I went through and read the transcript of President Obama's Afghanistan/Pakistan speech.
And my thoughts on the matter are still unchanged. But I'm going to go through the speech and detail why, just to be objective and all that.
"Many people in the United States and many in partner country that have sacrifices so much have a simple question. What is our purpose in Afghanistan?"
Really? You're just now noticing that is a question? Hmm. What was your first clue? The upswell of public opinion on the polls?
The fact of the matter is that we have no purpose, despite his professed reasons- which sound eerily like something out of the Bush administration. Say hello, once again, to the Bushama Administration.
"Al Qaida and its allies, the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks are in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
Oh. I see now. And it makes so much sense to attack an entire country just to get at a few underground people who are hidden where you'll never find them. Ah, but he already knows that:
"They have used this mountainous terrain as a safe haven to hide, to train terrorists, and communicate with followers, to plot attacks, and to send fighters to support the insurgency in Afghanistan."
Ah. So we're going to fight not one, not two, but three senseless wars on the basis of the fact that these men are...hidden? Uh-huh. I see how this makes sense. We're going to throw our entire army at an underground organization that we will probably never track down.
I say we will never track them down because we haven't yet. We've managed to get what, five of the men who actually knew a single thing beyond "Oh yeah, we were gonna' blow up a building." Yeah, our track record is impressively amazing.
Let's see- Osama bin Laden was first put on the FBI's Most Wanted List in 1998 or thereabouts. Al Qaeda was formed in 1988. That means we have had almost twenty years to catch he or his organization leaders. Twenty years. Twenty years in which we fought four years and wasted lots of time- oh, and we launched some cruise missiles at where we thought bin Laden might be.
Also, one bit of trivia that never ceases to amaze me- we helped the Afghanis get weapons. In fact, we gave them weapons. During the 80s', when the Soviets were locked in a war with the Afghanis for control of their country, we gave the Mujahideen weapons and money. Bin Laden benefited from this in a rather round-about way, by joining a man named Abdullah Azzam in Afghanistan- who was a Mujahideen.
Bin Laden and Azzam created the splinter group Maktab al-Khidamat- which, in the long run, only trained 100 mujahidin and only funneled $2 mil to the Afghan Mujahideen. Al Qaeda rose out of Maktab al-Khidamat. During the Afghan-Soviet war, the US and bin Laden were basically working together, in the common pursuit of getting rid of the Soviet threat.
The Taliban also rose out of the Mujahideen- they replaced the constant fighting of the Mujahideen, with some sort of stability and order. This gave them great popularity amongst ordinary Afghans. And the Taliban also took advantage of the weapons we channeled to Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war. We created the monster we all hate now.
"But this is not simply an American problem, far from it."
I didn't know Afghanistan was an American problem. Or maybe it is- since we created it, we should fix it....despite the fact the Afghanis didn't want us to fix it. They're tired of us being there, tired of us destroying their way of life, and they just want us to leave.
Neither is Pakistan our problem. Bin Laden may or may not be our problem, but a full-scale invasion of a sovereign country is not the answer.
"For the Afghan people, the return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people, especially, women and girls."
And that works for them. Just like having Saddam worked for the Iraqis. What, are we the International Meanness Police now too?
We have enough problems here at home. Like our economy. This constant warfare is killing us. It is killing our economy, it is killing our military, and it is slowly and surely killing our country. We cannot maintain this steady rate of warfare and conflict without serious consequences.
"A return in force of Al Qaida terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence."
Perhaps President Obama should study his history. Before the Taliban took control, there was constant in-fighting between the Mujahideen. After the Soviets left, the Mujahideen aimlessly turned on each other. The Taliban conquered them. Too bad for the Mujahideen.
And the Taliban brought stability to the region. They established a steady government that worked for them. True, they were a bit kooky and some weird rules (according to us) but it worked for them.
"We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future."
Oh really. So we're just there to....ruin their infrastructure...and kill their people...and destroy their government....and stay there forever...and....dictate...what they can do.
Not the same thing at all.
"We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the United States, our friends, and our allies and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists."
President Obama has a mistaken idea of what terrorism- and terrorists- are. Terrorism is a tactic. Terrorists are the people that use the tactic. In this case, they are Muslim extremists. We cannot 'confront' the terrorists, for the simple reason that a) we have absolutely no idea where they are, b) they won't let us know where they are, and c) did I mention we don't know where they are?
Once again- the decision about their regime is the Afghani peoples'. Yes, the Taliban had quite a hold. But the Afghani people have proven time and time again that they can conquer despite a stronger enemy. If they truly wanted out from under the Taliban, I have no doubt they would do something about it.
They do not need our help for their freedom- especially not so we can impose our idea of what freedom is.
"So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to prevent their return to either country in the future."
Ah yes. And how do you plan to do this again, Mr. President?
I guess he shares the mistaken ideas of his predecessor- if we tear up enough roads, kill enough civilians, and dismantle enough regimes, bin Laden will hand himself to us on a silver platter.
Sorry, but I don't think it works that way. Bin Laden has proven that our meddling merely makes his resolve stronger. The more innocent civilians we kill, the more territory of theirs we take over, the more Muslims come around to his way of thinking and join him. We cannot fight a radical ideology with guns and troops.
And maybe, just maybe, the man has a point. Even Hitler had some sort of logic under his depraved, mentally unstable ravings. Bin Laden's point is simple- Americans are inhabiting their countries. We need to leave.
I do not agree with his way of trying to get us to see that. But I definitely agree with his point. We are meddling way too much in the politics and dynamics of that region. We need to stop while we're ahead. And by stop, I mean cease and desist completely. Not leave a few half-hearted squads of soldiers to guard their state secrets, not leave advisors there to continue telling their new regime what to do.
"And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same. We will defeat you."
Keep saying that. If you say it often enough, it might come true!
That we will defeat the terrorists has been the mantra for the past eight years. Guess what. The terrorists are still at large, and there is no indication that our inept intelligence services and our futiley struggling army will be able to catch them any time soon.
"To achieve our goals, we need a stronger, smarter, and comprehensive strategy."
I have one for you- leave the people alone! After all, the strongest way we can make these people see that we mean them no harm is by showing that we trust them to make their own decisions.
Ah but yes...they're just like the average American- too dumb to know what's best for them.
"To enhance the military, governance, and economic capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have to marshal international support."
That might be difficult to do. Especially in light of the fact that Britain isn't all that keen on the way they got into Iraq....I doubt they'll be feeling too eager to jump head-first into yet more conflicts.
"And to defeat an enemy that heeds no border or laws of war, we must recognize the fundamental connection between the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan..."
If they heed no borders, then we cannot fight them in the conventional sense of the word. They don't have borders. They don't recognize borders. They spread like a disease. There are terrorists everywhere- there are even terrorists here in the US!
The fact of the matter is that we cannot pinpoint where the terrorists are. They could be anywhere in the Middle East, in North Africa, East Africa...practically anywhere in the world. It is impossible to fight them with conventional means.
"Al Qaida and other violent extremists have killed several thousand Pakistanis since 9/11. They've killed many Pakistani soldiers and police. They assassinated Benazir Bhutto. They've blown up buildings, derailed foreign investment, and threatened the stability of the state."
And what are we going to do?
We're going to go in like we went into Afghanistan and Iraq, kill hundreds of thousands of their citizens, destroy their infrastructure, take over their government...and when we get down to it, the terrorists will be long gone.
Look out for Part II.