While President Obama claimed that “Afghanistan is no Viet Nam”, I personally believe the similarities and the attendent boondoggles are close enough to make any differences moot. I have borrowed the ideas for this thread from Hightower’s Hightower Lowdown, Vol. 11, No. 10, Oct. 2009.
First off, should our country be going about our possible escalation of forces based on the judgement of a few generals? Our president recently claimed that the mission in Afghanistan is “to disrupt, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies.” Hightower asks “what this mean? Is this what America should be doing? Is it worth doing?” – All are questions that should be publicly debated.
Secondly, we’re in Afghanistan to whip Al Qaeda! Uh… Mr. President, U.S. Defense Dept., Al Qaeda left Afghanistan a long time ago. Al Qaeda’s main base is in Pakison. Does fighting the war in the wrong country remind anyone else of a former president?
Reason number three: We’ll save the people from the Taliban. The Taliban is not monlithic unified group. They include illiterate farmers, former anti-Soviet warriors, roving bandits, opportunistic drug trraffickers. They are a nasty outfit when it comes to their treatment of girls and women. The Taliban, however, is not a surrogate for Al Qaeda.
Reason four: We must support the Afghan President. President Karzai’s influence stops at the city limits of the capital city, Kabul. Afghanistan, politically and structurally, is a tribal area where different smaller tribal leaders are the sole government that has any real meaning to the citizens. There is no national government to protect. Also, Karzai’s blatant corruption and electoral fraud, doesn’t speak well to the locals about U.S. support.
Reason 5: We’re Training the Afghan Army. Given the sorry shape of the national military force, it could take up untold years and treasure to bring the Army up to minimally effective readiness. There is an absolute derth of reliable military commanders for the Afghan Army and resolving this problem will take years.
Is it time to reconsider the Afghan mission? Alternate opinions appreciated.