First, the relative quiet produced by the surge permits the United States to withdraw its forces far more safely than if the country were in flames; if this opportunity is seized, the surge will have made an important contribution" (Zelleke & Dujarric 2008). The United States has ultimately striven to bring regional stability to Iraq and to Afghanistan, not to establish a permanent presence, and such stability is to be welcomed by all, particularly those who live in these nations who desire peace.
The means of a just war must be limited by proportionality to the offense.
The offense is a potentially future attack, "one we have good reason to believe is coming, then we can prevent it with what it takes to prevent it in proportion to how reasonably we can expect it and what means would be involved in such a potential attack" (Pierce 2005). Given the extent of the offense in 2001, the United States' response seems moderate -- had Iraq been attacked in a similar fashion, how would Saddam have responded, given his treatment of innocent Kurds and innocent civilians who opposed his own rule?
There should be no intentional and direct attack on noncombatants.
Firstly in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States never knowingly, deliberately targeted non-combatants. And while war always has unfortunate causalities, and yes "an invasion means that innocent civilians will die, without doubt," that is by itself not an argument (Pierce 2005). The question is always: what is the alternative: civilians were dying of hunger and disease and in Saddam's jails and suffering "life-long debilitating disfigurement, rape, humiliation, and simple day-to-day" misery and fear (Sjostrom 2009). Although regrettable incidents are inevitable in every war, including losses due to friendly fire, the amount of unproductive death, destruction, and oppression waged by Saddam is not comparable to the unfortunate effects of an invasion, brought upon by his own actions.
War should not be prolonged when there is no reasonable hope of success within these limits.
Even the most vociferous critics of both wars concede that there have been notable successes. Human rights have improved in Iraq -- the minority ethnic group of the Kurds no longer lives in fear of their lives. While Osama Bin Laden remains at large, prominent terrorists from his group have been apprehended and brought to justice, and there have been no comparable attacks upon U.S. soil since 2001. Moreover, invading Iraq has been a way to "break out of the impasse of the dual containment of Iraq and Iran pursued by the Clinton administration. By establishing a pro-American government in Baghdad, the United States would gain leverage against Tehran" (Zelleke & Dujarric 2008).
Today, the United States must proceed undaunted, and will, especially in Afghanistan where regional instability requires that the United States' efforts be redoubled. In fact, not only can few "doubt that Afghanistan was a just war," as "Al Qaeda had the run of the country under the hyper-religious Taliban, but "from what we know from hastily abandoned Al Qaeda documents and computers," evidence suggests that before the United States invaded, "Afghanistan had become even more of a dangerous haven for international terrorism than we had thought" (Greenway 2005).
The even better news about Afghanistan today is that not only do the American public continue to support this war, because of the searing memory of 9/11, war in Afghanistan continues to enjoy wide international support. Given the poor conditions for the average individual in Afghanistan, the effects, sad to say, of war, may even improve circumstances there: "according to a United Nations report, Afghan living standards are the sixth worst in the world, ahead of only five basket cases in sub-Saharan Africa. Almost every statistic is bad. Average life expectancy is 44.5 years compared with 60.8 in neighboring Pakistan and 70.1 in Iran. Gross domestic product per capita is $190 compared with $408 in Pakistan and $1,652 in Iran. Infant mortality is also higher than the toll in any of Afghanistan's neighbors, and the literacy rate is only 28.7%. One in four Afghans is unemployed. Corruption is rife. Discredited warlords remain in control of vast regions. The government's writ runs very thin outside of the capital, and a low-level insurgency grinds on. Perhaps most serious of all for Afghanistan's long-term prospects, the country is now the world's largest producer of opium" (Greenway 2005).
With improvements in living standards Afghanis have and will continue to welcome United States support. With improvements in living standards and human rights, Iraqis will likewise, as the U.S. strives to create a functional government that is friendly to ethnic minorities, Iraq's neighbors, and to the international community as well as the United States. In Afghanistan, "slowly the warlords are being co-opted by the central government and relinquishing power. Likewise, amnesty for Taliban fighters, if not for top leaders, is showing promise" (Greenway 2005). Going to war is never pleasant, and while the sacrifices Americans have had to make the world a more stable place in Afghanistan and Iraq may have been bitter, they were also, and continue to be necessary -- although these areas of the world may not be perfect, how much more imperfect they would be, had action never been taken.
Greenway, HDS. (2005, March 31). Afghanistan, the poor stepsister to Iraq. The Boston Globe.
Retrieved April 12, 2009 at http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/03/25/afghanistan_the_poor_stepsister_to_iraq/
Pierce, Jeremy. (2005). Just war theory and Iraq. Parablemania. Retrieved April 12, 2009 at http://parablemania.ektopos.com/archives/2005/12/just_war_theory_1.html
Principles of just war. (2009). Mt. Holyoke. Retrieved April 12, 2009 at http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/pol116/justwar.htm
Sjostrom, William. (2009). Ten reasons why America should invade Iraq
Atlantic Monthly. Blog archive. Retrieved April 12, 2009 at http://www.atlanticblog.com/archives/iraq.pdf
Zelleke, Andy & Robert Dujarric. (2008, July 31). The success of the surge. The Boston Globe.
Retrieved April 12, 2009 at http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/07/31/the_success_of_that_surge/