Thursday, October 06, 2011

Afghanistan war, 10 years on

The U.S. exercise in futility in Afghanistan will be 10 years old tomorrow. Nobody knows why U.S. soldiers, Afghan soldiers and Afghan civilians are dying, but this imperial folly grinds on.

And just about everyone understands, in one way or another, that this is madness.
  • Terry Gross of NPR recently interviewed Mark Mazzetti, a New York Times journalist who shared a Pulitzer in 2009 for reporting from the war. Neither of them seems to be a strong critic of U.S. power projection. That only makes this exchange more poignant.

    GROSS: Is there anybody among your sources in the Pentagon or sources in the State Department or the White House who truly believe that if we stayed longer in Afghanistan that we could turn around the state and really make it, you know, a safer, more democratic place that would really function as a state?

    MAZZETTI: No one I talked to believes some of the things that people believed 10 years ago when they were wondering what was possible, a very Democratic state, as you said, a state modeled after a Western democracy. No one thinks that's really possible. ... I think there's also resignation to some degree over exactly how Pakistan operates. You know, you would hear a couple of years ago that, you know, the United States was very eager to get Pakistan to cut its ties to militants, to, quote, "change its behavior," that, you know, maybe, you know, Pakistan could be turned around in America's minds. You don't hear that anymore. ...

  • Harvard Professor Steve Walt, an exponent of international relations realism, is more direct. He is willing to say that the war is a stupid, costly defeat for the United States.

    The truth is that the United States and its allies lost the war in Iraq and are going to lose the war in Afghanistan. There: I said it. By "lose," I mean we will eventually withdraw our military forces without having achieved our core political objectives, and with our overall strategic position weakened.

  • We the people have had enough of the Afghanistan war.

    A majority (58 percent) in a recent CBS News Poll said the United States should not be involved in a war in Afghanistan now, while only 35 percent said the country was doing the right thing by fighting the war. Almost 70 percent said the war has lasted longer than expected and almost as many (62 percent) said the number of troops in Afghanistan should be decreased. ... In a national poll by Pew Research Center, 41 percent said that “considering the costs versus the benefits to the U.S.,” the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, but 52 percent disagreed.

When everyone knows that a war is nothing but waste of lives and treasure, simply futile, when does the killing stop?

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