Saturday, August 2, 2008

Afghanistan is Not the "Good War"

Is the war in Afghanistan any more justified than the occupation of Iraq? Not in my opinion. More civilians and soldiers are dying in Afghanistan recently than since the war began. Lately, American politicians are talking of withdrawing troops from Iraq to put them into Afghanistan. This is a bad idea for several reasons, the main one being that force and the use of the military is not the recommended way to fight terrorism. The most recent conclusion on this was reached by a RAND study that found:

"All terrorist groups eventually end. But how do they end? Answers to this question have enormous implications for counterterrorism efforts. The evidence since 1968 indicates that most groups have ended because (1) they joined the political process or (2) local police and intelligence agencies arrested or killed key members. Military force has rarely been the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory. This has significant implications for dealing with al Qa’ida and suggests fundamentally rethinking post-September 11 U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

So, increasing the amount of soldiers, death and destruction in Afghanistan is exactly the wrong way to fight the terrorism we supposedly are trying to eliminate. Yet the opposite is happening, and both major parties seem to favor this wrong approach. In addition, there has been a barrage of articles lately explaining how increasing the violence in Afghanistan is wrong and might even make things worse, despite the political and media concensus. The following is from one of the most recent articles, from
" . . the Taliban government did not attack the United States. Our old ally, Osama bin Laden, did. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are not the same organization (if one can really call al-Qaeda an "organization"), and no one seems to be listening to the Afghans. We should be.

A recent poll of Afghan sentiment found that, while the majority dislikes the Taliban, 74% want negotiations and 54% would support a coalition government that included the Taliban.

. . . . the Taliban appears to be evolving from a creation of the U.S., Saudi Arabian, and Pakistani intelligence agencies during Afghanistan's war with the Soviet Union, to a polyglot collection of dedicated Islamists to nationalists. Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar told the Agence France Presse early this year, "We're fighting to free our country. We are not a threat to the world."

As our air and ground attacks increase, so do civilian deaths. We are not winning "hearts and minds" as this terrible outcome increases.

"As the United States steps up its air war, civilian casualties have climbed steadily over the past two years. Nearly 700 were killed in the first three months of 2008, a major increase over last year. In a recent incident, 47 members of a wedding party were killed in Helmand Province. In a society where clan, tribe, and blood feuds are a part of daily life, that single act sowed a generation of enmity."

It's hard to see any reason to continue this fiasco when things are just going from bad to worse and there is no progress being made. Let's hope our political candidates don't really mean what they are saying on this subject. To increase something disastrous only increases the disaster.

Read more of the article here.