Friday, September 25, 2009

Understanding Afghanistan

The title is an oxymoron, since I certainly don’t understand Afghanistan, and I see no signs that anyone in our government or in the media understands it any better than I do. Obama was right to send 21,000 additional troops over there when he did it, but it would be wrong now because “things have changed so much since then.” Well what precisely has changed?

There is a corrupt government and a stolen election. Oh, really? What do we know about Karzai now that we didn’t know two years ago? The man shanghais and pockets reconstruction money and does deals with drug lords, why is anyone surprised that he would steal an election? In that environment, it would be surprising if the election didn’t get stolen and, in fact, it was largely predicted well in advance that it would be.

The fighting has gotten more intense. Well of course it has; we sent in 21,000 more fighters. What did anyone think all those additional soldiers were going to do, sit around and play patty cake? Did anyone really think that the Taliban would respond to a major influx of additional invaders with flowers and candy? Well, Rumsfeld might have, but...

So the Taliban says that if we’re going to push South in a major offensive then they will go attack our garrison forces in the North. That’s pretty much what the American insurgents did to the British in the late 1700’s, and we all know how that turned out. I’m pretty sure that the British generals were writing letters to King George begging for more troops, too, and probably even threatening that if they didn’t get more troops then these American primitive rude savages were going to kick British ass. They undoubtedly had a pejorative name for us equivalent to “ragheads.”

As for why we’re there… That seems to change with every press conference, and sometimes there are up to half a dozen reasons, which is eerily familiar. I learned when taking care of kids that when someone gives you several reasons for something they are pretty much always lying.

We’re supposedly after the people who planned 9/11, but we actually chased them into Pakistan some eight years ago. So now we’re fighting in Afghanistan so we can try to kill Al Queda in Pakistan with pilotless drones. Since those drones are launched from bases in Pakistan and flown by pilots in Arizona, why do we need the troops in Afghanistan?

We also have to keep the Taliban from overwhelming Pakistan and getting control of their nuclear weapons. Pakistan has the world’s fifth largest army and has fought India to a standstill three times, but we fear it can’t handle a few thousand guys with rifles and RPG’s so we need to fight in a different country to prevent…

For years, Pakistan ignores the Taliban because it doesn’t consider them a threat. Am I the only one who considers it a bit odd that we are afraid of the Taliban, while the nation which actually has Taliban within its borders is not? Anyway, finally the Taliban pisses Pakistan off and so its army swats (pardon the pun) the Taliban down in two weeks, which has no apparent effect on our need to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan to prevent the recently-defeated Taliban in Pakistan from overwhelming Pakistan’s army and getting control of its nuclear weapons.

We need to provide Afghanistan with a workable and functioning central government. Please note that the people most ardent in advocating our presence in Afghanistan do not want a functioning central government in this nation. They have vowed to “drown it in a bathtub” and are fulminating about the current “socialist takeover,” so why are they so hell-bent on installing such a central government anywhere else?

Finally, in a veritable frenzy of panic, we need to occupy Afghanistan to prevent it being used to “plan attacks on our homeland.” This is absurd on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. For one thing, I fail to see how our occupation accomplishes that goal; the very concept is nonsensical. Even if it did, we would then have to occupy by force every nation that did not have a strong central government; Somalia, Yemen and Indonesia leap to mind, but there are hundreds of places that could be used as sanctuaries and we simply cannot occupy all of them.

But on a more fundamental level, the idea that we can forestall planning by military force is simply insane. If that is the plan, then we need to declare martial law in this nation, because recently featured in the news is that no fewer than three such plots have been planned right here in this country.

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