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War: Why Winning Should Not be the Only Goal

The way war is operated and fought constantly changes. The goals for war differ depending on situations and needs, but in the 21st century, a trend is becoming apparent about the wars we are fighting and what needs to be accomplished by them.

We are not fighting wars between kingdoms or with outstretched swords like what was once done. Some of the current wars are still being fought over land, religion and borders, but many now are over terrorism, oil and the economy.

In recent years, wars have begun with the intention of shutting specific terrorist groups down, but in the process, have destroyed the livelihood and homes of innocent bystanders. This is, regrettably, one of the side effects of war.

However, war does not have to be left at that. Too many people misconceive that the goal of war is “winning”, regardless of what that winning entails. While, of course, losing is certainly not the goal, the goal of the wars we are commonly fighting is much greater than simply winning.

In places like Afghanistan and Iraq, there is potential to do more than take down Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or any associated forces.

These terrorist forces should be a main focus of any war where they are the concern, but ensuring they do not regroup, or that others similar to them do not arise, is equally important in war efforts against terrorism.

A striking fact about terrorism is that it is easier for terrorist groups to form and prosper in impoverished or developing nations. Dissolving Al-Qaeda, the Taliban or ISIS are vital steps in eradicating terrorism; however, leaving the struggling nations to fend for themselves afterwards only opens up the possibility for new, more dangerous groups that could form in the wake of destruction and transformation.

Dr. Joseph Gerson, the Director of Programs of the American Friends Service Committee, recognized that to make true change with terrorism, “we must address the root causes of the attacks.”

By working to improve situations in troubled areas, problems such as terrorism can be eliminated at their roots.

From the outside, the entire nation that terrorist groups originate from are often criminalized and grouped into the same category as terrorist. This, of course, is not the case for citizens of those nations.

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan proved that when they urged for the “Taliban [to] be overthrown by the uprising of the Afghan nation” rather than by “a vast aggression on our country [that] will shed the blood of numerous women, men, children, young and old of our country.”

Working from the inside out is precisely what RAWA was calling for, because of their understanding that permanent change cannot be accomplished until interior progression is made.

This is not to say that troops should remain in previous war zone areas past the amount of time that is needed, or that no war efforts should be made at all. Rather, once the initial needs of war are accomplished, such as eradicating the current terrorist threats, troops should continue to aid the rebuilding of the nation so that it can become strong and dominant against any future terrorist threats.

According to The Guardian, “with more displaced people than at any time since the second world war,” helping those people and their nations that are weaker and more prone to threats is the most promising answer to achieving lasting results.

We must fight in order to protect ourselves and those around us, but ensuring that the world continues to be safe after the initial threat is gone is equally important.

“Politicians are taking the easy option of failing to understand the wider world” that is at stake if impoverished individuals and nations do not receive the aid needed.

When it is decided to step in and take action in the form of war, winning is not the only goal that should be on our minds. Improving the livelihood of those in impoverished communities and nations so that threats and issues do not reappear should also be a goal.

– Katherine Wyant

Sources: Common Dreams, The Guardian, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan
Photo: Flickr