Sep 12

Issue: Military RSS

In Iraq and Afganistan, how we know when a war is won

Posted 3 years, 7 months ago.


For the second time since the U.S. called an end to combat in Iraq, American military units fired on insurgent soliders 50 miles outside of Baghdad, the New York Times reported Sunday.

The 50,000 troops still stationed there are focused on training Iraqi security forces to be able to protect the country’s citizens on their own before a full withdrawal of American troops by the end of 2011.

It brings to mind a question shaped by ABC News anchor Terry Moran at a symposium held at the National Constitution Center in March to discuss the Constitution’s balance of power when a war — like America’s battle in Iraq and Afganistan — is prolongued.

“How do we know when we win,” he asked the panel, which included U.S. Army General Jack Keane (Ret.), Brigadier General H. R. McMaster, and Yale Law School professor Bruce Ackerman.

Brigadier General H. R. McMaster

“The key now is if you want to have an Iraq that is secure where you have sustainable security and stability and a country that doesn’t prey on itself, that’s not a threat to its neighbors, that doesn’t develop weapons of mass destruction and so forth,” BG H.R. McMaster said, months before the withdrawal.

And General Jack Keane offered his thoughts on the continuing situation in both countries. “…The political objective is a stable, secure country or environment where the military and police are capable of protecting the people from internal threat and also from an external threat. To achieve that requires military-civilian objectives in support of that political objective,” he said.

The entire transcript of that fascinating conversation is available on our partner blog, The Peter Jennings Project. And for more on the subject, see our lesson plans on executive and legislative war powers.