After over 10 years of war and occupation in Afghanistan, what do we really have to show for it? Over 1900 of our soldiers killed far from home in a dry, dusty, and inhospitable country. And countless others missing limbs, suffering from concussions, or coming home with PTSD. All for the stated goal of keeping the Taliban from returning to power and thereby making Afghanistan a haven for terrorists again. But the Taliban is just waiting us out across the border in Pakistan.
It is time for us to leave Afghanistan. That country is like a giant hamburger grinder that chews up invaders and spits them out in a raw, aching pile of hurt. Those mountain tribesmen with their AK-47’s kicked Russia’s ass pretty good, and Russia had a giant military machine and lived right next door. We have been trying to wage war from the other side of the planet, at the cost of half a billion dollars so far. It’s time we faced the fact that the Taliban is going to return eventually, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We can bomb them, take out their leaders, or try to buy them off, but they will keep swarming back like ants at a picnic.
The Afghans are still by and large a primitive people who don’t really recognize the concept of a central government. Trying to impose a western-style representative democracy is doomed to failure, and we just look like chumps for propping up the corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai and his cronies.
Sure, my heart aches for the misery of Afghan women, knowing that the U.S. presence there has allowed some of them to emerge from the middle ages and become educated, get better health care, and even in some instances serve in the government. But even so, hundreds of Afghan women are murdered by their husbands or families in so-called “honor killings” each year. Dozens are horribly mutilated in acid attacks by men who are rarely prosecuted for their crimes. And selling of young girls as child brides is still common, especially in rural areas. The reaction of Afghan men to the plight of abused women seems to be, “Oh, well. These things happen sometimes.”
But last week, some U.S. personnel were burning trash, and by mistake burned some Islamic holy books that had been confiscated from prisoners. When they burn a young girl’s face with acid, no problem, but if we inadvertently incinerate some words printed on paper? Outrage!
The news caused the streets to fill with angry rioters, marauding and killing, and some Americans were murdered by Afghans that they worked along side and trusted. Apologies from our military and even President Obama did no good, and one young Afghan man I saw on the news last night said, “We just want the Americans out of Afghanistan!”
So be it. Obama should order every last soldier and advisor to pack up and come home. Afghanistan will go back to the stone age again, but no one will be able to tell the difference. If they start hosting Al Qaeda again, we can send in some bombers to blow them up every once in a while. But yesterday, Ambassador Ryan Crocker said, “This is not the time to decide that we’re done here. We have got to redouble our efforts.” Yeah, that’s right, start digging that hole twice as fast.
It makes me ill to think of all the money that has been wasted in these futile wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which, when you add to the direct costs the future cost of caring for wounded soldiers, is estimated to end up being close to 4 trillion dollars.
That is a figure so large, I can’t even imagine how big a pile of cash it would make.
But it sure would have put a lot of food in hungry people’s mouths, fixed our crumbling infrastructure, and paid for a lot of health care for Americans.