Big Mistake

A recent Yahoo News story underscores the stupidity of undertaking a military operation in Afghanistan:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — Militants killed six Americans, including a young female diplomat, and an Afghan doctor Saturday in a pair of attacks in Afghanistan on Saturday. It was the deadliest day for the United States in the war in eight months.

The violence — hours after the U.S. military’s top officer arrived for consultations with Afghan and U.S.-led coalition officials — illustrates the instability plaguing the nation as foreign forces work to pull nearly all their combat troops out of the country by the end of 2014.

The current plan is to withdraw the vast majority of the 66,000 U.S. troops leaving a few thousand to train Afghan troops who are then supposed to restrain the insurgents. So far the plan doesn’t seem to be working very well as this latest incident attests. The female diplomat mentioned above was on her way to a school to deliver some books the teachers needed for their classes. As this incident suggests, our entire involvement in Afghanistan has been one bloody mistake after another.

Our initial involvement in Afghanistan was part of George W Bush’s plan to democratize that part of the world and, of course, to gain control of the oil fields in Iraq. When Barack Obama won the presidency for the first time George McGovern, who had a PhD in history from Northwestern, warned Obama not to get further involved in that country. It is a hornet’s nest and has been for centuries. It brought the Soviet Union to its knees and many think it was largely responsible for issuing the death-blow to what was left of the British Empire. The country has a history of internecine unrest and tribal hatred and the latest chapter, written by the Taliban, is simply one of many that can be read over the graves of thousands of dead.

McGovern knew whereof he spoke and Obama made a huge mistake to ignore him and ratchet up the war in an effort to bring stability to such a volatile country.  We learn that every day to our chagrin. Obama seems to take the advice of his military advisers far too seriously. We should never have gotten ourselves  involved in the first place and every American death can be chalked up to the stupidity of those who think there can be military victories any more and that they can determine the way the rest of the world lives.

This may strike the careful reader as inconsistent thinking on my part. After all, I am the champion of ethical judgment across cultural boundaries. I have insisted in a number of past blogs that it is our responsibility as moral agents to be aware of what is going on around us and to refuse to stop thinking at national borders when we become aware that wrong is being done. And clearly a great deal of wrong is being done in Afghanistan where women, for example, are treated like chattel and people have little or no self-determination. But it is one thing to judge this to be wrong and quite another to send in troops that will simply exacerbate an already volatile situation. It is one thing to judge an action to be wrong and it is quite another to act to bring about change in a situation that history has taught us simply doesn’t want things to be any different from they have been for as long as anyone can remember. Indeed, it is one thing to think and quite another to act: thinking should always take place; action is frequently ill-advised as careful thought will attest.

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6 thoughts on “Big Mistake

  1. Mr. C…your comments created shivers. What immediately came to mind was: the senseless slaughter of British troops by their own commanders during WWI. The military decisions being made today appear to be a rerun of those same arbitrary orders that sent hundreds of thousands to early graves. I do question the veracity of our own military commander intelligence, but my greatest fear? Is this blue-print of disconnect and willy-nilly decision making by our own people in charge…as before…being made primarily because “we can”…with no other reasoning, common sense or historical information taken into account? The US military decision making turnip truck just rounded the corner…again.

    I haven’t explained myself very well. I do apologise.

    • No, your point is quite clear. The monkeys in uniform are in control of the bus and determined to keep the pedal down and see what happens. Eisenhower warned us about the military and Washington did so as well. They knew whereof they spoke!

  2. We never should have been in Iraq nor Afghanistan. This was a rerun of VietNam, where huge egos in secure armchairs in Washington spoke loudly, carried big sticks, and risked millions of others lives, never their own, never their families. This latest blunder can be laid directly at Obama’s feet, and his waffling over getting out of both countries. Why anyone would listen to military leaders, who have a self serving interest to keep wars going, is beyond me.

    And I agree, moral leadership does not have to equate to boots on the ground everywhere around the world.

  3. The US was very arrogant that we could have a different outcome in Afghanistan than others have had in history. Also, Obama’s predecessor had Bin Laden in his sights early on and let him get away when he let the Afghans go after him. This thing could have ended ten years ago, if we got our target. Plus, we go into Iraq under false pretenses, again with equal parts Jingoism and arrogance, and we go in with too few troops/ equipment and fire the police force to create even more instability. This is where much of my ire lies, as if you are going to expose Americans, make sure you protect their back. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld did not do this and more Americans, Iraqis and Afhganis died than should have. People try to rewrite history, but you cannot ignore what these three did.

    Two points that need to be mentioned as noted by people who have been on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq is still standing as a separate country. That in and of itself is an accomplishment. There are good things going on in Afghanistan which are not newsworthy, so there is a negative bias in the reporting. With all of that said, we have invested greatly in an area where the cost is far greater than expected in lives, dollars and reputation. Our influence over the Middle East is weakened greatly because of our inability to understand what we got ourselves into. So, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it was not worth the cost.

    • “War is too important to be left to the generals.” Somehow JFK knew that and Obama doesn’t. I wonder why.

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