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.


William Stephenson Clark


Filed under Afghanistan

12 responses to “Afghanistan

  1. klaus

    I agree.

    We can’t “win” by using the vast array of technologically superior weapons we have. We can’t “win” this war with an army that was–in many ways still is–designed to beat the USSR.

    The only way to “win” in Afghanistan is by building a nation. But that requires a long, slow, expensive, frustrating process that may take decades. We have neither the resources nor the patience for that.

    So I agree. The time is past due to leave.

    But just wait to hear the cries of ‘treason’ from the Wrong Wingers.

    I can hear the Stab in the Back Legend being written even as we speak. After all, didn’t Rambo prove that we could have “won” in Vietnam?

    That was a documentary, right?

  2. davika

    Rachel Maddow is blogging from Afghnnanistan…

  3. This is one area we disagree on. When we invaded Afghanistan, we were doing the right thing. They directly supported Al-Qaeda after 9/11. We said give them up, the Taliban didn’t, so we went in.

    Bush, voted one of the five worst presidents in the history of this great nation, dumped on the troops there by going after a tin-pot dictator instead, and left the war in Afghanistan in shambles.

    Obama comes along and reinvigorates the war effort there in an attempt to set up a decent government that will not be beholden to the terrorist that attacked this country, and eliminate both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Because if we don’t, they will retake the country and continue to be a threat to this country. Make no mistake about that.

    So while I hate war, finishing this one is paramount to the safety of this country. And believe me, I hate that it’s necessary. And I hate that I have to think that way, but I’d be dishonest with myself if I didn’t.

  4. WSClark

    Interesting article about the decision to “surge” in Afghanistan.

    “T Minus Two Years – Believe the president on Afghanistan.”

  5. tosmarttobegop

    It is the same argument I have stated before, it makes no sense to continue to think we are fighting Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan when they moved next door.

    It is like the fire department responded to a house fire then once the fire had gone. Returned since there once was a fire there, ignoring the house being on fire next door.

    Because once there was a house fire they had been called to at the house that is not longer on fire.

    100 Al-Qaeda are still in Afghanistan, the Afghans themselves have said they do not see the Taliban as an enemy.

    Rather a misguided brother who has simply gone on a drinking binge and needs a intervention.

    We seeing them as a threat and needed to be killed there is a conflict of intent.

    Is the United States doing exactly what is complained about the Religious Right is doing?

    we think we know exactly how others should be doing and how they should be living for their own good.

    So we are doing a good and right thing to force them to live as we think they should be living.

    I.E, nation building?

    Reminds me of a old joke that is too long to be re-told but the end of if is a man hearing that pigs are one of the most intelligent animals. He takes a pig, cleans it up and teaches it to wear clothes and eat with table wear. Then the first chance the pig gets it runs to a mud hole and wallows in the mud!

    The human is dumbfounded, as to why would a pig not realize that being human and living as a human is better then living like a pig!

    • To be honest, rebuilding Afghanistan is important, but the safety of this nation surpasses all others. While Al-Qaeda may be next door, if we leave, they will be back. And also, next door is a nuclear country, so there’s that to consider. Should Al-Qaeda and it’s allies get a hold of a nuke, where do you think they’ll use it. And believe me, they will use it.

      I just think there’s too much at stake to bail without completing the job. But, again, that’s just my opinion.

  6. tosmarttobegop

    I went through a seminar on terrorism, one of the speeches talking about one problem we had when it came to the middle eastern mindset was this.

    For hundreds of years it was a common practice of diplomacy to take hostages. There were even rules to it, you did not mistreat your hostage simply not allow them to leave.

    They also understood that it was their duty to not try and escape.

    There were the negotiations for as long as it took till finally an agreement was met.
    So when the United States refused to negotiate, they saw that it was the U.S. was not following the rules.
    And were the one who were doing something totally wrong and confusing.

    In interacting with others who are not of our mindset it s important that we stop and see how they mindset works too. In other parts of this planet and other people’s customs and civilizations there are norms and practices that we would not understand. Think them bad or unacceptable.

    An example? In some African tribes it is the custom for a young girl appouching the age of womanhood and marriage. Starts living with a older woman who she will have a Lesbian relationship. The older woman will teach the girl of sex and how to perform as a woman and when they are with their husband.

    For that people this makes perfect sense and is totally a reasonable practice.

    We on the other hand looking in from outside it is unthinkable thing to be doing!

  7. Senator Graham, a man we all discussed recently as one of the few Republicans who still garners our respect, visited Afghanistan this past weekend and said, “If you’re a student of history, you would know that America cannot afford to allow Afghanistan to go back into Taliban control. We’re not here fighting a ground war to occupy this country. We’re here to help Afghans who can live in peace with us.”

    When asked about the RNC Chairman’s comment about this being a war of Obama’s choosing, he said, “It’s not about Michael Steele. It’s not about the Republican Party. It’s about this country. This is July 4. There are a lot of young men and women spending July 4 in Afghanistan for the second or third time. We all owe it to them to stand behind them.

    This is not President Obama’s war. This is America’s war.”

  8. Anything I would have to say on this subject would be worthless as my mind is closed to war and I shouldn’t be listened to because of my biases. I pray for peace for all people of all countries so we may all live within our own culture with the dignity that should be afforded every human.

  9. indypendent

    Thoughts about Afghanistan?

    I wonder what role the fact that there are now trillions of dollars worth of mineral resources recently confirmed in Afghanistan will play in our need for this war? I remember reading that the Wall Street fat cats are already sending their teams into assess this found treasure.

    If the US military is in Afghanistan to really try to get rid of the Taliban – that is one thing.

    But if our military will be once again used only for to provide safety escorts for certain well-connected private contractors to simply get richer – then I say we do not need to be in country and pull the troops NOW.

  10. davika

    Why can’t we just party like it’s 1999?