Monday, March 12, 2012

Even When We Win We Lose

Al-Qaida sent planes into the World Trade center. The United States responded with a firestorm of bombs and an 11 year war. They've kidnapped and killed our soldiers, even some of our journalists, we've kidnapped, tortured and killed their operatives. Terry Jones burned a Quran they rioted in the streets and returned the disrespect in blood shed. Our U.S. military personnel burned a bunch of Qurans they again returned the blatant disrespect with the deaths of six American soldiers. Our Marines pissed on Taliban fighter corpses, and now one American soldier has taken it upon himself to show and prove the United States is no better than the ones we call our enemy, the axis of evil. He went off in the middle of the night and killed 16 Afghan civilians including nine children. Some of the victims were even burned. I understand this is war, as does the entire country. We've known more war in the eleven years of the war on terror then during the entire 20 years of the Vietnam War. But just because this is war does not mean the goal of eradicating islamist extremism should be won tit for tat for every crime against humanity.

It's been 11 years since the United States became way too familiar with the words Afghanistan, Taliban and al-Qaida. In that time that we've become familiar with this foreign country, who runs it, and how it operates we have also killed the head of al-Qaida and the financier of 9/11. We've detained the master mind behind 9/11, he still sits indefinitely in a cell at Guantanamo Bay. And we've killed countless number 3's and deputies in the al-Qaida and Taliban organizations yet we are still there.

A new survey from the Washington Post and ABC News finds:

"A majority of Americans — 55 percent — believe that most Afghans are opposed to what the United States is trying to accomplish in that country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. About as many Americans — 54 percent — want the U.S. military to withdraw even before it can train the Afghan army to be self-sufficient, a pillar of President Obama’s war strategy."

President Obama's war strategy aside, what can we accomplish in the next two years (2014 is the proposed draw down date) that we haven't already accomplished in the last. Furthermore, what can't we accomplish in the next two years that we haven't already accomplished in the last 11. The latter question I believe is more important that the former because then the perspective of this war changes. Instead of looking at what we can do in the vein of being a beacon of hope and change for a country that has known only despair, we need to realistically look at what we can't do to better evaluate what our goals in Afghanistan should be; outside of pulling out immediately.

What we can't do is build a nation. What we can't do is transplant democracy into a country run on extreme theocratic principles set by Sharia law of the Quran. What we can't do is end the corruption as it relates to Afghanistan's chief crop, the poppy, and the output of opium. What we can't do is stop the Taliban from organizing into a legitimate political party that still has many extreme elements not unlike the Republican party in the United States. What we can't do is force the Afghan people to accept Americans as partners in a war on their soil.

The war on terror doesn't take place in the United States. The acts of 9/11, the massacre at Fort Hood, the attempted bombing aboard a Detroit bound jet liner, and the attempted bombing of Times Square are four incidents among dozens of others that were foiled. They are four incidents of which only two were successful. Before this war on terror the last time the United States felt any war pains was in 1941 on a day that will live in infamy. So it is difficult for the United States to be empathetic to the plight of the Afghan people who have known nothing but war, be it tribal or from outside invaders, when we don't know what it is to live and work in a country being occupied and bombed for 11 years straight.

There is no way to win this war. There is no victory to be found in Afghanistan just as there was no victory to be found in the pointless occupation of Iraq. But just because we don't win doesn't necessarily mean we lose.

If we leave now, pack up all our troops, their gear, their embedded journalists (yes Richard Engel that means you) and bring them home for good then we can avoid defeat. Historians and researchers will note the complications of this war from the outset and realize there was no way to win when taking on a global threat. However, there is a way for us to lose and right now we're doing a damn good job of it.

  1. Pissing on Taliban corpses #Losing

  2. Burning Qurans #Losing

  3. Lone soldiers killing civilians #Losing

  4. Waging an 11 year war for two more years #Losing

These are all definitive ways to undoubtedly lose an unwinnable war. End goals, war strategies don't matter anymore. The United States is on a downward slide in making progress in Afghanistan.

This war was never supposed to be an all out campaign against terrorism. If so we're mad late to the party. Kony 2012 anyone. This war was about revenge and has morphed into something not nearly as attractive as one of the seven deadly sins.

With soldiers taking war into their own m4 strapped hands it is time to get out while we still have a bit of dignity otherwise we become just as petty as our opponents turning each incident that incenses U.S. into a reason to stay where we don't belong.


1. Is the soldier shooting evidence of our own troops tiring and mentally breaking because of war, thus signaling a time to retreat?
2. Is this just the way war goes?
3. How does this bode for the 2012 election.

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