Posted by: goalpath | September 16, 2009

Will Afghanistan Be Obama’s Viet Nam?

First, let me qualify my opinion by saying that I am not a pacifist. I am a Viet Nam vet and my son served in the Marine Corps from 2000-2004 and spent some time in Iraq during his enlistment. Personally, I was against the Iraq war from the beginning because I didn’t see the connection between 9/11 and going to war with Sadam Hussein.

That said, I am very concerned that we will get into a protracted war in Afghanistan. The current situation seems similar to the Gulf War where we liberated Kuwait and let Sadam stay in power. Then we went back into Iraq a few years later and had to start the battle all over again by attempting to liberate and democratize the Iraqis. The cost of the Iraq war has been far too great in American lives and billions of taxpayer dollars to justify the outcome. I am not even sure what our objective was and I am not convinced the previous administration had a clue about a specific desired outcome.

I think our presence in Afghanistan looks a lot like the Iraq strategy. We went into Afghanistan after 9/11 and basically defeated the Taliban, and then we pulled back. We didn’t finish the job when we went there in 2002, so we decided to give it another try. Since our first push into Afghanistan, we have given the Taliban time to reorganize, strengthen their resolve, recruit and re-arm their troops and take control of several key territories. In the past year and a half we did step up on focus on trying to destroy training bases and target major al Qaeda/insurgent leaders across the border in Pakistan.

Now we are back in Afghanistan trying to defeat the Taliban and liberate its citizens again. It seems to me like we are once again trying to liberate Middle Eastern citizens (Afghanis this time) from themselves. Haven’t we learned anything from the Iraq war?  Iraq should be fresh enough in our minds for Americans not to make the same mistake twice. Apparently, our collective memory is very short.

I realize that the American Military’s mission is to defend America. And part of that  mission is to eradicate terrorists regardless of where they might be hiding. But it seems to me, that the United States has done more to recruit new terrorists for Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Middle Eastern insurgent groups by invading Middle Eastern countries than if we would have left them alone.

In his latest taped speech, Osama bin Laden said that the United States would remain an enemy of Muslims around the world as long as we continue to support Israel. I am by no means suggesting that we drop our support of Israel. I also suspect our support of Israel has been partially responsible for our involvement in these conflicts. But is that necessary? The Israelis are our allies and we should protect and defend that relationship. Liberating Afghanistan is not part of that agreement as far as I know.

I am not convinced the Afghanis want to be liberated. I believe our purposes would be better served by fighting this battle from the air using intelligence gathering and remote controlled aircraft. Incorporating this strategy we can focus our military on surgically taking out al Qaeda and the Taliban strongholds, training centers and leadership positions and leave the nation building out of the equation. Haven’t we lost enough of our brave servicemen and women to these conflicts in the last few years? Why compound the mistake by taking the same approach in Afghanistan?

  You might think that this is a gross over-simplication of a very complex issue and that I don’t have all the facts about the issues facing our military in Afghanistan. You may very well be right, but my position is that we should know exactly what we are getting into before putting our servicemen and women in harm’s way once again.

What’s your take on this topic? I am quite sure there are plenty of you out there who have strong opinions and would like to voice those opinions. You can do so on or here  on WordPress. I will be interested to hear your views. Thanks for your support.


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