From Iraq to Afghanistan
By: Peter Deccy
The politicians and pundits agree! Let’s move the quagmire from Iraq to Afghanistan!
After all, Afghanistan is the good war, right? Not the one we were led into with lies and promises of easy victory. We simply can’t let al Queda and the Taliban set up shop again. This is the war we have to win…
This lack of critical assessment is most troubling because it means our nation could lose another four thousand of our sons and daughters and our economy bleed another $600 billion before the American people realize we are locked in another unwinnable occupation.
In the end, just as is the case in Iraq, the Afghan people will still be among the poorest in the world and the Afghan government will still have limited control outside the capital, Kabul with US troops dying just to hold on to that.
Without a legitimate Afghan government in place, chances are we won’t be any more secure than we are today. And our troops will be seen as foreign occupiers.
Someone in our government should address the charge that the Karzai government is “deeply corrupt and incompetent.” That phrase, by the way, was drawn from a Washington Post article and attributed to an unnamed source in the Bush administration more comfortable telling the truth when not on the record.
Perhaps this time we should be asking questions about the government we are getting in to bed with and make sure their sins don’t become ours.
Perhaps our elected officials should take a long, hard look at how the fight against the Taliban and other insurgent forces in Afghanistan is costing the lives of thousands of innocent civilians and what that does to our imagine around the world.
Perhaps? You’d expect that at the minimum before any further American lives and any further treasure are put at risk.
It would be nice to know at least, that our elected officials were aware that the insurgents in Afghanistan are not all Taliban and the problems of controlling the country are not all caused by insurgents. In fact, so-called warlords run much of the country and their allegiance is to themselves.
In terms of creating a vibrant democracy in Afghanistan, the current, deteriorating political situation is no less daunting than the sectarian divisions that thwart a political settlement in Iraq and perhaps more so.
So as the candidates for the nation’s highest office and the holders of the purse strings in Congress prepare to guide our country into another quagmire with no one challenging the validity of their assumptions, it falls upon us once again to sound the alarm. And though we are not in the business of developing military and political strategy alternatives for them, Peace Action does have a suggestion.
First, the Afghan war was started on a false premise. You cannot ‘defeat’ terrorist groups through warfare. Terrorism isn’t a country or even a movement. Even small disaffected groups can plan suicide attacks.
Stopping these groups and their tactics requires police methods – good intelligence and international cooperation. It also requires dealing with the crippling poverty and lack of education and opportunity that feed fanaticism.
Finally, a peace process is needed. The US will not succeed in imposing a government on Afghanistan. Negotiations with all factions in Afghanistan, including the Taliban and Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Pakistan and Iran is the best bet for a real solution.
Afghanis are proud they’ve never been conquered. They fought off the British and the Russian armies and are ready to fight our troops as well for as long as it takes to drive them out.
Peace Action’s “No Soldier Left Behind’ campaign is aimed at bringing political pressure on our elected officials to end the occupation in Iraq. But we want to return our troops to the warm embrace of those who love them, not send them off to another quagmire.