Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman gained everlasting fame when he said “War is Hell.”
The definition holds true, but one might also add that Afghanistan is Hell. Even after Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces in six month’s time it took three years, from 330 BC to 327 BC, to get some measure of control over Afghanistan. For the Soviet Union, the war in Afghanistan dragged on for ten years (1979 to 1989) and led to its collapse.
The news is full of the story of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan who went on a killing spree, leaving at least sixteen civilians dead, among whom were women and children, while wounding another five.
The death not noted in the news reports is the death of the American/NATO mission in Afghanistan, one that began with an October 2001 attack ordered by President Bush. Its purpose was to drive out the Taliban and elements of al Qaeda that had reportedly planned the 9/11 attack in outposts established there.
The Taliban are still in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan.
The figures on American and NATO casualties went from twelve in 2001 to 68 just thus far this year. During the “surges” to gain control over various provinces, 2009 resulted in 521 dead, 2010’s toll was 7ll. In all, there have been 2,915 coalition soldiers who have lost their lives there; 1,910 from the U.S., 404 from the United Kingdom, and 150 from our neighbor, Canada.
The effort has included soldiers from nations that include Denmark (47), Poland (35), Spain (34), the Netherlands (25), and France (82) a total of some twenty-eight nations.
It has been a failure.
That failure is seen now in the slaughter of innocents by a lone, American soldier, believed to be a staff sergeant, as yet unnamed. There are many unknowns at this point, but what is known is that trying to fight a war where Afghan soldiers are as likely to kill you as the designated enemy can drive a man to madness.
Trying to fight a war where two soldiers in an Afghan ministry were assassinated because some Korans were burned and others suffer a similar fate is itself madness. Such a place is the very definition of Hell.
America and its NATO allies, just like the Russians, have to leave. Plots against America can be planned anywhere. Afghanistan is the worst place in the world to fight a war. Alexander the Great found that out, the Soviets, and now it is our turn.
I think I know why we are still there. Neither Bush, nor Obama, want to be the President who was defeated by an enemy that isn’t even an army or even a local militia. It is a group of Islamic fanatics for whom time stopped in the seventh century. That is still the calendar in Afghanistan today, so many centuries later.
Not to put too fine a point on it, despite the heroism and sacrifice of our armed forces, but America hasn’t actually won a war since World War II and hasn’t formally declared war since 1941.
There will surely be punishment for the soldier who committed this massacre, but some may look back and conclude this was the day Americans decided finally to leave. We left Vietnam. We have left Iraq—twice now. The Middle East may someday embrace the values of freedom and liberty, but not in our lifetimes, if ever.
Estimates of the total U.S. military expenses in Afghanistan are calculated to exceed $190 billion.
In 2010 alone, U.S. military assistance to Afghanistan was $5.6 billion. Some element of those billions was spent on humanitarian infrastructure, health, community development, education and other worthy, but utterly wasted efforts. Most was stolen by an utterly corrupt “government” led by Hamid Karzai.
Afghanistan has no income producing agriculture, industrial or economic structure. Its only export of any significance is opium with which to produce heroin.
The war in Afghanistan is now the longest American war we have ever fought, longer even than the war in Vietnam. Pay no attention to the “progress” reports by U.S. generals. There has been no progress in Afghanistan. There is only the dark hole of Islamic fanaticism.
It is time to leave Afghanistan. It is time to leave Hell.