Stephen Perlman [“The U.S. didn’t lose in Afghanistan,” letters, April 19] answered the arguments Andrew J. Bacevich made in his April 13 Outlook commentary, “Why veterans are proud of wars we didn’t win,” with questions of his own, including, “On what metrics is he basing his argument?”
The metrics chosen to bolster the argument for victory in Iraq and Afghanistan were chosen after the fact. The United States didn’t meet the goals first set for the wars, so it changed those goals so that we could declare that we won.
Pronouncements as to the mission in Iraq seemed to change with alarming frequency. It was never clear to me why we invaded and occupied Afghanistan, either. Thousands of lives and trillions of dollars later, I still don’t know the answer. Was it to get Osama bin Laden? He has been dead since 2011 and was out of Afghanistan long before that. We didn’t rout the Taliban from Afghanistan. Terrorism continues. Iraq, though it holds elections, is beset with sectarian tension.
The last sentence of Mr. Perlman’s letter was especially telling: “If anything will be lost in the future, it will not be our military’s fault.” In other words, we won, no matter what. I agree with part of his claim, though. The fault lies not with the military but rather with the politicians and, ultimately, the voters who put them in office.
The United States is rightly proud of the men and women serving in the military. They, in turn, can be proud of their service, even in the no-win situations into which they have been placed.
John Goehl, Biscayne Park, Fla.