Our Unjust Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Have Blinded Us to a Real Threat

U.S. motives for Iraq were so hidden that we no longer trust our leaders to wage a just war. (Photo: PEO Soldier / Flickr)

U.S. motives for Iraq were so hidden that we no longer trust our leaders to wage a just war. (Photo: PEO Soldier / Flickr)

A sports or entertainment columnist that we read on a regular basis often becomes a trusted voice to us. When he or she turns to different subjects, especially politics and world affairs, the columnist is in a unique position to reach a readership not interested in those subjects or who may be under the spell of hard-right personalities. In recent years, noted sportswriter Mike Lupica has been writing such columns for the New York Daily News. Recently, whether you agree with him or not, Lupica shares an arresting insight.

This is how it happens after years of fighting wars we never should have fought in the first place, after a war in Iraq that was the most corrupt and criminal in all of American history.

This is what it is like after Iraq and Afghanistan, and now that we are faced with an enemy like ISIS: We talk now about a real war, one that needs to be fought. Only we don’t want to fight it ourselves.

… When finally faced with an enemy that is an actual danger to the United States of America, something Saddam Hussein never was for five minutes, there is barely enough support for war to fit inside a shot glass. After all the years of dumb wars, we stand on the sidelines and bark out signals for others to fight one now.

… This is an Al Qaeda that doesn’t come out of the sky but spits right in our eye. We know we have to fight back. We talk big about fighting back. We just don’t want to do it with our own troops.

Setting aside for a moment that alternatives exist to war and conceding Lupica his point, this is what happens when a state such as the United States fights unjust wars. When finally confronted with a war, such as with the Islamic State, that, on the surface, seems just, Americans balk. We’re used to fighting wars in a moral zone that’s, at best, a gray area. We can no longer conceive of a war such as World War II where the rationale for war was black and white.

Lupica points out more of the obvious.

… It will be interesting to see which of our allies does raise a hand and step forward, because they all fear what President Obama fears about ISIS: That once there are troops on the ground, the men in the black masks won’t be murdering journalists or British aid workers — they will be murdering soldiers one at a time. … if our country puts Special Forces on the ground to set the targets for these air attacks that we keep hearing about, then before long it will be a member of U.S. Special Forces kneeling in an orange jumpsuit.

No state wants one of their troops to be that guy — or God forbid — that woman butchered on video for the world to see. In other words, the Islamic State has instilled fear in all our hearts. Leaving it to the next nation to deal with the Islamic State’s breathtaking audacity will only allow IS to expand its reach.