Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Obama's War" in Afghanistan

PBS Frontline has an online video that is a preview of a full piece airing later this month, Obama's War. The preview is gritty, with graphic imagery and graphic language. As I watched it, it became obvious that the similarities between the Vietnam War and the Afghan War are striking.

The Viet Cong (VC) were insurgents. The Taliban are insurgents. Eventually the Vietnam War turned to "winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese". General Petraeus very recently announced his "Full Spectrum Operation", which is focused on doing the same thing relative to the Afghans. The VC largely avoided major frontal engagements with the US military; instead, they utilized sniping, ambushes, land mines, etc. The Taliban are (for the most part) doing the same thing. In Vietnam, General Westmoreland kept calling for more and more troops. The same thing (with a different General) is happening regarding Afghanistan. In Vietnam, the VC terrorized the local villagers; in Afghanistan, the Taliban are doing the same thing. The Vietnam War was long and grueling; the Afghan War is entering its NINTH year. Eventually, public opinion in the USA turned against the Vietnam War. Public opinion is finally beginning to turn against the Afghan War as well. Quite rightly, people are beginning to ask, "What is our purpose there?".

The Generals and other officers interviewed on the Frontline piece stated that our purpose in Afghanistan is now to "protect the People from the Taliban". According to those officers, that is our primary purpose. If that's the case, does anyone see this war ever ending? Another legitimate question would be: what happens when we leave the country? Or better yet, does anyone see us ever leaving Afghanistan? If we did, would not the Taliban (who unquestionably are fanatics) simply continue on in our absence?

It is my belief that the next troop increase will be substantially more than the last increase, and that the increases will continue. Essentially, we will become the Afghan Police Force, with no end in sight. On second thought, apparently we are already the Afghan Police Force.

It is long past time to get out of both Iraq AND Afghanistan. It makes no sense to believe that we can be the Police Force of the world. Even if we wanted to do that, we can't afford it.