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Afghanistan, Vietnam...Same ****, Different Decade


Ten years is a long time to chase ghosts through the desert.

Last week, America blew out the candles on the 10th birthday cake for the War in Afghanistan. Not a soul was in the mood for celebrating.

Well, perhaps Darth Cheney, who has never met a war he did not support enthusiastically. (Except, of course, the Vietnam War...for which he received five draft deferments. He had other priorities, but now that it's not his butt on the line, he's more than happy to sign your children up for the slaughter.)

In fact, short of the mainstream media treating the gruesome anniversary as a future Jeopardy answer, I doubt anyone would have noticed the passing of another milestone in a war that has lost all purpose, all focus, all meaning and all sense of existence. Can anyone clearly and concisely explain what the hell we are doing in Afghanistan? What is the mission? What is the purpose? Why haven't we left yet?

If the mission was to capture and/or kill Osama Bin Laden, well, congratulations. We went ahead and murdered him in May. Yes, murdered. He could have been taken captive and interrogated. Instead, we sent in Seal Team 6 and some CIA thugs to take him out.

You think that maybe the guy who led Al Qaeda for years might have some useful information somewhere in his skull? You think maybe we could have found a way to get that out of his brain, rather than drop three bullets into his skull?

But no. We're 'Murricans and we go in guns blazing, whether or not that's the right thing to do. Who knew that "Barack Obama" was Kenyan for "John Wayne"? I sure didn't. Can we now kill anyone, anywhere on the globe? YES! WE! CAN!

Either way, Bin Laden was not killed murdered in Afghanistan. He was in Pakistan, along with the rest of the Al Qaeda leadership team. We can sit in Afghanistan for another ten years, kill everyone within the borders, and we're not going to put a dent in Al Qaeda. So, if the mission is to "get Al Qaeda," well, staying in Afghanistan isn't going to help on that front, either.

Before you write this off as the rantings of a leftist (and I am, in fact, a leftist), consider this fact: According to a new research poll released Monday, "Just half of all post-9/11 veterans say that, given the costs and benefits to the U.S., the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting." Read that again. Half of the people who served in the military post-9/11, that is to say half of the people whose asses have been on the line in this war and in Iraq, believe that the efforts in Afghanistan have been worth the price THEY paid. When you add in the Iraq War, the number drops to only 34% (one-third) of servicemen and servicewomen who feel the wars were worth it.

This is astounding. It is one thing for people like me to think the war is a waste of lives and money — that's a philosophical position I take on all wars. These are soldiers and marines and sailors and airmen, all of whom served, and collectively they're against these boondoggles in the desert.

And yet, here we are, ten years later, still banging our heads against the wall of sand.

It's not like this is a new lesson. We did the same thing in Vietnam, meddling in a nation half a world away, sending troops in to fight and conquer an essentially unconquerable and ungovernable people. We lost 58,000+ young people before America wised up and pulled its last troops out of Vietnam. How many more need to die in that damn desert before we wise up and get out of there?

Sure, neoconservatives and the warmongering savages among us will say that deaths in the military are the price we pay for freedom. That might be true, if we were facing hordes of barbarians climbing over the border and attacking border towns. The military would make a wonderful tool for repelling invading armies.

But that is not the situation we find ourselves in. There are no barbarians at the gate. There is no army to conquer us, and there is no army for our troops to fight. There are ragtag clusters of scared shitless Afghanis who know nothing of 9/11, but know one thing: it was a United States bomb that killed their mother and father; it was a United States soldier who shot their son or daughter in a raid.

Do you remember how you felt on 9/11, watching those towers fall while people jumped to their deaths rather than burn alive? Imagine those people were your friends and family. Imagine it was your son, your father, who died that day.

That is how the Afghani people see us: not as liberators, but as the perpetrators of violence against their people. A poll earlier this year showed that 95 percent of Afghanis in the regions where we are fighting had never heard of 9/11. They literally have no idea why we're attacking them. How would you react, if suddenly, without reason (from your perspective) an immensely overpowering army occupied your state and started blowing things up? Imagine they killed your relatives, your friends, your children. Imagine they blew up the plant where you worked and the grocery store and just, in general, made your life miserable. Wouldn't you sign up to resist them? Wouldn't you take up a gun or a bomb and do whatever you could to repel the invading forces?

Of course you would. Yet, when the Afghanis do it, we call them terrorists...and use that as justification for staying in their country, killing their friends and family. It's a circle of violence, and it only ends when we leave.

I am tired of hearing speeches about how "war is hell" by the same Dick Cheney draft-dodgers who now, themselves protected by the twin embraces of old age and uselessness, gleefully send our youngest and bravest to die, kill and maim in lands across the globe. I am tired of having my patriotism questioned because I prefer peace to war, and a limited Republic to a world-spanning Empire.

I am tired of hearing excuses for why we can only pull out X number of troops today, and another Y number of troops next year. We could have them all home in a week. We could do it with a stroke of the President's pen, which means we could do it by dinner. And yet, we do not. The President who promised us peace, who promised to bring the troops home and end the endless wars, has failed in both regards.

Osama Bin Laden is dead. The war in Afghanistan should die with him.

You can reach the author by email or on twitter @johndthorpe. To comment on this (or any of my columns), visit my user page at Benzinga.

Posted-In: Afghanistan Barack Obama Darth Cheney warNews Movers & Shakers Politics General Best of Benzinga


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