Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wars of Choice, Wars of Need?

Today's headline in the New York Times: Looking Back, Gates Says He’s Grown Wary of ‘Wars of Choice’
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, as he prepared to depart the government for the second time, said in an interview on Friday that the human costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had made him far more wary about unleashing the might of the American armed forces.

“When I took this job, the United States was fighting two very difficult, very costly wars,” Mr. Gates said. “And it has seemed to me: Let’s get this business wrapped up before we go looking for more opportunities.”

“If we were about to be attacked or had been attacked or something happened that threatened a vital U.S. national interest, I would be the first in line to say, ‘Let’s go,’ ” Mr. Gates said. “I will always be an advocate in terms of wars of necessity. I am just much more cautious on wars of choice.”
May we remember this the next moment we're faced with a military intervention. And yet, as we recall, both the Iraq and Afghan wars he speaks of were sold very strongly as wars of need. Not wars of choice. How, at that time, could we have convinced decision makers that those were not wars of need?

Wars of choice. The phrase rings of the right to an array of choices at the heart of consumerist society. Is that what got us into this?

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