Why are U.S. troops still in Afghanistan? Can anybody come up with a coherent, logical and pragmatic reason? I can’t. All I know is that the longer they stay, the more we’re turning former allies into enemies.
Early Saturday morning, U.S. forces killed 28 Pakistani soldiers, but that’s about as far as agreement goes on what happened. The Pakistani government claims the attack was unwarranted and unprovoked. An unidentified western official claims the attack on the Pakistanis was self-defense. In the meantime, Pakistanis are in the streets protesting, as you see above. I don’t know who’s right. We’ll probably never know the facts. Either way, though, we’re managing to turn millions and millions of people against us. Isn’t it time to declare the mission over and pull out?
The stated purposed for invading Afghanistan was to destroy terrorist training facilities in the country and to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. Well, bin Laden is dead and we’ve destroyed the facilities that concerned us. We’re not going to accomplish anything else, contrary to the bluster of various politicians about completing the mission.
Afghanistan has been a graveyard for conquerors for a long time. Britain conquered the place in the 19th century, but the Afghans refused to stay conquered. (In one remarkable episode, 16,000 people — both British soldiers and civilians — were killed in 1842. Only one man survived to tell what happened to the British forces.) More recently, the Russians invaded the country in 1979 and then spent nine years trying to keep control. It was a defeat that many people have considered the Soviet Union’s version of our Vietnam War.
Close to 2,000 Americans have been killed fighting in Afghanistan. Close to a thousand troops from various countries allied with the United States have died, too. Countless Afghans have died. And for what? There’s a weak government set up that’s supposedly allied with the United States, but just a few weeks ago, the Afghan president told Pakistani media that his country would side with Pakistan in the event that Pakistan and the United States clashed.
So what’s the purpose of still being there? More Americans continue to die. More Afghans continue to die. And now U.S. forces are killing Pakistanis — making more enemies in a country of 177 million Muslims, many of whom already believe the United States is engaged in a war against their religion. So even if you’re all for a muscular military that intervenes around the world — which I’m not — what good do you think it’s achieving?
Afghanistan is going to be an unstable basket case whether U.S. troops stay there or not, but there’s no logical reason to continue expending money and lives on an ill-defined mission that costs the lives of many innocent people and creates more enemies to hate us. Even if it was once justified to invade the country, that time is long past. Leave Afghanistan to the Afghans to fight over. There’s no reason for our involvement there.
It’s time to declare an end to the war and bring all the troops home — before we make even more enemies to come looking for us over here.