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Afghanistan Conflict Marks Ten Year Anniversity

7 October 2011 4 Comments
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On Friday, October 7, the United States reached  grim milestone. This date marked the ten year anniversary of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan.  During this period of time over 1,700 American service men and women have been killed,  thousands more have been wounded and maimed, and the cost to the taxpayers has exceeded one trillion dollars.  In addition to American losses, tens of thousands of Afghan men, women and children have met their demise.  U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan has now exceeded the ten year involvement in the War in Viet Nam, and it’s not over yet.  At best, the Obama Administration has indicated  the  military will be in Afghanistan for at least another three years, or three hundred billion dollars worth.  From just about any possible viewpoint, the conflict has been a huge waste of American lives and money, has done nothing to reduce the power and influence of the Taliban and al Qaeda, and has further destabilized a  very volatile region of the world.

There are many lessons that can be learned from America’s ill-conceived involvement in Afghanistan.  The first, and most important lesson is to allow regional powers to resolve problems within their own regions. Although terrorist organizations, such as al Qaeda and the Taliban, can cause damage and destruction throughout the world, it is impossible to  fight against them with boots on the ground in their own home territories.  It is inevitable that local warlords or tribal elders will  view the American military as foreign invaders.  In some cases, such as the ISI in Pakistan, terrorist organizations will be actively supported by local governments.  The key to avoiding long and costly military engagements is to stay out of regions where we have no strategic interest and to avoid conflicts in areas where we don’t belong.

The second lesson to be learned from the protracted war in Afghanistan is to have a well-defined exit strategy before embarking on a military campaign.  If the power and might of the U.S. military forces cannot be used to bring a quick end to the conflict, then the military should not be used. We should have learned this lesson from the Viet Nam War, but sadly we did not.  The American government knew early on that a disastrous end to the Viet Nam War was inevitable, yet the conflict went on for many more years than it should have.  The same is true for the conflict in Afghanistan.

Once American military forces leave Afghanistan, there is little doubt that Iran will slowly but surely bring them under its powerful sphere of influence.  The presence of the Taliban and of al Qaeda will matter very little to the Iranian government, since their objective will not be “the spread of democracy”, but exploitation and domination.  Such is the fate of Afghanistan, and there’s nothing much  the U.S. can  do to change this inevitability from happening.

Rich

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