Monday, September 21, 2009

An(other) impossible war?

As McChrystal puts out the call for more troops, does anyone other than me have this deja vu feeling about the war in Afghanistan? I can’t see that we’ve accomplished a whole lot in the years of fighting, in which we’ve lost a lot of American soldiers and a significant number of innocent Afghan civilians. It is starting to have the feeling of a war decades ago from which we finally just walked away.

Unfortunately Obama’s campaign claimed we must win the war in Afghanistan to keep Al Queda at bay. But even he is now talking about a redefinition of what winning the war means.

My understanding is the Taliban is just as strong as ever, having totally rebounded in most of the areas where we supposedly had wiped them out. I can imagine much of the country is in shambles after non-stop war for decades. The liberation promised the Afghan people was short-lived as the Taliban once again resume their conservative stranglehold on the country.

I keep remembering Greg Mortenson’s approach to dealing with the problems in this part of the world. It did not require guns or bombs or combat troops. But rather it involved building schools and educating children, primarily the girls who were otherwise denied an education. In this way the pervasive ignorance could be wiped out without the incredible destruction that traditional war leaves in its wake.

So when I hear that more troops are needed, I want to shout NO NO NO, and instead figure out how to bring those fighting in Afghanistan home. I’m increasingly convinced that this is yet another war we cannot win. I’m not even sure we really know whom we are fighting any longer.

It’s not that I support an isolationist attitude of letting them take care of their own problems. It’s rather that I would much prefer a more humanitarian approach that to at least some degree goes about repairing the vast amount of damage from our attempt to date at winning the war in Afghanistan.

Any thoughts?


Blogger Kristin said...

I've never understood what winning meant. Mortenson's book really made me think, as does the fact that I'm living in a house vacated by a journalist who went to Afghanistan. There's a lot I don't understand.

10:19 PM  

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