Friday, November 13, 2009

The Tragedy and Futility of Afghanistan

The more I learn about Afghanistan, the more hopeless our cause seems. The latest shock is that we are paying the Taliban through intermediaries to let our supply trucks though. We are funding both sides of the war.  See:

Karzai and company are utterly corrupt are not likely to change much. The loss of life, the suffering, and  the expense are not worth the meager goals we might achieve by staying.

Along with a growing number, I think we should devise achievable goals while we get out. The consequences might be severe, of course, and we would have to live with that. I dread especially what it might mean for the children, especially the girls who  could be denied an education or liberation from the despicably oppressive rule of men whose ethics are rooted in centuries-old brutal traditions.

What is our goal anyway? I have no better answer than Peter Berger: Try to get Afghanistan back to where it was in the 70's. See:

Maybe this is unrealistic romanticism not relevant to present conditions. But one move that is relevant would be to persuade  the local warlords and chieftains by appropriate financial and other inducements that they would be better off to oppose the Taliban and support the American cause. The local authorities, not Kabul, are the ruling powers. They don't want the Americans and other foreign troops there, but they do want a better life for their people. Make that possible. It would be cheaper that continued military occupation.

In any case, Pakistan is the heart of the problem. Berger maintains that the Taliban would never have been successful without the intelligence and military  forces of Pakistan. Hence,we should say to Pakistan: Either you deal with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in your country with our aerial and financial assistance, or ____(fill in with the strongest alternatives that would be effective without destabilizing the country or letting it fall into the hands of the extremists with their fingers on the nuclear button). In addition tell them that we will do all we can to insure that India does them no harm while they deal with our mutual enemies within your borders.

Bottom line: there are no good solutions. Let us hope that Obama comes up with the least bad option. I trust him more than any of the certaintists, who know exactly what we should in the absolute confidence that the consequences will be a predicted.

The younger Bush left us with unsolvable  ensemble of problems by neglecting Afghanistan to overthrow Saddam Hussein -- a tragic mistake. Suppose  the US had reinstalled King  Mohammed Zahir Shah instead of supporting the present disgrace Hamid Karzai.

Of course, we cannot make or remake history to our liking. It is supremely important to recognize the limits of power and do what is prudently doable in the pursuit of national security and international peace and justice.

Others have made more powerfully and in detail the case I am making, a fact likely to be be familiar to anyone who chances to read this. I merely join them in suggesting we get out as quickly as possible and in a manner consonant with achievable modest goals.

Then we tell Israel and the Palestinians to make a just peace, or they are on their own -- no money  or military assistance to either side.  This, of course, is what ought to be done, but political realities in this country make it impossible given the power of Christians and Jews to prevent it or anything else that would effectively lead to peace and justice in that area.

Next time: what to do about Iraq and Iran, global warming, world poverty, and the delay or the Parousia.

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