Is the war in Iraq more harmful to the environment than the war in Afghanistan?



  1. 0 Votes

    This is a good question, and providing a clear answer is very difficult. I think you have to take into effect the totality of operations conducted and judge the total costs of each, as opposed to focusing on actual physical damage to the environment from battles or other disturbances. As we all know, wars are extremely expensive and difficult to support logistically. American forces particularly consume resources at a staggering rate–if the U.S. Department of Defense was its own country, it would rank 34th in the world in daily average fuel consumption. The Iraq war that began in 2003 has involved a larger number of troops who have generally been engaged in a wider area, with their primary mission now the occupation and pacification of Iraq against insurgent forces until such time as the Iraqi government can provide its own security. That mission means a lot of boots on the ground, large expensive bases that consume fossil fuels and energy, and tons of supplies coming in every day by air and sea. The war in Afghanistan is slightly different, where it is more in the nature of a campaign of “seek and destroy” missions against nests of terrorists as opposed to a full-blown military occupation, and consequently the Afghanistan war has seen smaller numbers of troops engaged (although President Obama appears to be in the process of changing this). However, Afghanistan is a much harder country in which to supply an army than Iraq is, being land-locked, mountainous and with very difficult logistics. Supplies must be flown or trucked in. In both places the general environmental issues with war remain: lingering effects of bombs and explosives, depleted uranium ammunition, direct damage to the environment from war operations. Just a guess, I would say overall the Iraq war probably has a bigger environmental footprint, since it’s a much larger-scale war than Afghanistan, but it’s difficult to point to specific studies that demonstrate this.

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