It’s hard for me to be certain of any opinion on our presence in Afghanistan when I get so much conflicting statements on why we are there. There is much vague talk about “national security” and defeating the “enemies of freedom,” all of which is war drum demagoguery, and all of which I ignore. The actual reason is as variable as the reasons we went into Iraq, and that fills me with dread and suspicion.
There is the “magic bullet” about the government knowing things that I don’t know. If it doesn’t tell me those things, then it cannot blame me for being unsupportive of the wars it chooses to fight. It is not incumbent upon me to support the government just because it says so; this is a free country, and it is the government’s place to convince me that it is doing what I want it to do. So why are we entering a ninth year of war in Afghanistan?
Who is the enemy? To me that answer has to be any group who has attacked us or who has made pronouncements of intent to attack us. The only organization the fits that description is Al Qaeda. Although often called “the enemy,” the Taliban does not fit the description. They have never expressed the slightest desire to attack the United States, and the only reason they are fighting us now is to drive an invader out of their country. If that is incorrect, then the government needs to make that case and provide evidence.
President Obama said that Bush “took his eye off the ball” by invading Iraq, but at this point we don’t seem to know where the ball is. Who is the enemy?
Why are we fighting to defeat the Taliban? The Taliban is not our problem. They engage in a harsh form of justice and treat women badly. That is Afghanistan’s problem, not our problem. Saudi Arabia engages in a harsh form of justice and treats women badly and their king eats dinner in our White House. It is not our place to determine the form of law and social justice used by other nations.
We must make sure that Al Qaeda “never returns to Afghanistan.” Someone needs to convince me that they even want to; I’ve never read anything that says they regard Afghanistan as the place they want to be. Is there some sort of magic that allows them to plan attacks in Afghanistan that they cannot plan anywhere else?
I will support any effort to destroy Al Qaeda. Occupying Afghanistan for an undefined length of time and defeating the Taliban after admitting that Al Qaeda is not located there does not fit that bill. Spending American blood and treasure to “deny victory to terrorists,” on some vague ill-defined “national security” basis, or to deny territory to Al Qaeda in a non-territorial war against them is unacceptable.
Obama promised an “eye on the ball.” When is he going to do that?