Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Obama should not escalate war in Afghanistan


General McChrystal wants to fight the Taliban insurrectionists with a retread version of the utopian “hearts and minds” strategy. Only those narrowed by military arrogance linked to cultural ignorance and papered over with willful disregard for the facts on the ground would consider putting such a strategy into effect. Why should anyone assume an outside force armed to the teeth on the ground and raining indiscriminate death from the sky via drones and bombers can turn an entire country of isolated mountain villages into something akin to Switzerland?

Read Alissa J. Rubin’s “New York Times” report from Afghanistan. She catches the thinking that circulates through village markets every day and is bantered about each night around the family meal. Americans and NATO forces are seen as inept occupiers who will someday leave. Afghans who are not powerfully placed puppets and profiteers see no upside in supporting the supporters of the corrupt regime in Kabul.

So, remembering the defeat of the Soviets and other western powers in the past, the man on the dusty street, the village Afghani, scoffs at our efforts.

“What have the Americans done in eight years?” asked Abdullah Wasay, 60, a pharmacist in Charikar, a market town about 25 miles north of Kabul, expressing a view typical of many here. “Americans are saying that with their planes they can see an egg 18 kilometers away, so why can’t they see the Taliban?”

Hawkish conservatives in the United States are the first to cry out for local solutions to local problems. These blind hawks, the Sultans of the Surge to Nowhere, mindlessly argue every domestic problem can be solved on the local level. I propose they listen to this ideologically simpatico brother, Mohammed Younnis. Here is his analysis:

“They [the Taliban] are the sons of this country, it is right to negotiate with the Taliban,” said Mohammed Younnis, a shopkeeper in Charikar who sells tea, sugar and grains.

“This government is Afghan, and the Taliban are Afghan; they should build the country together,” he said.

President Obama should not escalate the war in Afghanistan. It may have been a “necessary war” when bin Laden was crouching in a cave. He is long gone. This war is now a bloody mountain quagmire.

— Gary W. Daily

Nov. 11, 2009, Terre Haute Tribune Star

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