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Ten Reasons Why the United States Should Get Out of Afghanistan

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The United States lost about 45,000 soldiers in Korea in the early 1950s. Had we stayed out of that conflict, the two Koreas might very well have united and evolved into a modern state as China has done over the years. Of course, they might not have developed the kind of government we like to see, but could it be worse than what we have there now? Maintaining military bases there for almost sixty years has cost us billions of dollars and earned the hatred of many Koreans.

Some twenty-five years later, during our long Vietnam adventure, we saw about 58,000 of our soldiers lost, and we managed to kill about five million Vietnamese, both soldiers and civilians. After our disastrous failure, the north and south united, and today Vietnam is an important trading partner, a member in good standing of the international community.

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We will build up our troops, spend billions propping up a weak government, suffer a long list of casualties, kill thousands of civilians, and eventually be forced out.
In Iraq we have lost more than four thousand soldiers, and many thousands more have been severely wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead. For what the Iraq war will cost us in dollars we could probably have bought all the oil that country could produce for years to come.

Now we seem about to do it all over again in Afghanistan. After a good beginning with a clear focus in Afghanistan, we lost our gains during Bush's invasion of Iraq. Now Obama wants to renew our troop build up in Afghanistan. We will build up our troops, spend billions propping up a weak government, suffer a long list of casualties, kill thousands of civilians, and eventually be forced out. Will this time be different? Will we be able to do what the Greeks, the Islamic Moghules, England, Russia, and other empires could not do? The persistent English lost three wars in Afghanistan. Since the earliest of times what we call Afghanistan has soaked up the blood and treasure of one invader after the other. Now it seems to be our turn.

Here are ten reasons why we should quit now and save years of blood, sweat, civilian protests, tears, and treasure. I really can't say which of these reasons is most important, so ranking them is up to the reader who, I'm sure, could think of even more reasons why we should re-think our role in the world.

1. They don't want us there. Basically, it is not nice to occupy other countries that have not attacked us. Forcing our standards and economic desires on other countries is immoral and destructive. It's a wonderful way to make enemies. All we wanted in the beginning was a few radical terrorists, not another colony.

2. We can't win there. The Afghanistan tribes are what they are and what they have been for many centuries: wildly independent, autocratic, and hostile to outsiders. We would do better by bringing some of the brightest to study in the United States. We would do better with diplomacy and commerce rather than military efforts.

3. There is nothing to win there. If we want Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, we will have to send in special forces to fight a cave war, and the complications of a real war are enormous. It might mean Pakistan would resist us. Pakistan, of course, could find these terrorists easily, but they really don't seem to be motivated in spite of the billions of dollars we send them every year.

4. We can't afford it. Few Americans understand that we are the largest debtor nation in the world, that we would have to borrow even more billions of dollars from China and other countries to continue the war.

5. The only way in or out is by air. At least the Russians, who were forced out of Afghanistan, had a border and could simply drive over to invade the country. All the supplies and every person we send there must go by air, a supply route that is expensive and vulnerable.

6. There is no military solution. If we could deploy a sophisticated spy network into Afghanistan it would help find our real enemies, but we seem to be stuck with remote control aircraft and a military technology unsuited to the mission. For us to send enough troops to occupy and control a country of this size is simply impossible.

7. We can't fix their broken country; that's something they would have to do, Are we there to build schools, roads, hospitals, and bridges? Those hopes and promises went unfulfilled in Iraq. We don't even seem willing to do these things here at home for ourselves.

8. We can't develop their mineral resources, they will have to do it themselves. Afghanistan is rich in mineral resources. If we offered to buy them once they are developed, that might be motivation enough to get them going. There was talk of a great oil pipeline to bring oil from the countries north of Afghanistan. It would run hundreds of miles through that country, then through Pakistan to the sea. Is oil the real reason Obama wants to fire up the Afghanistan war? Is more oil really what America needs now?

9. The present government is not a representative democracy. The Kabul government was made in America and is nothing like American democracy. Why not let them evolve the kind of government that is more natural to their culture?

10. The more we insert ourselves into the area the more terrorists we make. As they say, there were no terrorists in Iraq before we invaded, but there are now.

So, do Americans really know why we are in Afghanistan? Are we there for oil, to stamp out opium cultivation, to bring American style democracy to a people who didn't ask for it, to modernize the country, to improve the way they treat their women, to get revenge against Al-Qaeda, to cultivate an economy that would be a good trading partner, or what?
None of these are best achieved with military conquest.

Time for me, I think, to dust off that old protest pin from the Vietnam era, the one I wore in the 1960s and again during Iraq war protests. "OUT NOW!"

(Julian I. Taber, Ph.D. is author of Addictions Anonymous: Outgrowing Addiction with a Universal, Secular Program of Self-Development: ISBN 978-1-60145-647-2, or go to: http://www.booklocker.com/books/3717.html)


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