Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's been said before and it'll be said again: we need to use the same criteria for examining the Afghan war that we used for Iraq

I mean, we have to start asking just why we're there, what the point of being there is, and why was this started in the first place. What are the objectives? There don't appear to be any, short of a vague "defeat the Taliban" urge. And why do we want to do that? The Taliban aren't nice people, but the reason we're in Afghanistan is that we blamed the Afghan state as a whole for 9/11 because the Taliban let Al Qaeda establish a base and training grounds there. This was a sort of collective punishment that was, in my opinion, illegal although the U.S. used all its power in the UN to strong arm a resolution approving of it. The thing we should have done after 9/11 is to initiate an international police action in order to specifically catch the people who were responsible for 9/11 and bring them to an accepted international court for justice. Unfortunately, among other things, the U.S. had protested the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands as being too lenient, because it wasn't a puppet of U.S. style conservatism, so some kind of international justice was out of the picture. The Taliban themselves recognized that the U.S. was being hypocritical on the subject of bringing Al Qaeda to justice: one of the pre-invasion communications with the Taliban featured them offering to extradite Osama bin Laden to the U.S. if the U.S. government would provide them with evidence that bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks. This was a reasonable request that we'll never know was sincere or not; the U.S. argued that giving basic evidence against bin Laden would compromise national security and so refused. Meanwhile, an investigation was going on in Germany, where most of the hijackers had spent significant amounts of time, that was largely ignored in the U.S. although a book based on reporting done in "Der Spiegal" by eventually issued in English and is still widely available.

In my opinion, all of this adds up to the invasion of Afghanistan being a pointless exercise that as of now needs to be stopped. Motivations like the possibility of a natural gas pipeline that could have connected the Caspian Sea region with the west, and which Hamid Karzai was directly involved in, need to be examined once again. The invasion of Afghanistan was the product of Bush's fevered mind and needs to end as soon as possible.

We cannot ensure that the Taliban will not come back to power in Afghanistan, any more than we could assure that radical Shi'ites would not come to power in Iraq. We have no business dictating to the Afghan people what is or is not acceptable. If Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, so be it. It's not our problem. There is no victory possible, only defeat now by withdrawing or defeat later by withdrawing after more cold bodies have been produced.

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