Daily Archives: July 5, 2010

Afghanistan

The name alone sounds exotic, mysterious and vaguely sinister. Afghanistan is a country that has been difficult in many ways for many empires.

The name means “Land of the Afghans.”  “Istan” means “land of.” Afghans is the Persian name for Pushtuns, a dominate tribe in Afghanistan for centuries. Persians, of course, are now know as Iranians. The name dates from well before 1333, the first recorded use of the name, Afghans.

The Afghans have been frequently conquered by many an empires and subsequently have won their freedom from same. Most recently, they freed themselves from a ten year rule by the Soviets, only to be controlled by the Taliban.

Now, the Afghans are our problem.

It almost goes without saying that “winning” in Afghanistan is impossible. The Soviets killed a million Afghans and yet were chased out of the country by the Mujahideen. The US backed the Mujahideen, but failed to support them after the failure of the Soviets.

Now, the Afghans are our problem.

Our failure to support the Mujahideen led to the reemergence of tribal warlords in Afghanistan. Basically, Afghans swear allegiance to their tribal leaders and not to a centralized government.

Now, the United States is attempting to establish a centralized government without alienating the tribal communities.

The United States “War on Afghanistan” has been a disaster from virtually the beginning. The Taliban was routed within a few weeks, then we took our eye off the target and focused on Iraq.

The people of Afghanistan are used to this pattern – they are patient and resilient. It is a foregone conclusion that they will ultimately reclaim their lands from all foreign invaders.

Now, the Afghans are our problem.

War is different now. We are not trying to defeat an enemy as we did during World War II. We are attempting to control an ideology that is 1,400 years old. There will be no drive into Berlin or subjugation of Tokyo. There is no 38th parallel.

President Obama has made the right decision to begin withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan in mid-2011. We cannot, nor can anyone, win in that country.

The decision is simple – knock out those that sheltered al Qaeda and get out.

Thoughts?


William Stephenson Clark

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Monday, 7/5/10, Public Square

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