Victory has proved more expensive, time-consuming, and elusive than advocates predicted for the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya
Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. What do these conflicts have in common beyond U.S. involvement, at great expense? A trio of news stories published today hint at one significant similarity.
Item one: "The hugely expensive U.S. attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan has had only limited success and may not survive an American withdrawal, according to the findings of a two-year congressional investigation."
Item two: "The State Department is preparing to spend close to $3 billion to hire a security force to protect diplomats in Iraq after the U.S. pulls its last troops out of the country by year's end."
Item three: "British and French attack helicopters struck for the first time inside Libya over the weekend, significantly ramping up NATO's operations. Ten explosions shook the capital early Wednesday, a day after the alliance's most intense wave of air strikes of the two-month campaign. The intensified air strikes raise the question of whether NATO is sticking rigidly to its U.N. mandate to protect civilians."
Do you see what I see?
Despite the differences in these wars, all are proceeding in ways that were unanticipated by their most prominent backers. In every case, the unwelcome surprises are so significant that they totally change the nature of the conflict. And had Americans had better forecasts about what would actually be involved in these military operations, opposition to launching them might have been far more widespread.