Advancing a Free Society

Bad or Worse in Afghanistan?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The latest mass killing by an American soldier follows a three-year downward spiral: the burned desecrated Korans, the murdering of Americans by Afghan “allies,” the surge followed immediately by loudly announced withdrawal dates, four different senior commanders in three years, a musical-chairs rotation likewise on the diplomatic side, and a president clearly uncomfortable that his prior promises as a candidate to fight unflinchingly in Afghanistan were strait-jacketing his presidential impatience at leaving.

After ten years, we have forgotten why we went into Afghanistan in the first place: a) to deny Islamic radicals similar bases from which to attack the U.S. in 9/11 style, who had been hosted by the terrorist-friendly Taliban “government”; b) to stay on and establish a consensual government to avoid resurgence of the Taliban-friendly radicals, in a de facto admission that our aid to Afghan Islamic radicals in the 1980s to defeat the Russians had been followed by a thought-to-be unwise departure after the Soviet defeat, ceding, in blowback style, the country to the Taliban; and c) at some point after our defeat of the Taliban and the establishment of the Karzai government, a third rationale emerged that we were now supporting “democracy” to ensure an end to the humanitarian abuses under the Taliban.

By 2005 the war and its aftermath were felt to be a general success in that two of our three goals were largely met; indeed, in those days, in contrast to the present, observers looked at the escalating violence in Iraq and wondered “where was the Iraqi Karzai?,” who was feted as a near-hero as American casualties were remarkably low and the Taliban stayed in disarray. There was never a real anti-war movement against Afghanistan.

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