Afghanistan: Sometimes I Wonder …

As readers who have followed my writings — some call them rants — for the past few years know, while I have always opposed and condemned our invasion and occupation of Iraq, I have supported our efforts in Afghanistan to catch and punish the perpetrators of 9/11 and, in some measure, to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban.

However, so many of the reports coming out of that country about the government’s corruption, the incompetence of its military and the continuing barbarism by some of its people have made me pause and, yes, reconsider several times recently.

Take the barbaric — there’s that word again — acts perpetrated against a poor, defenseless 15-year-old girl by her own flesh-and-blood because she refused to go into prostitution.

There have been so many other instances — too many — of similar atrocities and human rights violations, that one sometimes must wonder: Is this what we are spilling our blood for and wasting our treasure for “over there”?

Some will say, we are still there because of 9/11. I thought we had killed its mastermind and have decimated al-Qaeda.

Some will say, we are fighting over there for our national security. Show me how.

Some will say we are fighting there to bring some democracy and human rights over there. Are we?

Yes, we do sometimes see similar barbaric acts in our own country. However, such exceptions, such aberrations in our culture should not be a straw man to shoot at in this tragedy.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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20 Comments

  1. Even more, Dorian, we should not be enablers of the barbarians. Can it be that simple?

  2. The_Ohioan says:

    “Even more, Dorian, we should not be enablers of the barbarians. Can it be that simple?

    Given our continued presence and sacrifice there, I guess it is not “that simple.”
    Perhaps some of our readers will explain why not.

  3. So you are saying we should leave Afghanistan, because we have failed to bring democracy and human rights over there and won’t be able to improve things, right?

    Thus we should pull out, even though we all know that babaric acts like the one you mentioned will only increase if we pull out. That’s what you are saying, right?

    The police arrested the in-laws. They won’t (be able to) do that once we leave.

  4. JOERG WOLF says:

    “So you are saying we should leave Afghanistan, because we have failed to bring democracy and human rights over there and won’t be able to improve things, right?”

    NO, that’s not what I said. I said:

    “Some will say we are fighting there to bring some democracy and human rights over there.” Then I asked ” Are we?

    JOERG WOLF says:

    “Thus we should pull out, even though we all know that babaric [sic] acts like the one you mentioned will only increase if we pull out. That’s what you are saying, right?”

    Please show me, where I said that.

    But you are correct, I — and many others — are afraid that when we pull out such barbaric acts will return/ increase.

    JOERG WOLF says:

    “The police arrested the in-laws. They won’t (be able to) do that once we leave.”

    Good point. When we leave justice might not be done. So, for how long should we stay there?

    And, please don’t put words in my mouth.

    Thank you

  5. We should leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. If any of the other participating countries want to stay, they are free to do so. Maybe Russia or China will re-invade and bring civilization to their own region.

    We knew this was a dead end when we went down this road a decade ago. Though the human toll is far less than in the wars of yore, it’s costing us way to much in treasure. Even to the point of our own demise, if we are not very careful. Other real and ominous threats are immerging. We must move on for our own good.

  6. I’ve never visited the country, so all I can comment on is what I’ve read. Hopefully, someone can point me to a better resource for accurate information.

    It seems that Afghanistan is a country only for our convenience, but the people themselves see their tribal leaders as their real government. If that’s true, then any attempts to fix the country are probably doomed, because we’re working at a level they don’t accept.

    If you want to stop terrorists from attacking the US, stop attacking them. It’s funny how that works.

    Also, I’ve never believed in humanitarian wars. It always sounds like “Please, won’t you buy a bullet — for a starving child”.

  7. Prof-

    The Balkans seems to be an exception to your belief prof. I see your point though.

    Maybe some day technology will allow protection of the innocent on par with policing a Saturday night juke-joint in south Louisiana. Until then, I fear we must accept the things we cannot change.

  8. Hard to know what shape the world would be in if we weren’t always trying to play world policeman. Who knows, maybe all our intrusions make no difference in the long run, or even make matters worse. Meanwhile, we have serious, serious problems in our own backyard that aren’t being resolved. Eisenhower was right.

  9. Zephyr:”Eisenhower was right.”

    True, in warning us about the military-industrial complex, but kind of ironic, since he started the meddling in the mid-east that led up to our current conflicts.

  10. JW… they only arrested the female members of the family. Soooooo much for justice. Barbaric acts won’t increase after we leave. We just won’t hear about them anymore.

  11. Dorian, I read somewhere (I think it may have been a reference to Pinker’s new book) that one of the reasons that War-in-general has been overall (worldwide)more scrutinized has been its tendency to not really change anything anymore. He discussed the issues with borders, actual land swaps or significant economic resource capture because of war, which generally haven’t happened for some time now.

    I guess it could certainly be said of our two recent wars that the retrospective concept of “spreading democracy” or somehow turning those nations into capitalist nations, or even (as some of my right-wing friends would insist) show them Jesus, just haven’t turned out to be realized.

    I wonder how that will come into play with the new Iran “situation,” and how election politics will begin that steady drum-beat once again that repeats “bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran…”

  12. JeffP:

    It is my humble opinion that the Iran “situation” is quite a bit different from Afghanistan and, especially, Iraq.

    Contrary to the baseless and totally fraudulent claims that Iraq was an imminent threat to our national security, there are some people (and some countries, e.g. Israel) who genuinely feel that Iran will be a clear and present danger when and if it acquires nuclear weapons. I am probably one of those. Where many people differ is in how to prevent Iran from doing so. I would not be opposed to an Israeli surgical strike, but I do realize that there may be dire consequences. What is probably a little more dangerous right now are Iran’s threats for unspecified military actions if our aircraft carrier(s) return to the Persian Gulf as they have every right to and as Obama and our Navy intend to exercise.

  13. “What is probably a little more dangerous right now are Iran’s threats for unspecified military actions if our aircraft carrier(s) return to the Persian Gulf as they have every right to and as Obama and our Navy intend to exercise.”

    Glad you mentioned that! I have been waiting for a post on this subject. The drums of war are beating and Iran will have to back down or there will be war.

    I’d post something myself, but I don’t think our editors have the spare time to correct my terrible writing ;)

  14. S.L says:

    “I’d post something myself, but I don’t think our editors have the spare time to correct my terrible writing ;)”

    If TMV “management” agrees, I’d be happy to edit your post. Go for it!

  15. Oh no…you mean actually gathering my thoughts and putting fingers to keyboard!?!!?!? (pen to paper is so 20th century)

  16. Iran is not that close to having a nuclear weapon, and sanctions probably won’t work against the government. The people will probably suffer, as usual.

    Sorry, but this just screams “false flag”.

  17. Dorian,

    I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

    Perhaps you could clarfy your policy position.

    This “made me pause and, yes, reconsider several times recently.” is vague and let me to the interpretation I used in my first comment.

    How do you want us to interprete your rhetorical question “Is this what we are spilling our blood for and wasting our treasure for “over there”?”

  18. Jörg says:

    “Perhaps you could clarfy your policy position.

    This ‘made me pause and, yes, reconsider several times recently.’ is vague and let me to the interpretation I used in my first comment.”

    There is nothing to clarify nor to “interpret” What I say is what I say and what I mean: After having supported our initial military actions in Afghanistan to take care of those who perpetrated 9/11, I am now having second thoughts on our prolonged stay in Afghanistan, after having achieved those objectives. I hope it is OK with you for one to reconsider one’s positions.

    As to, “How do you want us to interprete [sic] your rhetorical question ‘Is this what we are spilling our blood for and wasting our treasure for “over there’”, I really don’t care how you interpret it. I have made my views clear and I am at peace and at ease with them.

    Thank you.

  19. Thanks, I now I get it. TMVs military affairs columnist does not have a policy position, but just “second thoughts.”

    You are “reconsidering” like millions of people, but have not made up your mind.

    That’s very newsworthy. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Jörg,

    Again, thank you for your comments, although you may want to familiarize yourself with TMV’s commenting rules, in particular:

    “(4) Our comment space is reserved for comments that relate to each post’s topic specifically, not the writer, not what the commenter thinks the writer should or shouldn’t write about …”

    Having said that, I have nothing to apologize for, or to explain, or to justify about reconsidering my “policy positions” — as you call them.

    Nevertheless, if you take the time to read my numerous past articles on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — and other conflicts and wars — you will see how my “policy positions” have evolved.

    Somewhere I read the following:

    “Judgment [critical thinking]: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.”

    And with that I leave you, with sincere admiration for not having “second thoughts” on issues such as war and peace — it must be blissful.

    It has been interesting exchanging comments with you.

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