage of the twowars included proper plans for the aftermath. The Bush administrationshould have recognized the nature of the conflict and the level ofresources and personnel required to install democratic regimes aftertoppling the previous ones, all included in one mission. According toDiamond (2004), these considerations were anticipated by the pentagonsecurity officials, but may have been ignored by the bushadministration.
Theapproach of the Bush administration should have focused on theexpected outcome instead of overlooking the need for forces to set upa new government. The aftermath of the Afghanistan war was lengthy,same as that of the Iraqi occupation and the two were marked bypolitical instability of the two countries(Kirsch & Flint, 2011). Theinsurgency and the ethnic divisions should have been considered bythe American military planners as the fundamental cause of theendemic violence in the two countries. If the Bush administration hadplanned for such considerations before the war, the political stateof Afghanistan and Iraq could have been better that the way the twoMiddle East nations are now.
Theengagement in the war for America in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and2003 respectively, were both the right call by the United States.However, the approach adopted by the Bush administration was wrongfor the two countries, which share similar predicaments that describethe recent history that has shaped their current political state. Theapproach adopted by President Bush did not anticipate the long termnature of the military action and its importance to the security ofthe United States homeland and foreign interest. The approach wasfurther associated with certain blunders that not only defined theapproach, but led to the current situation. Despite the wrongapproach, the two wars defined the American determination to securethe homeland and foreign interests.
Bolger,D.P. (2014). WhyWe Lost: A General`s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.Boston, MA:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Diamond,L. (2004). "What Went Wrong inIraq," Web, Retrieved From,<http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/iraq/diamond.htm> May 10,2015
Kirsch,C., & Flint, C. (2011). ReconstructingConflict: Integrating War and Post-war Geographies.Farnham:Ashgate Publishing, Ltd
Lansford,T. (2011). 9/11and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Chronology and ReferenceGuide: A Chronology and Reference Guide.Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO
Mahnken,T.G., & Keaney, T.A. (2007). Warin Iraq: Planning and Execution. London:Routledge
Shorabak,C. (2015). "ISIS active in southAfghanistan, officials confirm for first time," Web,Retrieved From,<http://www.cbsnews.com/news/isis-active-in-south-afghanistan-officials-confirm-for-first-time/>May 10, 2015
West,B. (2011). The Wrong War:Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan.New York: RandomHouse Trade Paperbacks