War in the middle east. It’s happening again for the United States (lets see, this will be the first, second, third, fourth, no fifth intervention in the U.S. since 9/11/01). First we went into A-stan, then Iraq, fooled around during the Spring in Egypt and Libya. In an unprecedented (am I kidding?) turn of events, the government refused to back a legitimate people-led revolt in Iran, even though we know that of all middle-eastern countries, Persia/Iran’s youth are the most pro-western. Now folks are bringing out the drummer boys to get ready to rock and roll into Syria.  Why?

Why is a good question. Officials claim we must intervene because Assad used chemical weapons that killed his own people. To be exact, 150 were killed with chemical weapons. In a war where 93,000 have died from good ol’ n0-intervention-necessary bullets and rockets. So predictable though- we are going to go there, establish a no-fly zone, and most likely have boots on the ground within 6 months. How do I know? We have history to thank for that, and the fact that Congress tipped their hand when they suddenly cared about 150 people/93,000.

The history I refer to is the tendency of wars to give in to Mission Creep. It’s what happens when one day you decide your garage is no longer going to store your car, but instead protect your gym equipment. A year later you have a full-on mancave with a minibar, flat screen tv, a couch, and a pool table.

Mission Creep matters as the U.S. has a history of doing this with it’s wars, going back to the Spanish American war in 1898 (we can go further, but lets stay somewhat focused). Here are a couple of wars (I did not include our minor interventions) over the last 115 years, with a short blurb on the mission creep that happened.

  • Spanish American War:what started over a spat in Cuba (where the Cubans wanted independence from Spain) ended up with the United States obtaining colonial authority over Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, effectively making the United States an empire. For roughly 50 years we were still well entrenched in Cuban domestic affairs, and the Philippines became independent in 1946. Notice that we are still occupying Guam, and holding Puerto Rico as territories to this day.
  • World War I: the United States started out bankrolling both sides. While most are told we went to war because the Germans sunk a (British) ship and killed Americans, we had been bankrolling the Brits and supplying arms under the table for a long time, and some dead Americans on foreign ships made a good excuse to go all in.
  • World War II: started out as a war to liberate and conquer, ended up with the United States nation-building, setting up alliances, providing for the defense of Europe, and never leaving. Even after The Wall came down.
  • Korea: started as an international effort to block communist expansion, ended up with the United States pulling border security 60 years later.
  • Vietnam: started out with aid to South Vietnam and patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin. One day in 1964 some communist “patrol boats” attacked the USS Maddox. Two days later it was alleged the US Navy was attacked again, although declassified reports now say it was completely made up. At that point it was time for WAR, and 9 years later we were evacuating tens of thousands of refugees while Saigon fell, and 60,000 Americans lay dead because the United States was too cowardly to actually cross into North Vietnam and hit the enemy at home.
  • Iraq I: what started as a liberation party ended up as a 12 year operation to maintain no-fly zones, while watching thousands of Iraqis get killed (ones that we promised to back up if they revolted against Saddam- notice the difference between then and now).
  • Iraq II: started out as an operation to find WMD, get it out of the area, and shut down the torture chambers. A decade later we have wasted billions on setting up a government that now has a security agreement with Iran to fight against the United States in the event of war. Thanks W.
  • Afghanistan: same as Iraq, except we had a real reason to go there- they attacked us. At first we were supposed to topple the Taliban and Al Qaeda (the same Al Qaeda we are funding and arming in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and probably the next country to go up in flames). Then we were supposed to democratize the country. Now we are trying to build an economy with modern infrastructure, along with the workings of a modern bureaucratic system where the unbroken tradition for thousands of years was to deal with issues at the tribal level, and to kill all dissenters. Its working out well (sarcasm).

So sleep well knowing that this has happened before, and one day your grand child will be patrolling the same land you fought on, fighting the same battle, and that nothing will change. Its your fault too, since you keep on electing these people.