Thursday, October 08, 2009

Afghanistan - Obama and Us

An interesting summary of the history of Afghanistan can be found at:

I get a little confused with terms which come up repeatedly justifying U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) related to:

1. 911
2. Al Qaeda and
3. The Taliban

To the best of my knowledge Afghanistan itself had little (if anything) to do with 911. Al-Qaeda is described frequently as if it is a "worldwide conspiracy" much as "Communism" was viewed during the 1940's-1980's.

"Al-Qaeda (pronounced /ælˈkaɪdə/ or /ælˈkeɪdə/; Arabic: القاعدة‎, al-qāʿidah, "the base"), alternatively spelled al-Qaida and sometimes al-Qa'ida, is an Islamist group founded sometime between August 1988[5] and late 1989 and early 1990.[6] It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless arm[7] and a fundamentalist Sunni movement calling for global jihad.

Al-Qaeda has attacked civilian and military targets in various countries, the most notable being the September 11 attacks in 2001. These actions were followed by the US government launching the War on Terrorism. Between three thousand and four thousand members of the network have been captured, and many thousands more killed on the front in Afghanistan.

The section describing Al-Qaeda seems as reasonable a "popular" definition as is available.

The Taliban (Pashto: طالبان ṭālibān, meaning "students"), also Taleban, is a Sunni Islamist, predominantly Pashtun radical religious and political movement that governed Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when its leaders were removed from power by NATO forces. It has regrouped and since 2004 revived as a strong insurgency movement governing at the local level and fighting a guerrilla war against the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, allied NATO forces participating in Operation Enduring Freedom, and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).[4] It operates in Afghanistan and the Frontier Tribal Areas of Pakistan.[5]

I am somewhat confused about the War conducted purportedly against both Al-Qaeda and The Taliban in Afghanistan as well as related actions in Pakistan. It is unclear to me What we are trying to accomplish and How we can Possibly "succeed" in such an endeavor. It has been alleged by various people that we are fighting a "War Against Terrorism" and are trying to prevent future "911's".

It is unclear to me how U.S. and a few other "allied" troops in Afghanistan are preventing future 911's? It seems to me that many, if not a majority of the population of Afghanistan dislike Both The Taliban and the U.S. Government Forces in their country. It seems that what we are fighting is a continuation of many hundreds of years of wars of outsiders invading an area which rarely has been unified as "a country".

It would seem perhaps naively to me that we could do a lot more to prevent terrorism and future wars and similar by:

1. Seriously resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict,
2. Working to support "mainstream" people in many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere economically and socially, but not militarily,
3. Seriously Changing the Perspective and Image of the U.S.- becoming a "friend" and an "ally" and a "good neighbor" - unlike the images put forth in such areas as: a. "Banana Republics", or b. The Phillipines - in the past,
4. Seriously working to deal with our Own Local Problems - such as Racism, Sexism, Classism, etc.

Silly Me! Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Quick once over the world for you.

The soviets left Afghanistan = civil war = instability.

Enter Taliban. Why? Legitimacy. They provided security(winning the civil war,executing criminals in the streets), medical care, jobs etc... much like hamas and hezbollah do in Lebanon and Jordan. The majority of the populace is indifferent to this. They provide for the average person in their country so what do locals care if they are launching rockets into Israel or, in the Afghan case, planning to fly planes into American buildings.

Taliban is fanatical. Provides support for AQI(Al Qaeda) and other militant Islamic groups. Afghanistan becomes major training center for terrorists AND insurgents(2 different things) internationally.

Planes hit buildings. 3k+ murdered. Not a political response to "our foreign policy." An act of war supported by the Taliban controlled government of Afghanistan.

Enter US. We initiate regime change. Goals are to provide a legitimate stable government in the country that can provide the essentials for its population without supporting terrorist organizations and the like. Not to set up a mini-America. Creating a new infrastructure, cash crops besides opium, providing security for the local populace.

We without establishing this? Civil War. Enter Taliban. Supports terrorists/insurgents with all the PR that comes from defeating not only the Soviet Union but the US(great for recruiting) Once again because international training ground... you see where this is going?

This will take time and it is a worthy cause. I read your post from about 2 years ago on Iraq and what an impossible feat that would be to accomplish. I've been in the Army for about 11 years and I'm currently an infantry platoon leader in Baghdad bored out of my mind(only reason I read your asinine blog). Why am I bored you ask? Because it's working. The Iraqi Army has nearly completely replaced us. We hardly leave the wire anymore and when I do I spend more of my time high-fiving little kids, being thanked by local nationals, and getting fed so much chicken and rice I'm almost tired of it. Almost. I guess it wasn't worth it for you. But it seems like it was to them.

That is the problem with you idiots. Self-proclaimed humanitarians. You want to bitch about the horrors in Iraq and Afghanistan and how we'll never change anything. You'd rather we leave and throw these people's families to the wolves and let these monsters tear them apart. As long as you don't see it on TV it might as well not be happening. But then you want us to intervene in places like Rwanda and with the Palestinian conflict? How do you think that would play out? Think we could do it without firing a shot?

You cry about the horrors we've done to them(people of Iraq/Afghanistan), but then you dismiss them completely by saying we should just leave? "Because they've been fighting for 1000's of years." Very cliche. I bet you haven't read a bit of Iraqi or Afghan history outside of a random click on Wikipedia.

We have an opportunity right now to make things better for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. There are good people here who have families just like you and I and they want the same things for them that we want for ours. Do they want a foreign military in their country? Of course not, who would? But they certainly don't want us to leave yet either I can tell you that. They want and need our support and we can succeed at this. Not by leaving and abandoning them at the hands of monsters so that you don't have to watch it on the evening news, but by staying the course with them. It will take a long time as any movement has but we will succeed if you let us. Oh and btw... what the fuck have you done lately?

Wasn't as quick as I thought...

geo said...

The Soviets left Afghanistan - after failing - The U.S. at that time - was supporting some of whom have now become our "enemies" - against the Soviets.

I wouldn't defend The Taliban. I would say, however, that Much of the Support that they get comes from the fact that they are "local", not "outsiders" as we are.

It does amaze me though at how U.S. and allied troops seemingly can't "win" against a force that presumably lacks some of our firepower and air support and much more.

One may dislike Hamas and Hezbollah. Hamas - was the freely elected "winner" of the last elections held in the West Bank and Gaza. They won - because of the Failures - of the "more moderate" - supposedly U.S. supported opposition.

Hezbollah may be more complicated to categorize.

The rockets launched into Israel are "wrong", however the numbers killed by rockets over years - is miniscule - I'm guesssing under 20-30 vs. the Gazans killed by Israeli forces. In general the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis is small in proportion to those killed by Israelis. One might also consider that Gaza and the West Bank are "Palestinian" - in native population - not Israeli - Israel is the "invader" of their lands.

The ties between 911 - and Afghanistan are strange. Zero bombers of 911 came from Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia is the primary country where 911 bombers came from - however Saudi Arabia is our supposed "ally".

Our Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - provide the propaganda value for the creation of far more "fanatics" and potential "terrorists" - than would otherwise exist if we militarily wound down our operations and provided Real Economic Assistance, not opportunities for a few large U.S. Corporations to make huge profits.

I have no love for The Taliban as I have no love for Hamas. I do see, however, how we've helped through our narrow minded perspectives to allow such forces to exist and grow.

You might want to read a history of Where the U.S. has gotten involved in militarily (and in related ways)- one can go back to much in the Americas and the Phillipines - and move on to Iran where the Shah of Iran - was our beloved ally - helping to lead to the horrible regimes there since he was overthrown.

The Taliban did NOT kill 3k people on 911!

The Taliban at one time was against the opium growers who they now support.

The Karzai Government - is now so corrupt and so lacks local support that we - lack sadly - the option of building an infrastructure as you and I both would like in Afghanistan.

Your naive perspective on the U.S. Government - and our Military - of which you are a part of reflect much of prevailing wisdom - that leads us over and over again to difficult and impossible situations in much of the world.

Men and women like you end up frequently being the true victims giving up your lives Thinking that you are Helping others. I don't question your motives and your hopes. I question the Government which betrays you - putting you in impossible situations.

Naively - I hope that we will change U.S. Foreign Policy - Not simply withdrawing troops - overnight - leading to bloodbaths, but changing our policies. My biggest hope and concern is with Israel and the Palestinians - I'm Jewish - I have plenty of relatives whose lives would be in danger if the dreaded "2nd Holocaust" - that many fear were to happen there.

The life partner of my 2nd cousin - Reumah - (she's 90, he's 86 or 87) - in Israel - courageously supports peace efforts and dialog - I respect him and his insights.

Many, many others - do great work - working for peace and justice and a better U.S. - where our citizens have healthcare, housing and food - to live - and the opportunities to work to build a better U.S. and world around us.

While I may call you "naive", I don't disparage you as a person, nor question your motives.

Good Luck!