I have been hearing this claim that there are only ten to one hundred Al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan (and how do you know if someone is an Al Qaeda member?). On the other hand, the Taliban is still in full operation. I’m kind of confused as to whom we are fighting. It seems to me there is not much difference between the home-grown insurgents known as the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a kind of universal Islamic terrorist organization — they both work together. And I’m further puzzled that the U.S. thinks it should work with some factions of the Taliban and even pays them off. This while we have moved past the 1,000 combat death statistic.
To add insult to injury (or death), I hear much of our armament has fallen into the hands of our enemies and much of the money we spend so freely over there funds our enemies.
And I heard an Afghan (not a sweater, a person) on NPR say that the U.S. forces are not patrolling as much as they had, that they are staying more inside their compounds, because of increased attacks on them and that the Afghan people try to avoid being around them because they face reprisal from the Taliban (although I also heard a report there has been some pushback by the people against the Taliban). All this despite the fact we have moved thousands more troops into the country.
(And I don’t mean to imply that our forces are in hiding — I know that is not true.)
Somehow I think this counter-insurgency/nation building/get-to-know the folks strategy is not working so well.
I continue to think we need to do one of two things: A. Declare victory and go home or B. Get serious and go to all-out war.
Given the fact that we are in such dire economic straits at home and the fact that victory has eluded powers through the ages in Afghanistan, I think option A would be the best option.
But America hates to leave a war once started (although it can — Vietnam). So if we were to go to option B we would have to introduce even more troops and firepower and completely take over the nation — to include kicking out the current corrupt government and its corrupt leader with the funny hat and cape.
We’d have to install a provisional military government that would include Afghans, but would be completely under our control.
We’d have to rout out the insurgents while simultaneously doing things to help make life better for Afghans who would agree to live under the new order (yes, a concession to my own dislike of the nation-building concept).
And we would have to be somewhat less concerned about collateral damage or civilian casualties, if you will.
Sounds kind of harsh and mean, but while our stated aims in Afghanistan have changed from time to time or have at least seemed nebulous, basically we went in there to go after Osama Bin Laden ,who masterminded 9/11, and those in Afghanistan who were aiding and abetting him.
Cultural barriers aside, maybe the Afghan people should be made to realize that they are either on our side or not. They can either continue to support the Taliban who helped Al Qaeda and its leader Bin Laden or help us rout out the insurgents who don’t just want to control Afghanistan but who want to attack western democracy.
But going to all-out war there would take our full military concentration and likely a lot more sacrifice from the American people, perhaps even a resumption of the military draft.
We have invested a lot already. And the Chinese, who have invested nothing in the way of human life, are already trying to secure mineral rights there. You will recall it was recently revealed to the public at large that Afghanistan has vast mineral resources.
Afghanistan’s own mineral resources, its geography that makes it a good oil pipeline route, and its nearness to some of the world’s largest oil reserves all are valid reasons for us not wanting to let go of it (and in the traditions of the spoils of war we should certainly claim what is due us).
So on the one hand we could take the big leap and face much more sacrifice but protect what we have invested so far and possibly secure valuable resources (and keep them from our foes) and deny safe haven to our enemies and and on the other hand we could wisely cut our losses and save ourselves from more misery and eventual failure and possible bankruptcy from the cost of war.
A hard choice, but either one would seem wiser than the current stalemate where we continue to lose blood and treasure after nearly a decade of effort (half hearted as it was at times under George W) in a continuing war of attrition that will likely one day fizzle out with nothing gained and so much lost.
And as far as the probably only mythical next July deadline for U.S. withdrawal, what kind of a military strategist would proclaim the date he would quit the war so all the enemy has to do is bide his time until the date comes and goes to win by default?