Morality of GWOT

AdamZ42

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Whats up guys and gals.
This post is me searching for the opinions of those who have fought the GWOT on the morality of the GWOT. I come from a hippie background, my friends are peace loving deadheads. I believe our country is out to make the world a better place. I believe in the upholding human rights and the values of democracy. My friends and family constantly get in debates about the GWOT and the morality of wars we have been involved in over the last 20 years. They say that we come in with good intentions and end up oppressing the populations we seek to free. My uncles are ex-marines (one was wounded in Vietnam) and they are not happy with the way our country treats our warriors. They say we go overseas to fight wars that no one cares about or understands. The thought of that hurts. I have watched the Green Beret documentary "Why We Fight Now- The GWOT". I connect to their motivation for being in the fight. I want to believe that the end result the career I am training so hard for is to free the oppressed and not to line some politicians pocket. I understand that this is a job where freedom of thought is limited, and I am okay with that as long as the motives are just. What are your thoughts ?
 

Gunz

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...I want to believe that the end result the career I am training so hard for is to free the oppressed and not to line some politicians pocket. I understand that this is a job where freedom of thought is limited, and I am okay with that as long as the motives are just...
"Just motives" are subjective. What seems just to you might seem unjust to somebody else. Clausewitz said war is merely an extension of politics, and in most cases I think he's right. That means, as a warfighter, you are sent to do violence at the whim of politicians and civilian appointees.

The GWOT started as revenge for 9/11 and morphed into a number of different objectives. What might begin as a just war to "free the oppressed" could turn into something very different as it evolves. Like your uncles, I fought in Vietnam and was wounded bad enough to get a ticket back to CONUS. I went to war believing very strongly that I was helping the people of South Vietnam resist communist aggression. But that simple-sounding "just" cause ended up being far more politically complicated.

The soldier obeys orders. He goes where he's told to go. If you think you're going to have a moral dilemma with the mission--like Bowe Bergdahl--then the military is probably not the place for you.
 

AdamZ42

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"Just motives" are subjective. What seems just to you might seem unjust to somebody else. Clausewitz said war is merely an extension of politics, and in most cases I think he's right. That means, as a warfighter, you are sent to do violence at the whim of politicians and civilian appointees.

The GWOT started as revenge for 9/11 and morphed into a number of different objectives. What might begin as a just war to "free the oppressed" could turn into something very different as it evolves. Like your uncles, I fought in Vietnam and was wounded bad enough to get a ticket back to CONUS. I went to war believing very strongly that I was helping the people of South Vietnam resist cBut that simple-sounding "just" cause ended up being far more politically complicated.

The soldier obeys orders. He goes where he's told to go. If you think you're going to have a moral dilemma with the mission--like Bowe Bergdahl--then the military is probably not the place for you.
I’m not a conscientious objector. I truly believe in our country. I understand that as a solider you are an extension of foreign policy and it’s not up to you to analyze the big picture.
I’m not trying to debate the right or wrong of our foreign policy, I think we would all have similar views. I’m just curious as to how the majority of our warfighters perceive the results of their sacrifices.
 

lindy

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They say we go overseas to fight wars that no one cares about or understands. The thought of that hurts.
It’s absolutely true. When we were at war, America was at the mall. ISIS senior leadership were ALL graduates of the Bucca jihadist academy, which is where they got their street cred. 10th Group is fighting the “Taliban” (it’s actually the HiG) in the EXACT same places we cleared before...and the French before us.

My family was horrified at the helmet cam video I bought back and even though they saw my team on CNN, they thought it was isolated event because they had no idea we were fighting so much. We didn’t have worst of it like the guys in Wardak did. @Viper1

I was 42 when I went. I don’t miss the fighting but I miss being surrounded by people who run into a wall of lead for a teammate. We’re not being invaded by a hostile power so, for me personally, it’s not about baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie but rather the safety and survival of the team.

Not trying to be rude, but your friends and family do not understand what Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria were like under totalitarian Islamic rule. Yes, there’s political corruption but nobody’s getting their heads chopped, crucified, or burned alive for listening to Nickleback over there.
 

AdamZ42

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I was 42 when I went. I don’t miss the fighting but I miss being surrounded by people who run into a wall of lead for a teammate. We’re not being invaded by a hostile power so, for me personally, it’s not about baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie but rather the safety and survival of the team.

Not trying to be rude, but your friends and family do not understand what Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria were like under totalitarian Islamic rule. Yes, there’s political corruption but nobody’s getting their heads chopped, crucified, or burned alive for listening to Nickleback over there.
I definitely agree. I am no expert on the subject and am just trying to learn. Thank you for your perspective!
 

Marauder06

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Morality is fungible, and is often shaped by outcomes. Very few people would be expressing concerns about Viet Nam or the GWOT if we would have obtained a clear victory. We firebombed THE SHIT out of Germany in WWII. We nuked Japan. Many people, particularly modern progressive academics, like to point out the perceived immorality of those actions. But the bottom line is, we won. Convincingly. We have the photo ops to prove it. We did not win in Korea, or Viet Nam, and we're not (IMO) winning in Iraq or Afghanistan. Hence, people are a lot more concerned about the morality of those conflicts.

Also, when it comes to national security, there is a body of thought that nations have no business in the morality business. Machiavelli was a huge proponent. The international relations concept of "realism" relies heavily on the notion that nations, and hence leaders, have a responsibility to be "amoral" (as opposed to immoral) in matters of state security.

After 24 years in the Army and 7 tours downrange, my moral compass has a lot more play in it now than it did when I was younger.
 

Jaknight

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Well, some people will tell you it's hard to defeat a tactic (i.e. "terrorism"). But IMO, it's because we're not willing to do what it takes to win.
If you don't mind me asking what would we have to do to win?
 

AdamZ42

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See post #7. Apply to modern times.
I believe we could definitely win with that approach. But for how long? Would carpet bombing the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan just fuel an extremist ideology? I think so. From my civilian perspective Islamic extremism creates a warrior that is not afraid to die. I think that to win we need to crush that soul by putting the fear of god into them. But how do we do that to a population that jumps at the chance to meet their god. Give them a reason to live ? Shit idk I’m just spitballing now.
 

lindy

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Why can’t we win the GWOT..?
The same reason some people hate the police, ICE, etc here. The weapon of choice in AF is IED and the AK but here it’s Twitter. Both places the belligerents are using asymmetric warfare.

The Islamic State is very different though because of the “Caliph’s” call for Muslims to make the Hijrah to the Levant. The overwhelming number of foreigners who went believed they were following their religious obligation and didn’t want to fight but simply live in their own area according to Islam. Fighting the kuffar would be required “according to God’s will.”
 

lindy

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From my civilian perspective Islamic extremism creates a warrior that is not afraid to die. I think that to win we need to crush that soul by putting the fear of god into them.
You don’t understand the Islamic State. The devoted “love death more than you love life” and currently they believe the reason they are losing is because they’ve turned away from God. They honestly believe they can defeat both the coalition AND the pro-Syrian regime forces (SY, RU, & IR) by becoming more religious and strictly following Islam as Muhammad did.

At least when they were in the Levant, we knew where they were.
 

Gunz

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Why can’t we win the GWOT or why does it seem like that?
Nobody's ever going to win a Global War on Terror...if by win you mean victory. It's whack a mole. You can contain it, quell it in some places and it'll just keep cropping up somewhere else. It's not something you can carpet bomb into extinction.

Just to contain it, you'd need a constant presence in all the places where it exists. We are essentially trying to do that with our SF/SOF in various hotspots around the globe. But terrorism is always going to be there. It's the poor man's atom bomb.

There's a saying about insurgencies and asymmetric warfare: all the enemy has to do to win is wait for you to leave. That was true in Vietnam. Our departure from OIF indirectly hastened the growth of the Islamic State. The Taliban are still active, still killing our soldiers after two decades. And they're waiting.

We'll be fighting terrorism in some form forever because of exponential population growth, especially in poor areas. Crowded slums are a breeding ground. If it's not radical jihadists, it'll be somebody else.
 
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