By GENE H. McINTYRE
After 15 years of trying the same strategies and tactics to defeat the Taliban, would it not seem high time that something new is tried? Reference is made to our ongoing, apparently interminable military-on-the-ground presence in Afghanistan where draining the U.S. treasury and losing many young American lives goes on year-in and year-out to what’s now recognized as a protracted stalemate with neither side in the win column. This condition of futility goes for Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, too.
We went into Afghanistan for what was argued a good reason after 9/11, when the origin of that dastardly attack was determined to be al-Queda training camps located there. The U.S. intent also was to exterminate the Taliban. What began as an effort to exact revenge for killing thousands of Americans in New York City and Washington, D.C., and prevent a repeat, has turned into a war without victory for us and no end to resurgent activity by a deeply dedicated, and extremist-entrenched terrorist movement .
Now, American media report that there’s serious thought being given to increasing the number of U.S. military trying to end the Taliban, U.S. military numbers having waxed and waned to a present several thousand (8,400) with several thousand more under consideration. Yet, the average taxpayer and the peace-loving American, with a heavy heart and moral conscience, wonders what, for heaven’s sake, is to be gained with the same performance repeated again and again.
Should U.S. numbers and accompanying NATO forces (13,500) leave Afghanistan, would those resurgent elements not turn from the fighting there to plot and scheme again, acts of violence in America and throughout Europe? The answer is most likely, yes. Nevertheless, a withdrawal by the U.S. and NATO would most surely be less expensive in most every way than the slippery slope of more-involvement-is-better U.S. actions now practiced in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, technology in abundance has been developed by sophisticated spy satellites, drone-carrying cameras and CIA informants to maintain surveillance on what those people are up to. So, what’s keeping us from approaching the Afghan problem this way? Once we’re gone, and NATO, too, keep a sky-eye on them and destroy activities that are judged by photo-analysis to be preparing to attack the U.S. and our allies.
As usual, this plan of surveillance-and-destroy accordingly presents a ‘fly in the soup’ of war. There’s a huge military-industrial complex in our nation that makes monumentally large profits by building armaments and all the doodads that go to putting an army into the field and keeping it supplied with every possible support. Then there are those politicians and military personnel who keep themselves safe and entrenched in Washington, D.C. by supporting and beating the war drums so we can remain “safe.”
We could do much, much better at the ways and means we manage our human and material resources for national defense. However, as long as a majority of the American people are willing to let those who keep us warring-by-feet-on-the-ground in Afghanistan and the like, even those who campaign against it when running for public office (remember what current Oval Office occupant repeatedly promised and his comments about Iraq before we invaded) while soon thereafter reveal their real intentions and thereby provide no light at the end of this tunnel.
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)