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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Afghanistan: "Why Are We Still There?"

This is the cost of war.  Look at it, don't turn away and pretend you didn't see.

Congressman Walter Jones, a republican from North Carolina, is raising that question in the House Armed Services Committee's hearings on the Afghan war this week.  Maureen Dowd writes in the NYT:
The impossible has happened in the past few weeks. A war that long ago reached its breaking point has gone mad, with violent episodes that seemed emblematic of the searing, mind-bending frustration on both sides after 10 years of fighting in a place where battle has been an occupation, and preoccupation, for centuries.

Afghan security forces cold-bloodedly murdered some American troops after Korans were burned by military personnel. Then an American soldier walked out of his base early one morning and began cold-bloodedly murdering Afghan innocents, leaving seven adults and nine children in one small village dead.

There was an exhausted feel to the oversight hearing, lawmakers on both sides looking visibly sapped by our draining decade of wars. Even hawks seem beaten down by our self-defeating pattern in Afghanistan: giving billions to rebuild the country, money that ends up in the foreign bank accounts of its corrupt officials. . . .

Jones was once so gung ho about W.’s attempts to impose democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan that, after the French opposed invading Iraq in 2003, he helped lead the effort to rename French fries “freedom fries” and French toast “freedom toast” in the House cafeteria.

But now he thinks that both wars are sucking away lives and money, reaping only futility, and that he was silly about the fries. He said he’s fed up with having military commanders and Pentagon officials come to Capitol Hill year after year for a decade and say about Afghanistan: “Our gains are sustainable, but there will be setbacks” and “We are making progress, but it’s fragile and reversible.”

He said he had recently visited Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital to see wounded troops: “I had a young Marine lance corporal who lost one leg,” in a room with his mother.

“My question is,” the Marine asked him, “Why are we still there?” . . .

[Jones] concluded: "We can declare victory now. But there’s one thing we cannot do, and that is change history, because Afghanistan has never changed since they’ve been existing."

The epitaph of our Sisyphean decade of two agonizing wars was written last year by then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates: “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to send a big American land army into Asia, or into the Middle East or Africa, should have his head examined."

What I Say:   Your Head Trucker is no military man, but as a student of history, the insanity of trying to subjugate and occupy a country so impenetrable and so far away has long been apparent, as shown by the disastrous careers of invaders in other lands down through the centuries, from Alexander to Napoleon to Hitler. This takes no special knowledge of military science, just a simple appreciation of the facts of geography, terrain, an enormously long supply line, the lack of dependable nearby allies, corruption, and the natural resistance of any people to a foreign invader.

It's crazy. It's stupid. It's a totally ridiculous proposition, one that is doomed to fail before it ever begins. And yet . . . why does our country keep doing this terrible thing? Korea - Vietnam - Iraq - Afghanistan. Does nobody in Washington ever have a brain bigger than his goddamn dick?

I bet the Marine lying there in Bethesda missing a leg wonders that too.


Tim said...

The answer lies in the public telling their elected leaders enough is enough, and I think the military would secretly agree with them. Thought proviking as ever Russ.

Frank said...

The hubris of one powerful man and the unwillingness of others to deny him power set in motion this nightmare.

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