Three years, 34,000 soldiers. Finally, a military mission I support. For eight years we have under supported the troops in Afghanistan “the other war” where actual threats against the United States really exist. Where actual terrorist attacks against the United States were perpetrated. Where Osama Bin Laden actually hides (sometimes). Sarcastic? Yes. Because I’m mad it’s taken this damn long to fight the right war.
I’d like to tell you a little story about a country not far from the Middle East. It’s a little dirt patch surrounded by rocks and war lords called Afghanistan. In the 80s, a country called America armed Afghans called the mujahideen, or freedom fighters. We gave them the best technology available to kick Soviet commies out of their country. Hell, Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson got a movie with Tom Hanks for his efforts in arming the Afghans. One of the fellas we armed was a Saudi gazillionaire named Osama Bin Laden. He was just our sort. Dedicated. Willing to die for the cause. Sure he was a little on the religious side but who cared? He was willing to kill Soviets. And then that country called America left. And with no real government or security force, those mujahideen began calling themselves the Taliban and some created a club called Al-Qaeda. And they had all these great ideas like forbidding television, music, arts, dance. They thought public executions in soccer arenas were a good idea. Women were their favorite targets. Covered in burqas unable to work or walk alone without a man, even their daughters were forbidden from school. And this country called America ignored the problem. Who cares about a pile of rocks and opium fields when oil sits just a few countries away?
Anywho, these Taliban, underestimated, began plotting a planning. They started with a small explosion in Yemen that killed a few US soldiers, then came 9/11 when a group of mainly Saudi-born terrorists funded by Al Qaeda attacked and suddenly Americans wondered, “Who are those people?” and “Why do they hate us?” and more importantly “How do we get rid of them?” Our answer was to woefully underman Afghanistan where the attacks were planned and where Taliban held a stronghold and to pick a fight with Iraq and Saddam Hussein sending more than double the amount of troops to Iraq and leaving Afghanistan to sit festering. Saddam was a bad guy we hated. He was the face of the country not a blind terrorist network. It was easy to not like him. They had “Weapons of Mass Destruction” rolling about on trucks said Colin Powell.
If I sound trite, I mean to. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the breeding grounds of terrorism and are the biggest threat to national security right now. Iraq has now helped spawn more terrorism, has provided more haven for fundamentalists but has never and was never as big of threat as Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s government wasn’t ever strong, its economy always weak, its infrastructure bad. Iraq was never like that. If anything, fundamentalists despised Saddam because he wasn’t a good Muslim, not a moral man in their eyes. But we saw quite clearly what happens when you leave Afghanistan. I’m not down with occupation, but I’m not stupid either. The foreigners (Saudis, Pakistanis, etc.) who helped form the core of Al Qaeda and who helped institute archaic Taliban laws are bad for Afghanistan, bad for the people and bad for the United States. My worry though is with a time table set, terrorist can simply wait out the troops. And more worrisome though is the fact that many will simply slip into different “friendlier” countries like Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia to plot, to scheme to plan attacks. How do we stop that from happening? I’m not sure, but I do know that leaving Afghanistan is the wrong answer.