Saturday, November 21, 2009

Afghanistan, why are we there?

We’re at a critical decision point regarding our continued presence in Afghanistan. Other than trying to make it up to the Afghan people for abandoning them after the Russians pulled out in 1989 or 90, I see no reason to stay. It’s basically a civil war situation and the most powerful force (the Taliban), which we don’t like, will most likely prevail if we leave.

We use whatever temporary logic prevails to justify doing whatever we want to do. In this instance, the military can’t accept “losing” by leaving and letting the internal interests in Afghanistan fight it out for control of the country. The political cover for this is to proclaim we can’t leave Afghanistan as a base the jihadists can use for training for another attack on America.

But, look at the record. We’ve been there for at least 8 years and the Afghan government hasn’t been able to field a credible army of its own. How many years do we have to wait before we can decide they’ll either make it on their own or they won’t?

Our prime political rational for staying is also that we can’t give al Queda a base in which it can train fighters for another 9/11 type operation. This is whooey. According to most published reports, al Queda has moved most of its operations to Pakistan anyway.

Did the 9/11 hijackers actually train in Afghanistan? Was that the best place to offer such specialized training? Was this the only country that would have permitted it? Will the next attack (if it ever comes) require training somewhere similar to Afghanistan in 2001?

I can see the need to save pride as a nation keeping us from pulling out. But, unfortunately, I see a much more direct reason for staying in that many providers of services and products are making a lot of money from the continuation of this operation. Cynical, you bet! Other than national pride and the reputation of major political figures, I only see the continued spending of vast sums on this operation as benefiting some in the private sector financially.

How much of a tax increase would YOU be willing to pay to continue this so called war? Perhaps that question should have been the lead sentence of this piece.

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