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A War of Absurdity > Letters

Web Letter

The Taliban aided and abetted those who murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11. They have tried to overthrow the Pakistani government, and that would give Al Queda access to nuclear weapons. They have repeatedly defended their alliance with Osama bin Ladin and the leaders of the Taliban have refused to break their ties with Al Qaeda.

Cutting a deal with the Taliban would mean turning our backs on freedom for women who were tortured and had acid thrown on their faces because they dared to want an education and make something of their lives rather than be forced into marriage with a man three times their age before they reached their teens.

I am sick of people referring to the war in Afghanistan as a war George Bush started. We were attacked by a group of psychopaths on 9/11 for no reason whatosever. Before 9/11 Al Qaeda bombed three of our embassies in Africa and murdered three hundred people, bombed the USS Cole, murdered twenty of our soliders and killed our soldiers in Somalia. These people glorify in the murder of innocents, including innocent Muslims who do not agree with their insane views of Islam. If we cut and run now we will most assuredly be hit again in the future, and the next time will be with a weapon of mass destruction.

If this were 1938, the left wing in America would be demanding we not get involved and that we should negotiate with Hitler and his murderous regime. Evil exists, and it must be defeated. History has shown that when we look the other way or try and negotiate with murderers all we end up doing is making things much, much worse, for free people everywhere in the future.

If we are not willing to pay the price now for ridding the world of people bent on our destruction, we will pay a far, far greater price in the future and the 3,000 people we lost on 9/11 will pale in comparison to the numbers of innocent men, women and children we will lose the next time.

You cannot negotiate with people who will only accept your surrender or your death. We must defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda now. If America does not stand tall in the battle against evil, no other country will.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill, NJ

Oct 8 2009 - 8:38am

Web Letter

Evidently, the author does not care about problems like the Taliban policy of throwing battery acid into the faces of girls who go to school. I do not think we should abandon them. There ought to be a poll of your readers.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Oct 7 2009 - 5:03pm

Web Letter

Scheer makes a lot of sense about getting out Afghanistan, but he never articulates why we're there!

Outside of us being in Afghanistan as an energy pipeline protection force, I do see the purpose of our being there. Eight years ago it was to find Osama bin Laden--still no luck, and he is probably in Pakistan. The guys who rammed the planes into the WTC trained in Dresden, Germany, as well as the USA. Then there is the argument that we got to get them there or else they'll come here and create havoc. But people can prepare to attack the US from anywhere in the world--Af/Pak, Dresden, New York or ???.

What was needed in Afghanistan was police/spy work, not invasion. Our military overthrew the Taliban--the mainly Pushtuns and the largest minority (43 percent) in the country and put the smaller minority Tajiks in power. Guess what? The uproar continues .

Solution: get out now, as our being there only causes more friction, and let the Pushtons and the Tajiks work it out.

Unless, of course, we're there as a energy pipeline protection force.

Howard Kaplan

Belmont, MA

Oct 7 2009 - 12:56pm

Web Letter

Our current strategy for Afghanistan seems to have boiled down to three risky options. Going all in by increasing troop strength and nation-building will result in more casualties and be hobbled by a corrupt and incompetent Afghan government. We tried that at the beginning of our war in Vietnam. It failed.

Prolonging the status quo without an increase in troops keeps us in a prolonged, slow-bleed situation, increases the number of "accidental guerillas," makes our forces targets of opportunity and has no successful end game. We tried that in the middle of our war in Vietnam. It failed.

Finally, scaling back to engage simply in counterterrorism operations and giving the Afghan army/police a much larger role will give control of the countryside to the Taliban and reduce us to occupying cities. We tried that at the end of our war in Vietnam. It failed.

It appears that our thinking is locked into only lose-lose options and that the game is out of our control.

In the 1983 movie War Games, we are locked into a supercomputer-directed doomsday scenario game that can't be stopped, the end result of which will destroy the world in a nuclear holocaust. The lead character, David (Matthew Broderick), who accidentally started this mess, realizes the only way is to create a paradigm shift and give the supercomputer a new game to play (tic-tac-toe), which ultimately teaches it the concept of futility, which shuts down the original deadly game. Better to play a nice game of chess.

How can we change the game in Afghanistan?

People like to make money, and the supply-and-demand cycle of the free-enterprise system is the most efficient and least dangerous way to do this. To quote Fredric Bastiat, "When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will." Let's make the Afghans an offer they can't refuse. Buy their farmers' opium and sell it to international pharmaceutical companies who need opium base to make analgesic medications.

Opioid-based analgesics (e.g., oxycodone) have been in short supply because pharmaceutical companies have difficulties getting enough legal raw opium to make these prescription medications. This results in more human suffering. Afghan farmers are one of the world's largest illegal suppliers of opium. Our present policy is to poison their poppies, increase opium's price and leave the profits to those who would create terror and fanatical oppression.

We could change the game by setting up a free-market system to buy raw opium and sell it to pharmaceutical companies. The reasonable and stable prices Afghan farmers would get should entice them to be our allies in a saner social and economic system and, since money usually trumps ideology, many insurgents would follow the money. Everybody from tribal leaders to the American government could get a cut of the profits. Rather than our military personnel going into the mountains to set up remote bases, those Taliban and Al Qaeda who would abhor this would have to come out of the mountains to try to destroy this system, an ideal situation made for our Predator pilotless aircraft and United States military snipers.

Buying Afghan opium is a capitalistic paradigm shift that even filmmaker Michael Moore would endorse. The only losers would be those who still support our anachronistic "war on drugs" policies.

We are currently lost in an Afghan game of futility, and we must step out of the self-made box in which we've put ourselves. As Walt Kelly's character Pogo said: "We have met the enemy--and he is us."

Gene Tinelli

Jamesville, NY

Oct 7 2009 - 11:51am

Web Letter

Mr. Robert Sheer writes: "There is a continued need for effective international police work to thwart the efforts of a widely dispersed Al Qaeda network, but putting resources into that effort does not satisfy the need of the military establishment for a conventional field of battle."

On this point, I agree. Putting resources into developing an effective "international" rapid-response force is the key to getting out of the quagmire in Afghanistan and effectively dealing with a wide range of terrorist threats, and other atrocities like what occurred in Rwanda. This international force is also the key to replacing the United States in its "world cop" role. But unlike Mr. Sheer, I believe we have some responsibility to leave Afghanistan better than we found it, since we are responsible for much of the havoc wreaked on their country. If we just withdraw, it is sort of like the guy who parties in your house while you were away on vacation, and just leaves all of the mess for you to clean up after he leaves. This is wrong!

Even McChrystal acknowledges in his report that "ISAF has not sufficiently studied Afghanistan's peoples, whose needs, identities, and grievances vary from province to province and from valley to valley." So why not study these needs, identities and grievances, and develop a comprehensive response for addressing them? Troop escalation may not be necessary to accomplish this, but withdrawing "before" this occurs does not seem very responsible. How do we know what the Afghans need if we are not talking to them?

At a minimum, we know that much of the Afghan way of life that was dependent on the opium trade must be adjusted to some new economic activity that is self-sustaining. This is not only good for Afghanistan, but also good for the world community. There also appears to be a need for government structures that are capable of delivering a wide range of social services.

Military escalation in Afghanistan may not be appropriate, but withdrawing now and leaving the mess we created to the Afghan people is rude, disrespectful and utterly selfish. Much of the perceived problem with the US playing the world cop role is the selfishness endemic to a single country playing this role. How do we know whether US corporate interests are driving "world cop" actions? Because of this conflict of interest and the history of US interests being dressed up as global interests, we need to depart Afghanistan on a high note that shows genuine care for the Afghan people.

Metteyya Brahmana

Santa Cruz, CA

Oct 7 2009 - 11:05am

Web Letter

Yes, our wars in Iraq and Af-Pak are absurd, but not purposeless. First, withdrawal without victory is a big embarrassment, not only to the president but to the military high command. Generals, admirals do not like to lose. They are still smarting over Vietnam.

Second, we have no jobs for the soldiers returning and we have no peace-time economy to absorb the large number of Americans employed in "defense" industries. Many of our major corporations would suffer great losses if their "defense" contracts were cancelled.

Government would have to take a large hand in setting industrial policy in order to shift from a war-enhanced economy to an entirely civilian one. The ruling class would fear this sort of socialism, though they control the government and could really profit from its rationalization of our economy. Their problem is, they would not know what to do and they fear deferring to government bureaucrats.

In my view, our only hope is that the Chinese will stop buying our bonds and thereby precipitate a monetary collapse in the US (like the Weimar Republic's). When the bourgeoisie are dispossessed, the guillotines will begin to thud and a revolution will ensue. A nasty hope, what?

Alvin Hofer

Pinellas, FL

Oct 7 2009 - 10:47am

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