According to a new Pew Research report on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, 51% of vets believe that relying too much on military force creates more hate which leads to more terrorism.
The Pew survey of vets found, “About half of post-9/11 veterans (51%) say relying too much on military force creates hatred that leads to more terrorism, while four-in-ten endorse the opposite view: that overwhelming force is the best way to defeat terrorism. The views of the public are nearly identical: 52% say too much force leads to more terrorism, while 38% say using military force is the best approach.”
Vets also support the military’s nation building role more than the American public, “About six-in-ten post-9/11 veterans (59%) support the noncombat “nation-building” role the military has taken on in Iraq and Afghanistan. The public and pre-9/11 veterans are less enthused. Just 45% of both groups say they think this is an appropriate role for the military.”
What makes this data even more interesting is that the survey also found that most vets of Iraq and Afghanistan are either Republicans (36%) or Independents (35%). This survey reveals a strong contingent of vets who think that the Bush Doctrine’s notion of relying on the military as foreign policy leads to more terrorism.
The vets who disagreed were rejecting the Bush idea of fighting them there so that we don’t have to fight them here. What the people who were there are saying is common sense. Too much military force creates hatred and leads to retaliation in the form of terrorism. The Republican presidential candidates are too obsessed with looking tough to say this, but it was a mistake to go it alone in Iraq. It was a mistake to think that we would be, “greeted as liberators,” as Dick Cheney still puts it today.
President Obama’s foreign policy has been wildly successful at taking out al-Qaeda, while at the same time getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush Doctrine was a failure. It is human nature that most veterans of Iraq would support the nation building role of the military. Those who serve there want to believe that their service is helping to make the world better. However, the strategy of destroying a nation and its people with too much military force before the nation can be rebuilt creates an obstacle to this noble goal.
Who understands this better, the politicians or the men and women who served there? We must never repeat the mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan, and we must rid ourselves of the notion that might is right is an acceptable substitute for a true foreign policy. The loss of so many Americans, and the struggles of those who served there and came home should always remind our nation that decision to go to war should never be taken lightly.