Since World War II, the United States has seemingly adopted a foreign policy of trying to stop Communism and bring Democracy to other countries. However, in most cases, our political and military efforts have not produced the results we had expected. In Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, we have been involved in wars that cost trillions and left our political position weaker than it was before the wars. The question is: does the U.S. get involved in wars for the wrong reasons.
In 2001, a group of Saudi Arabians attacked the United States. Because many of these Saudi’s hid out in Afghanistan, we attacked Afghanistan, rather than focusing on just the Saudi’s. 19 years and $3 trillion later, we left Afghanistan. The Taliban took over and the region was destabilized.
In 1964, we falsely claimed some of our navy ships were attacked by the North Vietnamese. We sided with the unpopular government of South Vietnam and joined what was previously a civil war, largely because we were worried about China and Communism. 11 years, $1 trillion, and 80,000 deaths later, we left Vietnam, leaving the North Vietnamese in control.
In 2003, we attacked Saddam Hussein because he had “weapons of mass destruction,” which he did not have. We left Iraq in 2011after spending $1.1 trillion, with the country weaker and our enemy Iran stronger than when we entered.
In 1983, we invaded Grenada with the pretext of protecting some medical students, although the real reason was because we were concerned the government was Communist. Was Grenada more of a threat to the U.S. than some of the broken countries of the Caribbean and Central America?
In 1960, during the Nixon-Kennedy debate, Nixon said the U.S. should defend islands controlled by Taiwan called Quemoy & Matsu. Quemoy sits at the entrance to the harbor of a Chinese metro area of about 15 million people and 100 miles from Taiwan. Would defending these islands likely have led to a full-fledged war with China?
Please join us for this program, when we will discuss how the U.S. got into these wars, whether these were the correct decisions, and how we can make better decisions in the future.
This is a private, alumni-only, off-the-record discussion. The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and participants and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of The Harvard Business School Club.
Participants must register by NOON on October 18th to receive details on joining the discussion. The Zoom link will be sent out 24 hours before the event.
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