I’ve been sitting on this Afghanistan post (and perhaps a series of posts) for a few weeks, and Veterans Day seems like the right time to get it off my chest and onto your computer screen. The post contains a number of video links that I think are worth your time, so grab some popcorn and dive in. (If you’re impatient and agree that escalation isn’t the answer, register your sentiment with this petition to President Obama now).

I don’t think an escalation of troops is a good idea, and I’m hoping against all likelihood that the president comes to this same conclusion before he gets his administration and more of our servicemen and women tied up in an expensive, dangerous and unwinnable occupation.

Before I get too far, it’s important for folks to remember that candidate Obama promised us more war in Afghanistan. The 2008 election season seems like a long time ago, but almost unanimously, the Democratic field of candidates agreed that Iraq was a mistake, and Afghanistan is where Bush should have sent our war machine. In the long laundry list of “failures” and “disappointments” from some progressives, Afghanistan usually makes the list, but I’ll say it again, many of us campaigned for and America voted for more war in Afghanistan. Today, President Obama is being more deliberate about the process, and I’m glad for it.

Here’s a sampling of the case made against escalation by veterans. It’s part of Brave New Foundation’s Rethink Afghanistan initiative:

So, big deal. You can probably find a handful of veterans who believe anything you’re trying to say, and just because you fought in a war, doesn’t qualify you to determine war policy (ahem, thinking of you Senator Mccain). But that’s not all. The cost of our occupation of Afghanistan is estimated at $2 billion per month.

As I recall, we’re having arguments in this country about record-setting unemployment, and some are freaking out over the projected cost of health care reform in the hundreds of billions over 10 years. Two billion dollars a month is real money, and I bet very few members of Congress would demand that such spending be fully accounted for and offset by cuts in other programs as they are demanding for health care and stimulus spending (ahem, thinking of you Senator Coburn).

So here’s a short clip about the cost of this occupation:

And here’s a short clip on how our presence in Afghanistan actually serves to destabilize Pakistan. The separation of the two countries is difficult to see in practice, especially in the mountainous border regions. Those advocating for more troops should at least understand more about this dynamic:

Finally, here’s a full segment on just why this occupation is unwinnable (11 minutes). As if the experience of the British and the Russians weren’t enough, we don’t seem to have a clear definition of what victory would even look like. Al Qaeda, such as it is, is barely present, and if we’re really about the business of helping establish a stable, Western-style, democratic society, that’s an even more expensive and long-term proposition which is seriously undermined by our habit of blowing up civilians.

All signs point to some sort of significant escalation. Those who surround the president want it, whether 40,000 or 20,000. I’m increasingly convinced, however, that this narrow range of options misses the real path we should be considering and pursuing: getting out. We can maintain targeted attacks on what remains of Al Qaeda. If we truly want the civilians to have a better life, few things could assist in that mission more than our exit. Our presence creates more resentment and probably more terrorists. We could even look at projects designed to create economic incentives for citizens to rebuild rather than join up with militias. Yep, “market forces,” that thing we love so much at home, just might help us leave our expensive, dangerous and unwinnable quagmire-in-progress abroad.

If you agree, sign this petition to President Obama now.

Related Posts with Thumbnails