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Web Letter

I was just curious as to why 9/11 was never mentioned in your piece. You went into great detail about this documentary, and about Reagan's involvement in arming the Taliban, which was interesting, but you never mention 9/11. As a liberal who loves my country, and is serving in the military in Afghanistan, I have to say that this sort of angle is what the right uses to label us as country-hating, non-patriotic weaklings--because your article, and from what you've described, this documentary, is based on a culture of complaint. And to be fair, the documentary form is a biased form of art, and I'm sure the filmmaker takes his point of view and brings it across nicely through images; however, the truth is that your friend who is sad because she lost her view of the Kabul skyline would be greeted with the shrapnel and debris of exploding cars if those hescos were not there. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually. If those hescos were not present, the six-month figure that you gave would no doubt be more of a three-day figure. In short, the presence of security is meant to deter--and thankfully, it has in Kabul. I would also question your statement that it's been six months since the last attack in Kabul.

The truth about Afghanistan is that it is a breeding ground for extremists who would do away with your way of life. Any person who enjoys the comforts of a Western lifestyle should not take it for granted. This is the truth. July has been one of the bloodiest months since this war began eight years ago, and we are learning, and we are changing our tactics to diminish civilian casualties, and taking our fight directly to the Taliban. Regardless of what the administration did or did not do in the '80s, we have a responsibility today to make sure that extremist Islam does not prevail again the way it did in 9/11. Inaction is not justified by the wrongs of previous leaders. I don't know which analysts you are referring to that say the the US has "invented" the enemy, but the day you are present at a fallen soldier ceremony, where four, five coffins dressed with an American flag roll by, and the day you live through a mortar attack in the middle of a hot, sand-choked day, you look me in the eye and tell me this enemy is made up.

Ulises Orduno

Chicago, IL

Jul 27 2009 - 4:42pm

Web Letter

In discussing Afghanistan today it might be useful to examine events that occurred there over two thousand years ago. I refer to Alexander's invasion of Afghanistan. The Great one, the greatest "Great" of them all. Well, ol' Al had the nuclear bomb of his day. It was called the phalanx. It was a systematic plan of battle that swept aside all before it in a somewhat hurtful manner. In his first battle in Afghanistan, the phalanx worked its usual magic and I'm sure Al was thrilled. But then the Afghans decided, not being idiots, that they weren't going to fight in a systematic way. They went and hid in the mountains and only popped up here and there, now and then, harassing and bleeding Al's formidable army. The glorious march became the hard slog. Does any of this sound familiar?

Alexander had the most modern weapons available. His army was well-financed, well-trained and well-led. It didn't matter. The Afghans refused to fight his army. They just nibbled at it everyday, week after week, month after month. In the end Al tapped a few local tribal leaders and set them up to lead the country in his name. "Oh sure, Al, we'll lead this country in your name. Heck, we'll even name a city after you [modern day Kandahar], so... check ya later!" This Alexander called a victory. To this day it is said that he never lost a war. Well, I guess there's winning and there's not exactly losing, which one can characterize as victory if you don't nitpick. Anyway, this scenario has been replayed many times in Afghanistan's long and rather sad history. It looks to me like America is re-enacting scenes from a play written over two thousand years ago.

David Durham

Chattanooga, TN

Jul 27 2009 - 1:09pm