Thirteen years ago, on 9/11/01, 2,977 innocent civilians were murdered in the United States by terrorists armed with nothing more than pilot licenses. Since that time, the US has deployed over 1 million troops and waged two wars in countries thousands of miles from its shores. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians were estimated to have been killed in the US-led war in Iraq, over 30 times the number of civilians killed on 9/11.
President Obama was critical of that war and pulled the US out of Iraq as he thought the US went to war with the wrong enemy. But when it came to Afghanistan, he engaged fully.
By the time Obama became president in 2009, an estimated 8,500 civilians had been killed in Afghanistan. Under his watch, from January 2009 until June 30, 2014, an additional 15,487 civilians were murdered, including 1,995 children. These totals were a fraction of the number of militants killed over those years.
Why has the Obama administration waged a war for so long? Why has it continued to fight – even though it knows of the terrible collateral damage – years after Osama bin Laden was killed?
The US continues to fight because the enemy still exists and intends to do harm.
President Obama was clear that the destruction of the terrorist infrastructure was one of the goals of his war. In November 2012 he said: “Thanks to sacrifice and service of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, al Qaeda has been decimated, Osama bin Laden is dead.”
Obama clearly articulated his war goals: to get the US out of a war which did not have an enemy threat; destroy the enemy (al Qaeda); and take revenge on the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
However, Obama seemingly does not feel that such priorities relate to Israel. For him, the goal in the region is limited to one thing – stability (which is laughable considering the total instability of Syria, Iraq, Egypt…). Israel, in his mind, is strong enough to take a few murdered teenagers and qassam rockets. Israel’s stability is secondary to that of the region generally.
Witness Secretary of State John Kerry’s prepared remarks towards Israel after the murder of three Israeli teenagers coming home from school: “the perpetrators must be brought to justice. This is a time for all to work towards that goal without destabilizing the situation.”
Obama himself added: “At this dangerous moment, all parties must protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not vengeance and retribution,”
America has been fighting with “vengeance and retribution” for 13 years (and counting), even when the collateral damage meant thousands of civilians murdered. Obama is actively seeking to defeat an enemy, even one thousands of miles away, that poses no existential threat to the USA.
So, how can Obama chide Israel, which has an enemy on its borders that is sworn to the country’s destruction, which fires missiles that can attack 80% of the population? How can he not understand Israel’s need to “decimate” its enemy?
The appropriate “reasonableness and restraint” may be limited to a polite response from the civilized world to Obama’s comment, while Israel actively engages Hamas and protects its citizens.