President Obama has effectively put his political future on the line by saying he wants victory in Afghanistan by the end of his first four years. If that doesn’t happen, he may not get a second four years.
Obama in another well thought out speech, his strongest attribute, feels we have to win in Afghanistan if we are going to defeat terrorist activity aimed at America. The trouble with his argument is that it’s based on dealing with a rational national entity, not tribal culture in a fractured and divided country.
The 9/11 suicide squad wasn’t made up of uneducated Afghans. They were college educated Arabs, mainly from Saudi Arabia, allegedly Osama bin Laden’s men. Whether Bin Laden was based in Afghanistan or not is rather academic since we don’t really know where and his kidney dialysis machine are today. The best guess is in some cave with electricity near or across the Pakistani border. Or he could be partying with those 77 virgins awarded Muslim heroes in heaven.
Obama says Afghanistan can’t be compared to Vietnam. Wrong! In essence we are doing what we tried to do there, create a democratic regime in a divided tribal society where such ideas are unknown. But more than that, we are engaging a hardened elusive enemy that knows the territory better than we do. This is almost identical to Vietnam.
The Mohammed Karsai government has limited control over a small section of the nation, a nation that in fact is more a region than a single country. Yet, no one seems to be able to pinpoint a hotbed of Afghan terrorism aimed at America. But, we do know that the Taliban enjoy more widespread support, poissibly out of fear, than Karsai does.
However, as with Iraq, you can be fairly certain, our effective occupation of the country is a great recruiting tool for either terrorists or guerrilla fighters…fighters we originally armed in their war against the Russians. Now, we are seen in the same light as the Russians were during their disastrous stay in the country. And they’re using similar tactics against NATO troops as they did against the Russians.
We have yet to learn that we can’t and shouldn’t fight civil wars in other nations, wars that force our leaders to come up with emotive reasons for our participation. About the only certain thing you can say about our reason for being in Afghanistan is to keep women from being forced to wear burkas.
Yes, the Taliban regime was totally repressive and brutal. But, is ridding the country of this gang our business to the point where we are losing hundreds of American and NATO troops?
Our main role in Afghanistan should be to train the Afghans to defend their own country. If they can’t do that and the Taliban return once we leave, we will be left with three choices: The learn to deal with the Taliban, to maintain permanent presence in the country, a prospect that Obama doesn’t want to contemplate or to simply leave and announce to the world that the USA isn’t such a super-power after all.