Archive for August 7th, 2009

I believe that true freedom is paid for with blood and sacrifice…  [Although I am a veteran, I have not – ever – served in an active war or combat zone.]
Given: The war in Iraq was a mistake from the start.
President Bush decided he wanted to take out Saddam Hussein and his government and so Bush used misinformation (unlawfully in my opinion), the post-9/11 public fear of terrorists, and our military to do this.  The “war” in Afghanistan, however, was not a “mistake” to start off.
Having said the above, I believe the continuing “war” in Afghanistan is a major political and economic mistake for the United States – now – and we need to set a timetable for immediate withdrawal of all troops.
Of course, we will have to reprise the Nixon/Kissinger “Peace with Honor” two step to dance our way out with our usual embarrassing lack of grace, but the truth is we’ve done all we can there and the time is long past when we should leave.
The U.S. is not very good at nation-building.  Just look within our own borders.  We’ve been working on our own country for over 200 years.  We only ended segregation 50 years ago and we still can’t pass an equal rights for women amendment.  What hope do we seriously have in changing a mostly primitive (by our Western standards), but ancient tribal culture into something approximating our own.
I would argue very little…
This is not meant to imply we should not have gone to Afghanistan in the first place, after all, it was the base for Al Qaeda to train “terrorists”.  So, after 9/11, we were fully justified in going in and disrupting the then-ruling Taliban government and hunting down and destroying Al Queda.   We did the first and failed to do the second (so far).
It was obvious after the Tora Bora fiasco (Dec 2001), we lacked the will and political skill to finish off Al Queda, so the time to leave was then – not all these many years, and lives later.
…And we’re still counting (both years and lives).
There simply is no political solution to Afghanistan.  We can bleed our own military forces and economy for years to come and there will never be a political solution.  There is only one answer:  when some one hurts you and you hurt them back, it serves very little good to try to “rehabilitate” them to be like you so they won’t hurt you again.  You hurt them (the political elite, not the average citizen);  you make it clear that if they try it again, you’ll be back and it’ll be worse for them next time;  and then you walk away.
What we need to do is finish getting out of Iraq while setting a short-term timetable for getting out of Afghanistan – and then do it.  Just leave!!!
We can still promise economic and humanitarian aid to either (or both), but we need to get our precious sons and daughters out of harm’s way.  Then we need to rebuild our forces based on the lessons learned from these two wasteful efforts – mainly, we need BOTH a main fighting force (that was so successful against Iraq – twice) AND a flexible fighting force capable of winning a future “quick punch in the nose”, fight and leave war (like Afghanistan should have been).
Rebuilding the military will not be inexpensive and we should not fool ourselves into believing we are going to get a “peace-time bonus/dividend”.  Rebuilding will be VERY costly.  But the alternative is to not be ready when the “bad-guys” out there misread our departure as failure of will instead of as basic American practicality and our love for the blood and lives of our sons and daughters.

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