It is 0300 hrs (3 am civilian time) and I have been staring into the void of American foreign policy. And the worst case scenario is the situation in Afghanistan. Why is this taking so long?
Good question that few have an answer for when asked.
Then I found one that tries to justify this war…..
When I first learned about the Thirty Years War in a history class in college, I was both fascinated and amazed. How in the world could a war go on for 30 years? That just seemed incomprehensible to me.
Not anymore. The U.S. war on Afghanistan has now been going on for 17 years. And if the American people follow the advice of Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, it’s a virtual certainty that the United States will easily surpass the Thirty Years War and, maybe, the Hundred Years War, which needless to say, also amazed and fascinated me when I learned about its existence.
I can just see Americans 83 years from now breaking the 100-year-war record and exclaiming in celebration, “We’re Number One! We’re Number One! KAG! KAG! Keep America Great!”
Most of us questioners see the Afghanistan situation as just another Vietnam……
Senator George Aiken is famously misquoted as recommending that the United States “declare victory and get out” as a way of ending the war in Vietnam. In practice, the United States did something very different. It bombed North Vietnam into agreeing to a peace settlement, claimed that a rushed “Vietnamization” campaign gave South Vietnam a government and military forces capable of securing the country, and then pulled United States forces out of South Vietnam.
Any summary of what happened next has to be grossly oversimplified, but even a brief summary still sounds important warnings about the current United States policies in Afghanistan. The U.S left South Vietnam with a hollow, unstable and corrupt “democratic” government in charge. It left a country with serious economic problems the moment United States military spending and high aid levels were cut, and it left a country torn apart by deep divisions between its ruling class and its Buddhist clergy.
A case could be made that the US had a right to retaliate against AQ in Afghanistan…….but why not use the most effective tactic….Bomb…..Declare a win…..Go Home?
Now the saddest part of this 17 year war is that for the most part the American public has all but forgotten this “war”…….
Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-con wild boys who came to power with George W. Bush in 2001 all shared a vision. In their minds, they saw a cowed, conquered Iraq as the stepping stone to a wider conflict that would, in the righteous fullness of Republican time, lead to broad regional transformation and the enforced peace of empire, all of it lubricated by “liberated” Middle Eastern petroleum.
Using Iraq as a jump-off point, they would knock off regime after regime, running up the stars and stripes as they went, and then watch as peace and prosperity unfolded like a desert blossom. That cauldron of seemingly endless conflict would soon become a happy democratic paradise filled to bursting with McDonald’s customers tying the laces of their new Nike sneakers with fingers stained purple from voting. All the wild boys needed was a catalyst, a “new Pearl Harbor,” to get the ball rolling. When the Towers came down, they took their shot, and we were off to the races.
War does not make sense any longer…..with that statement I do agree…..
America spends more on its military than all its enemies put together yet it still can’t win wars. Failed adventures in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have drained America’s power and diminished its prestige. The bloated Pentagon budget actually makes us weaker.
Here’s the weird bit: nobody seems to care. If any other government department spent as much and accomplished as little, the populace would be in arms, complaining about wasteful government spending. Instead we mumble “Thank you for your service” and increase defense appropriations.
Congress needs to step up and do what is required….end this “war” and bring our troops home for the rest they richly deserve.
For those interested…..further reading……