We see repeated demands that we remain involved in Afghanistan in order to force change in their social and cultural structures so that violence to women and children is eliminated.
Afghanistan will fall prey to a returning Taliban whether we stay in country another 6 months of 60 years. Violence toward women and children will continue to take place in our schools, places of business, in our streets, and in our homes. We may think we can affect change in the manner women and children are viewed and treated. However, the National Rifle Association and the religious fundamentalist/evangelicals are as committed to preventing social and cultural change as are the Taliban. We can’t save Afghanis until we can save Americans.
In World War II, we fought to win and control landmasses that allowed us to deny their raw materials and usefulness to the enemy forces. Victory was defined by the surrender of one nation or alliance to opposing forces. Territorial gains marked progress. In VietNam, the cause for conflict was ideological and no clearly defined victory existed for the U.S. despite the presence of a clearly defined defeat. We pretended that we mark victory by “winning hearts and minds.” In fact, neither populace, North or South, wanted us there for any purpose beyond providing guns and other hardware.
This is the situation we now face in Afghanistan. We were not invited to come and stay. They will take what hardware we provide and welcome any form of bribes and payoffs. But we will not win their hearts and minds. The distance and difference between our world view and theirs is too great. While we have tremendous technical superiority and highly cohesive, well-trained soldiers, it actually appears that “they have us by the balls. If we have to be ever mindful of cultural and religious limitations, our chance of defeating an irregular force, sheltered by the populace and able to avoid cultural booby traps is next to none. We’re combating culture overlaid with a fundamentalist religion – rather like our American Civil War.
There is no answer beyond avoiding becoming embroiled in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or any other tribal nation whose army and other governmental agencies are dominated by religious fundamentalists. Those wars never end; rather like our American Civil War.
It’s time to leave this war to the historians who will decide what was and what should have been. Build the fallen troops a monument and let those who returned alive get on with their lives. Learn the lesson we should have carried forward from VietNam.
“Hear the voices of them all calling softly from the wall,
"Please remember us!”
There is no other answer hidden here" *
* (From Requiem - Voices in the Wall - S Lenon 1992)