Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Most Americans can't learn from past mistakes

A headline caught my eye this morning. It was from the Associated Free Press' reporting on a recent survey that found that "Most Americans see Afghan fight worth US bloodshed". This seemed a little surprising to me as you would think that since most Americans finally have the grey matter to realize that invading Iraq, killing more than a million Iraqis, spending trillions of dollars, and losing thousands of American and coalition lives was a mistake, they would also be able to see what a boondoggle the mission in Afghanistan is.

Upon further reading of the poll, it becomes more clear why the results are what they are. The question wasn't really "is the Afghan fight worth more US bloodshed" but was in fact asked how many "are willing to have American soldiers 'fight and possibly die' to eliminate the threat of terrorists operating from Afghanistan." To the passerby this might seem like the same thing, but I bet if the question were rephrased to something more likely, such as how many "are willing to have American soldiers 'fight and possibly die' to keep trying to eliminate the threat of terrorists operating from Afghanistan without any certainty of victory" we'd probably have some very different survey results.

Even as someone opposed to the Afghan mission long before it was such a cool thing to do, I might say sure, if you can promise me total victory in Afghanistan (flourishing democracy, no terrorism, no insurgency, no violence against women, no more poverty, 711s, Wa-was, and Tim Horton's on every street corner) then maybe it's worth some American lives. For all the above mentioned items I might even say it's worth 500,000 American and coalition lives. But that's not what's going to happen. Not even close.

Instead, we are going to see another 10-20,000 NATO soldiers killed over the next decade or so as President Obama foolishly takes ownership of one of W's hubris inspired military blunders and submits to the never ending requests for supplemental troops, equipment, and money that will be required to sustain (not win) the conflict in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the hawks back home will lament our deficits in explaining why we cannot have universal healthcare or decent educational funding and they'll continue to piss away our soldiers and our treasury.

We must end the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, no matter what a cunningly worded survey question shows because at the end of the day, there can be no victory for an occupying country except withdrawal. Vietnam is a great example of this problem. Granted, Ameircan soldiers could have stayed in Vietnam for another 20 years. They could have butchered another 3 million Southeast Asians, and lost another 60,000 American soldiers. They could have pissed away trillions more dollars in bombs and upkeep, and shot a few more protesters at college campuses, but in the end, it was by leaving Vietnam that allowed that country to develop itself into the capitalism loving, wheeling and dealing people that they were always meant to be.

Perhaps Afghanistan is different, and it will descend into chaos and bloodshed if NATO forces leave, but it is doing that anyway, so why should NATO, and specifically America, play any role in contributing to that downward spiral? It's time to bring the troops home...all of them.

Fuck you McChrystal!

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