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America’s long, long war in Afghanistan has drained more than 1,500 precious lives and about a half trillion dollars from our country. But, finally, this enormous outlay paid off with the capture and killing of that al Quaeda demon, Osama bin Laden, who attacked America and was the reason our military went into Afghanistan.
Oh, wait – Osama wasn’t in Afghanistan, was he? He was comfortably ensconced in Pakistan, whose leaders are supposedly our allies. And it wasn’t the costly Afghan war effort that got bin Laden, it was old-time spy work, culminating in a raid involving a small team of Navy Seals, a dog, and two helicopters.
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So why have two presidents and a decade of Congresses dumped so many lives and so much money into a country that poses no threat to us? Hardly a powerhouse, Afghanistan is an impoverished, anarchic, largely-illiterate land of ancient tribal factions and fractious war-lord fiefdoms. They have no desire or ability to attack us.
The only reason we’re given for being in Afghanistan is that we must keep al Qaeda terrorists from establishing bases there. But – like bin Laden – al Qaeda left this country years ago and now operates transnationally in Pakistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan, and elsewhere, including England and Germany.
Yet, we’re told we must continue to pour American lives and dollars into Afghanistan. But… why? To create a central, democratically-elected government with a 300,000 member army and police force, we’re told. But why? To stabilize the country, they say. But, why? To keep al Qaeda out, they repeat, closing the endless loop of a Kafkaesque rational.
Yes, President Obama has finally started a slow withdrawal of U.S. troops, but that’ll take at least three years, more than $300 billion, and untold numbers of shattered lives. The question remains: Why?
“Making a stronger case for a slow Afghan exit,” Austin American Statesman, June 27, 2011.
“After decade of war, future remains cloudy,” Austin American Statesman, June 27, 2011.