Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Afghanistan Confusion

Immediately after it was apparent that Iraq had no “weapons of mass destruction” we began to hear an astonishing variety of reasons why we had invaded that nation. There were too many to list here, but fear of the “mushroom cloud” was conspicuously absent from that list.

What are we doing in Afghanistan? Well, what day of the week is it?

Sometimes we are freeing that country from the evil grip of the Taliban. Why we are doing that is unclear, since the Taliban have never done any bad deeds against us, never threatened to do so, and have no interest in us.

About the time that point becomes bruited about in too common a fashion for comfort, we suddenly are not concerned about the Taliban, but are in Afghanistan to eject and/or capture and/or kill al Queda. Then someone points out the there is no more than a handful of them in Afghanistan, and that Bin Laden is in Pakistan, a nation which we really cannot invade.

So then we are in Afghanistan to “deny al Queda a space in which to plan attacks” on us, as if they were not capable of doing that in Pakistan. Since attacks actually are being planned on us it seems they are doing it in Pakistan even while we are committing all this war activity in Afghanistan where they aren’t doing any such planning.

Now we are back to “driving the Taliban out” of Afghanistan, so it must be Wednesday again.

Some 15,000 of our troops and God knows how many British and Afghan troops have been on a massive push to drive the Taliban out in the south. So far reports indicate they have killed 27 insurgents and 30 civilians. Presumably the former were deliberate, and the military claims the latter were a series of accidents, which I don’t dispute.

The plan is that we are going to “hold” this area and “win the hearts and minds” of the locals to make them loyal to the Karzai government; doing so by first coming in with guns blazing and killing 30 of them, following that by filling their streets with American tanks and armed soldiers.

That does not strike me as particularly clear thinking and, unsurprisingly, it does not seem to be working. The locals are unwilling to be seen talking to Americans because they believe the Taliban will be back, and will punish them for “cooperating with the American invaders,” which actually does strike me as fairly clear thinking.

What I do know, and this is blindingly obvious if you think about it, is that if someone is giving you multiple and varying descriptions of what they are doing and reasons why they are doing it, either they don’t know what they are doing and/or why they are doing it, or they are doing something they don't want you to know about for reasons that they don't want you to hear.

So, what are we doing in Afghanistan, and why are we there?

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