Friday, October 7, 2011

10th anniversary of Afghan war means it is time to come home ... before it is too late

As we begin this last quarter of 2011, our country marks another somber milestone, the 10th anniversary of our war in Afghanistan.

For our troops it will be business as usual, for our military personnel are operating as they have for the past two-and-a-half centuries. They fight whomever they are told to fight, and they do so in a manner which does credit to themselves and to our country.

As we mark this anniversary, it is time to step back and take a look at what we have gained. No doubt, our world is safer now than ten years ago, at least from some aspects.

I am bothered by the stories I see, and read, about the Afghan people. My take is that they really do not want us there in the first place. 

This seems to be not much different than the war the Russians fought on that same ground. I see shades of Viet Nam. The French fought, and lost, their war in Viet Nam some years before we arrived on the scene.

We are in danger of allowing history to repeat itself. The war in Afghanistan runs the same risk as Viet Nam. The minute that American troops cease to be in the front lines, taking an active part in the fighting, the Afghan army will fold and war lords will again seize control of the ground that our troops fought, and died, to win. We will, once again, have spent more than a decade fighting and dying for … nothing.

Yes, we are fighting for human rights, too. No one wants to see the brutality that goes on in many other areas of the world. The question becomes, “Is it really any of our business?”

America has, since the post-Civil War era, considered itself the watchdog of the world. The problem seems to be though, that we think that our ways are always the best. This trait was not formed in America, it was brought across the seas from our European forefathers, but once on American soil, we sure perfected it.

Look at our ancestor’s attitude toward the American Indian tribes. Rather than even attempt to live with them, we just decided force them to live by our rules, in the tiny corners of the country that we were “kind” enough to grant to them. What gave us the right then? There were more of us and we were better armed. But, were we better people for it? 

Along the way, we also fought for some legitimate and noble causes, primarily in the two World Wars.

By and large, though, the majority of our wars have had serious political undercurrents. Afghanistan is no different. One has only to look at President Obama’s timeline for troop withdrawal. Do you think it coincidence that the bulk of American troops are scheduled to come home two months before the 2012 presidential elections? It is not just Obama. Politicians have been using our military as pawns for years.

Our political leaders’ single biggest mistake in wars is in not fighting to win. Sure, there are political implications with bringing in additional troops or taking a certain piece of ground. But we owe it to our troops to fight to win, rather than feeding them piece-meal into a grinder.

During the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur said, “There is no substitute for victory.” This American hero and Medal of Honor holder was relieved of duty shortly thereafter. The American political machine did not listen then and they still are not listening.

It is time for America to get out of the Middle East. It is time for Americans to live and let live. We must stop trying to force our way of life on others. I wonder if it ever occurred to our leaders that “they” would leave us alone if we would only leave “them” alone.

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