On October 8th, The New York Times ran an article on the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. The report described a battle near the border of Pakistan. “Soon insurgents near the border were firing on four Afghan American out posts simultaneously – a coordinated barrage and assault that included dozens of 107 millimeter rockets, and at one post, a suicide truck bomber, American military officers said.”
The Times went on, “ Most of the high explosive rockets striking the outposts were fired from just inside Afghanistan, suggesting that the attack had been prepared and launched from Pakistan and the rocket crews withdrew to sanctuaries there as the Americans fired back. And the relative weakness of Afghan soldiers and police officers living and working in the American bases was equally clear…raising once more the familiar questions about how Afghan forces underwritten at tremendous expense will fare when the United States pulls back.”
Then came this description of our Afghan military allies: “While the American soldiers organized and coordinated their part of the battle on the outpost here, the Afghan soldiers did not participate. Some simply sat and watched.”
Here we are, having trained Afghan soldiers for 10 years and they remain incompetent or deliberately unwilling to fight, while Afghans who are part of the Taliban are capable soldiers contesting with the U.S. army in a professional manner. What should that tell us? Clearly, those who are part of the Karzai government don’t have their heart in this war. They want, need and accept the salaries paid by the American government, which undoubtedly are far greater than paid by the Taliban to Taliban soldiers. Is there any question as to who will prevail when we leave, if in fact we do leave? Our government does not want to ever leave. We want to stay there forever and are willing to spend the lives of our young men and women and accept continuing casualties with terrible consequences for those who survive because of their horrendous wounds. We are willing to spend $2 billion a week on continuing this, the longest war in our country’s history: a war we cannot win, because the Afghan people refuse to fight their fellow Afghans who continue to support the Taliban.
It surely is similar to the war we waged in Vietnam on the side of a corrupt South Vietnamese government against a totalitarian communist government in North Vietnam, which was cruel but not corrupt. We lost that one, and we are losing this one.
I am amazed that, unlike the Vietnam War when marches in the streets of every major city against that war ultimately caused us to end that war, there are no such marches today. Those marches culminated in our making an unceremonious, hasty exit using helicopters to fly our personnel from the American embassy in Saigon to the U.S. naval ships offshore as the communist troops swarmed into Saigon. God forbid that we should suffer such an ignominious exit again.
We are told by our government that a substantial number of troops will be coming home this year, and all of them home by the end of 2014. However, our government is negotiating with the Karzai government to stay past the latter date, in an open-ended commitment. You can bet the Karzai government, notwithstanding anything they say to the contrary seeking to make them look to be masters in their own house and even more important for them, exact more monetary concessions, will jump at the chance of keeping Uncle Sam and our billions in expenditures in Afghanistan so that corrupt government can continue to rip us off stealing millions for the insiders, that we make available to rebuild that country’s infrastructure.
No army going back to Alexander the Great, the British empire and the Soviet colossus has ever prevailed over the indigenous Afghan people. Today, a huge population explosion in Afghanistan is providing an endless supply of young men for the Taliban. I doubt there are many today in our own government who believe we will prevail. They simply, in my opinion, do not want to admit that we can’t win and have suffered a defeat comparable to that we sustained in Vietnam.
To those who say we have to stay to prevent the return to power of the Taliban that will ultimately govern Afghanistan (because the people there prefer it to a more liberal – in terms of social mores, and a corrupt government) and which will once again provide sanctuary to al-Qaeda and allow a repeat of 9/11, I say hooey.
Al-Qaeda and comparable Islamic terror organizations exist in more than 60 countries, according to the CIA. Not long ago, the CIA publicly stated that al-Qaeda cells exist in 62 countries and that in Afghanistan, there were only 50 to 100 al-Qaeda operatives – the fighting being done by the Taliban.
We will be fighting a war against Islamic terrorists for many years to come. That war should be fought by special forces who go in and come out immediately after, hopefully, successfully completing their goal, e.g., killing bin Laden in Pakistan. We should use drones to kill individual terrorist leaders, e.g., al-Awlaki in Yemen. No longer should we be putting land armies into Asia or elsewhere. That was the advice of the recently retired Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
I hope “Occupy Wall Street ,” the current street marchers, add to their litany of grievances: demanding our getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan this year. Why aren’t the Republican candidates for President discussing the issue? I’m for Occupy Wall Street’s expressed demand to hold criminally responsible Wall Streeters and bankers who committed criminal acts contributing to the causes for the Great Recession. Why have those culprits been allowed to buy their way out by paying civil fines, in effect, simply adding to the cost of doing business? I hope the civic-minded participants of Occupy Wall Street are not infiltrated by anarchists and radicals who have a different agenda.
The New York Times reported on Monday, October 11, 2011, on the decline in America’s household income since the onset of the Great Recession and the two years following its end in June 2009 to be a “full 9.8 percent drop in income from the start of the recession to this June.” In addition to the decline in income, Americans have suffered countless billions in losses to the value of their homes and other financial assets. In that same period, I have no doubt the Wall Street financial institutions and the banks have grown far richer than before the recession and stride this nation like Colossi using the Congress to protect them. Not one CEO of a major financial institution or bank has, so far as I know, been indicted, tried and convicted for criminal acts committed causing the Great Recession and the beggaring of America. Those institutions and the people who control them and have enriched themselves consider it to be class warfare to hold them responsible. They are no longer too big to fail, they are apparently too big to jail. If this be class warfare, so be it.
The Honorable Edward Irving Koch served New York City as its105th Mayor from 1978 to 1989.