Monday, January 5, 2009

Afghanistan

Bob Hebert of the NY Times gives his take on Obama and Afghanistan:

"The U.S. military is worn out from years of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. The troops are stressed from multiple deployments. Equipment is in disrepair. Budgets are beyond strained. Sending thousands of additional men and women (some to die, some to be horribly wounded) on a fool’s errand in the rural, mountainous guerrilla paradise of Afghanistan would be madness."

I could not agree more. A conventional ground war against either Afghans or Al Qaeda operatives is the height of futility. History has shown that the only way to conquer this country is to occupy it entirely; we would literally need to move our entire armed forces into Afghanistan. And even then, we would only be squeezing the balloon. The Afghanis themselves have no inborn hostility towards the United States. The Taliban only gives help to Al Queda out of political convenience.

Terrorism itself is a psychological war. It cannot be won through conventional warfare; the only result is a campaign of Pyrrhic victories. It can only be won by changing the minds and hearts of potential terrorists. Conventional warfare against terrorism is a twisted game of whack-a-mole; one in which every dead terrorist results in the creation of two more.

We should, at this time and point in our economic history, realize that our resources are indeed limited. We must accept the fact that unsavory dictators will rule countries in ways that we will not like. We have to choose between a Quixotic quest to force Western civilization upon people who are not prepared for it or don't want it, and what may be our last chance to stay true to our American ideals and become the country that the rest of the world can look to.

Violence begets violence; further incursions into Afghanistan will only solidify our reputation as a country that will force its will on others without thought. Barack Obama has a real opportunity to make a difference, to change the perception of America throughout the world while saving American lives, Afghan lives, and American resources. Campaign promises are just that; when they are mistaken, they should be forgotten. Better them then the untold Agfhans and Americans we will lose if he does not.

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