What are we doing?

Slayings should prompt serious rethinking of our presence in Afghanistan

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The shocking and dreadful killings of Afghan citizens by a U.S. soldier illustrates both how our two peoples are alike and how we are different.


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We are alike in that Americans, too, have people living and working among us who are capable of gross atrocities against others.

We are very much unlike each other, however, in how we react to them.

When U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan massacred 13 and wounded nearly 30 others at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, there were no riots here, and no significant backlash against Muslims – even though evidence indicated Hasan may have been sufficiently radicalized to have been inspired by his Islamic beliefs.

Rather, Hasan – reportedly paralyzed from the chest down during the return of gunfire – is receiving some of the best medical care available on the planet as he awaits trial.

In addition, our leaders in Washington were careful not to blame an entire people for Hasan’s alleged acts.

In contrast, of course, in Afghanistan – a country where the burning of books has prompted murderous riots and the deaths of half a dozen Americans – one can expect no such restraint.

Nor will many in Afghanistan be mollified by the fact that almost all Americans deplore such acts and are horrified and horribly sorry; that the suspect will be dealt with harshly; and that no one opposes this soldier’s alleged actions more than the U.S. military. Our people there and the mission they are trying to further – to help build an Afghan civil infrastructure that can resist the radicalization and oppression of the Taliban – are only endangered by this tragedy.

We are infinitely more regretful about this calamity than about the book burnings – for all the good it will do. It’s unlikely that profuse apologies will make a difference, based upon what we’ve seen there.

Thus, based upon what we’ve seen there, you have to wonder whether our continued presence in Afghanistan is an overall positive. Indeed, this sorrowful episode may have conservative Republicans even more eager to get our troops out than our anti-war president is.

“I think that we’re risking the lives of young men and women in a mission that may frankly not be doable,” Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told an interviewer Sunday. “I think it’s very likely that we have lost – tragically lost – the lives, and suffered injuries, to a considerable number of young Americans on a mission that we’re going to discover is not doable.”

Asked by another interviewer if it’s time we got out, Gingrich flatly said, “I think it is.”

Fellow GOP candidate Rick Santorum said, “We have to either make the decision to make a full commitment, which this president has not done, or we have to decide to get out ...”

The stunning shooting over the weekend must be thoroughly investigated and punished. But we must also reconsider what we’re doing in Afghanistan – and whether it really is doable.

Part of that calculation has to be the fact that many Afghans seem incapable or unwilling of separating the acts of a few from the intentions of the many.

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omnomnom 03/13/12 - 01:05 am
"you have to wonder whether

"you have to wonder whether our continued presence in Afghanistan is an overall positive" well, the Russians learned the hard way in the 80s. It's our turn to re-learn. RE: Santorum's comment. What is a "full commitment?" Are we supposed to make them the 51st state? yeesh. Empty words that can be twisted to fit his mettle. Has he given us any concrete plan of action that he would take?

Riverman1 03/13/12 - 04:54 am
If there's a solar eclipse

If there's a solar eclipse coming any time soon to that region we should tell the tribesmen we will take the sun from them on such a date and will take it for good unless they promise to be behave. Then we leave.

agustinian 03/13/12 - 06:52 am
Declare Victory! Then Leave.

Declare Victory! Then Leave.

DuhJudge 03/13/12 - 07:35 am
Why did we go there? Oh.

Why did we go there? Oh.

TNTHOMSON 03/13/12 - 09:36 am
The military or political

The military or political leader that spins all those dead, physically and mentally disabled soldiers and the trillions of dollars wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan as a 'victory' should instead hang their head in embarrassment, apologize to the American people and resign.

Low radiation tactical nuclear weapons would have been a better alternative. At least America wouldn't be perceived as weak infidels dieing for a contentious and corrupt population that hates our country and our God.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/13/12 - 10:01 am
The idea of tactical nuclear

The idea of tactical nuclear weapons is a fascinating one. The father of the "neutron bomb" was Sam Cohen, who died in 2010. Here is an interview with him from 1997:

Sam Cohen

For those of you who don't remember, the neutron weapon is lethal, but it does not destroy much in the way of property or buildings or vehicles. In that sense, it is a much more humane weapon than the mass destruction kind.

TParty 03/13/12 - 12:16 pm
At least people want to end

At least people want to end the war in Afghanistan before moving over into Iran for the next war....

Retired Army
Retired Army 03/13/12 - 02:36 pm
Umm ACES, did you forget to

Umm ACES, did you forget to note that we are the occupying force in a region historically note as the "Graveyard of Empires. Whatever made us think we could keep this up for over ten years now? Sheer arrogance is all I can think of. We are not fighting a political/economic agenda. This is a religeous war from our opponents perspective. We are and will continue to suffer unnacteptable losses in those conditions. People willingly sacrafice themselves and die for their God.

Hubris is a tough lesson. Hate to say this but many of my Vietnam Veteran compatriots will be relating to the brave young men and women who's lives have been abused by a Congress and leadership who have never served in a combat situation. We are seeing this already with outrageous suicide rates, drug and alcohol use/abuse and mental breakdowns.

Want to end wars of choice? Re-institute the draft and make the sons and daughters of ALL elected officials the highest in eligibility to be drafted with no deferrements. Of course it takes the moral fiber that our leaders in Congress do not posess to take an action of that sort.

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