Tuesday, October 07, 2008

An anniversary: remember Afghanistan?

Opium poppies flourish near Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Peace doesn't do so well. (Omar Sayami photo)

Seven years ago, the United States launched its attack on Afghanistan in response to the attacks of 9/11. The United States is still at war in Afghanistan, though often it is not very clear who the troops are fighting.

Michael T. McPhearson is Executive Director of Veterans For Peace and Co-Chair of United For Peace and Justice. He was a field artillery officer in the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, also known as Gulf War I. Today he shared his thoughts on the Afghan war. (That's the war Senator Obama wants to expand.)

I was in New York City on September 11, 2001. I was horrified, angered and confused by the brutality and audacity of the attack. I knew there would be a military response. So I knelt and prayed that our nation's reaction would be thoughtful and provide leadership to the world through what promised to be the beginning of a dark time. ...

The hope was eclipsed. My government chose to use war as the primary policy direction. As I said, I expected military action. However, to what end? The current policy appears to be, engage the enemy until there is no longer opposition, or in a word “war.” War is not a sufficient policy to address the causes of the attack and will not bring peace. It will only bring more war. There is not a government to defeat or leader to topple. The faces of the opposition change and remain nameless with occasional exceptions like bin Laden. But without a doubt, even if bin Laden were captured today the occupiers and resisters would continue to fight.

Caught in the crossfire of U.S. waging war against a near endless supply of nameless and faceless opponents are civilians who wish to live their lives without fear. Civilians who if choosing between living in fear of U.S. air strikes and home invasions which to them seem to have no rhyme or reason, or in fear of the medieval thinking and actions of the Taliban, will pick the fear with a face they recognize and actions they can anticipate.

Meanwhile, the U.K.'s senior general in Afghanistan says that Western forces can't win against the Afghan insurgency.

An absolute military victory in Afghanistan is impossible, Brig.-Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith told England's Sunday Times newspaper.

What foreign forces must now come to grips with, he said, is reducing the level of insurgency so that it can be managed by Afghan forces and no longer poses a major threat. ...

As such, striking a deal with the Taliban could be considered as a strategic option, Carleton-Smith said. It is an idea that has been repeatedly — and recently — advanced by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

October 4, 2008

The Canadians are naturally interested; they've lost a lot of soldiers over there. So has the United States -- more than in Iraq in recent months.

What was this war about anyway?

Once again, I cannot recommend strongly enough Ahmed Rashid's Descent into Chaos for a overview of the region and its wars.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

It is all so depressing. I wonder if mankind will ever live in peace. They say there is always a war going on in the world somewhere. Man's inhumanity to man.

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