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The Unending War in Afghanistan Is America's Shame

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/25/unending-war-afghanistan-americas-shame

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We live in a nation where the entertainment, politics, and education components conspire to keep the great majority in a state of near zero empathy to the citizens of the targets of empire. It was southeast Asia when I was younger, now it’s mostly the Middle East. When we dehumanize others we dehumanize ourselves. When we feel for others we feel their pain and while it does hurt I prefer empathy, even if it comes with an abject feeling of helplessness in the odds of stopping empire.

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I think the most important part of this article is:

Wahab urges forming a multinational trust fund to justly assist with reconstruction in Afghanistan, including efforts to clear mines and clean up unexploded ordnance. Billions of dollars would be needed, commensurate to the sums spent on funding the war. He believes the United Nations should form a peacekeeping presence in Afghanistan relying on non-NATO countries.

I have to assume very few people here need any convincing that we need to fully withdraw militarily from Afghanistan. But I may not be the only one who doesn’t have very firm ideas on what we can do after that to minimize the carnage that will continue - more rockets will be fired from insurgents against rivals for many years I’m sure. I agree certainly to spending some money, though realistically it isn’t politically possible to spend the same levels as war spending - in fact we make arguments that we will save money by reducing our war footing and anybody making that argument isn’t going to want to hear that they will be called liars. Maybe we can spend 25% of our war budget for another 10 years. That’s still a lot of money and gives opportunities for many good things to be done but also for a ton of graft and almost nothing good getting done. How to avoid the latter is something I’d like to hear more about in future articles.

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I want the president-elect to clearly explain to the public what US national interest is furthered by US troops in Afghanistan? Is it a cross-roads of the eastern hemisphere allowing access to markets? Is it in the Western Asia sphere of influence, a countervailing force against Russian and Chinese expansion? Is it still a training ground for terrorists who plan to attack the US? Is it a country that the US must police to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe? If it is any, some, all of these things, and/or something else, I want him to explain how these interests will be achieved. I want a clear-eyed debate about the objectives and consequences of staying or leaving in the Congress.

The AUMF renewed by the Congress since 2001 shouldn’t be open-ended. Has its original purpose been fulfilled? The military will stay until it is told to pull-out. Foreign policy can be carried-out on many levels. Mr Biden is the 3rd administration inheriting western Asia foreign policy based primarily of military operations. He must tell the people of the US and Afghanistan what his administration is planning to do to stabilize Afganistan.

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Not only will more rockets be fired by insurgents but U.S. planes will be dropping more bombs upon the Afghans and drone missiles will be launched in order to make up for the void which will be created when more U.S. troops finally leave Afghanistan. In addition neither the Pentagon nor Trump has mentioned how Special Forces are not going to be withdrawn from that country which will then inflict more misery upon the Afghan people. It would appear that the media along with many liberals have forgotten what Nixon did when he began withdrawing troops from Vietnam in the early 1970s while increasing the air wars upon Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It seems that not much has changed from what happened some fifty years ago and today.

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Yes but when we finally really left Vietnam under Ford in 1975, we didn’t do any more bombing. We left a huge mess and there I would not have wanted to live in Vietnam for a long time after but we need that kind of end in Afghanistan - a complete withdrawal. I don’t expect it to happen under Trump or Biden but I hope it happens as soon as possible.

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You write that:

“Yes but when we finally really left Vietnam under Ford in 1975, we didn’t do any more bombing.”

I agree though it appears that that is not an apt analogy to what is going on today in Afghanistan because of the simple fact that bombing is continuing in Afghanistan while U.S. soldiers are still stationed in that country. It is almost hard to believe that this debacle in Afghanistan has gone on longer than the American War on Vietnam because during the 1960s and when I was in Vietnam it seemed that that war would never end. And yet that is what is going on in Afghanistan which is also known by the appropriately named the Forever War. And in all likelihood no American politician or top ranking military official will ever be charged with war crimes against the Afghan people in the same way that no American politician or high ranking military officer was ever charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity which involved the Vietnamese people. American exceptionalism at its finest [or worst].

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How naive … do you really believe that the MIC will ever shut down the war machine? Israel demands our wars continue forever so their war against the Palestinians will be somehow justified. Terror , you know. Always follow the money. Billions in profits for weapons manufacturers. The propaganda outlets NYT, Wash Post will continue to excuse the marauding by our mercenaries.

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you keep hoping Dara but make sure to pay your war taxes.

As the old union song asks, I just want to know “which side are you on?” A president hasn’t spoken to the people from the oval office about the endless war for too many years to justify why it has to continue. The congress is impotent. The out-going president made accusations and complained about the war, but the war continued. A new president offers another chance to change foreign policy. He must because the idiot in office has really screwed-up so many areas. But, I want to know about the unending war and we will know him by his actions.