Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger (Ret.) has written a new book entitled "Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars."
According to NPR, Bolger begins his book with:
I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism. It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. So do my peers. And thanks to our problem, now all of America has a problem, to wit: two lost campaigns and a war gone awry.
During a recent interview with Democracy Now, Bolger said that "arrogance" helped lose both wars, which he believes should be the focus of a public inquiry as the Korean War was (video below).
"Is it appropriate to send thousands of young American men and women into foreign countries to go house to house and try to sort out who’s a terrorist, who’s a villager?" asked Bolger.
"That’s something we tried in Southeast Asia, and it didn’t work," added Bolger. "And yet we repeated it once in Afghanistan and then again in Iraq. And that’s very disturbing, and I think that led directly to our failure in both campaigns."
"[W]e missed the fundamental strategic error of that thought, and it’s an error based in arrogance, hubris, whatever word you want to use," said Bolger.
"[W]hen a country is having a problem with rebels or with insurgents, the solution must lie with the local people," stated Bolger. "The solution will be partially political in nature. There may be a violent component to it. There may be deals cut. But it’s not something that hundreds of thousands of American or Western troops can solve, no matter how well they’re trained at military skills. So I think we missed a fundamental strategic point there."
CNN reported that President Obama recently ordered 1,500 U.S. soldiers into Iraq to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces to fight ISIS, but Bolger said that training an army takes decades, not years, which is why that tactic failed so miserably under the Bush administration.
Bolger also noted that the "primary victims so far of the war on terrorism in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaign have been the Iraqis and the Afghans. We’ve caused some of that. We didn’t mean to. I can tell you, we tried very hard to prevent civilian casualties, but when you use modern weapons, you can’t always be that careful, and especially when you’re trying to pick out an enemy who’s wearing civilian clothes."