Daytona Beach News-Journal
Dec 2, 2009
I don't understand exactly what the American goal is in Afghanistan. Eliminate Al Qaeda and bin Laden? Prop up the Karzai government? Rebuild the country? Guarantee women's rights? Stop the opium trade?
For one thing, bin Laden may not even be in Afghanistan right now. The geography creates a porous border, wherever there actually IS a border anyone recognizes. Anyone other than an Afghani stands out like a sore thumb, and terrorists can always find support, and hide, among the natives. The Karzai government is part of the problem, not the solution. Rebuild the country as What? The 52nd state of America, complete with McDonalds'? The Afghanis don't want to be democratized, or Americanized. They've got a lot of customs that we think are barbarous, but they have always lived that way, and want to continue to do so. Tribal systems and modern democracy are really quite antithetical.
Afghani men want to continue to have absolute control over their women and families. Their religion backs this. America is fooling itself if it thinks it can change this in any appreciable degree. The opium trade pays better than any other cash crop; until it becomes more lucrative NOT to grow it, it will continue, and the cost to the US taxpayer if that were to happen would be immense [and would have to continue indefinitely, or the farmers would just go back to growing opium.
Pakistan is very ambivalent, and cannot be regarded as a partner of the Americans. If fighting can be suppressed in Afghanistan, the Taliban and other terrorists will just go over the border [indeed, they're doing it now] and return to Afghanistan when the heat is off.
The Russians and the British can testify to the fact that there cannot be any real victory in Afghanistan. The most the US can hope for is to quarantine it like a malignant disease, until the entire face of radical Islam changes, and, for that, I'm not holding my breath.