As we approach the nine year anniversary of our involvement in Afghanistan it may be time to reassess our commitment to nation building there. Immediately after 9/11 I believe almost all Americans were in agreement that we needed to be in Afghanistan. As late as the 2008 presidential campaign even the far left led by then Candidate Obama was saying things like, “Only a comprehensive strategy that prioritizes Afghanistan and the fight against al Qaeda will succeed, and that’s the change I’ll bring to the White House.”
Any person who is at all informed about this conflict is aware of the history of other conflicts here. The British and the Russians could not accomplish what we are attempting: to unite a tribal and corrupt land into a cohesive and functional government. The British tried to rule by colonial imperialism and the Russian by installing a puppet regime. Both failed. Since the time of the Spice Routes and Gengus Khan the Afghan people have had some seemingly inbred resistance to anything more organized than tribal anarchy.
Now we are nine years, many hundred billions of dollars and most importantly several thousand American lives into trying to establish a new democracy in a region that hasn’t quite gotten the hang of the 19th let alone the 21st century. As much as I hate to admit anyone on the left is correct about anything, liberals may be right when they call the War in Afghanistan the new Viet Nam, but not for the reasons they give.
Since sometime in the middle of President Bush’s second term the war in Afghanistan started to resemble Viet Nam a political farce and an exercise in futility. I date it to the day when four Americans bodies were hung on a bridge and our response was to do nothing. When The State Department becomes more important in the running of an armed conflict than The Pentagon the effort has gone seriously awry. Handcuffed by rules of engagement that are more at home on a school playground than in a war against terrorist and a dithering new administration which takes six months to decide to send General McChrystal half a surge our brave men and women are now rising their lives for political correctness. On top of that put the arbitrary withdrawal date President Obama has announced and we have the cherry on top of a sundae of stupidity we have concocted. Is it any wonder that the general washed his hands of the entire mess?
I may not understand the military and war since I never served but I always thought that you should go in and pound your enemy into the dirt until it wasn’t possible to hit them anymore and then smack them just once or twice more for good measure. Since Jimmy Carter dithered during the Iran Hostage Crisis radicals in the Middle East have viewed us as weak. Unfortunately Ronald Reagan didn’t give them enough reason to change their minds. President Bush Sr.’s liberation of Kuwait and refusal to entirely crush Saddam Hussein then were further signals that we were hesitant to be serious. Clinton’s occasional bombing of an aspirin factory or deserted training camp also did little to show terrorist that we had the stomach for serious battle. It is reported that Saddam did so much serious saber rattling because he didn’t believe Bush the Younger would do much more than Clinton had.
This is the point that the Left misses about both Afghanistan and Viet Nam. It’s not that these were unjust wars or unwinnable quagmires but that our politically led, half hearted effort doomed our military. With the new Obama withdrawal announced the Taliban and Al-Qaeda can now simply wait until next July and then get back to the business of plotting their attacks against America just as the Nixon announced withdrawal from Viet Nam let Uncle Ho know exactly which day to start celebrating.
My question is why are we waiting until July? What is it that President Obama thinks is going to happen between now and then that might change the history of over 1000 years of conflicts in Afghanistan. To waste one more American life in this dance of political posturing is a far greater war crime than any the Left ever imagined were committed by the hated Bush/Cheney/Halliburton troika. Remember Obama’s pledge during the campaign to continue and win the war in Afghanistan and to go into Pakistan and hunt down and kill Bin Laden? How’s that working out for us?