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“The Longest War”: Afghanistan, The Soon To Be Forgotten War

President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan yesterday, telling American troops that while “Afghanistan is still a very dangerous place,” they can take pride in what they’ve accomplished. “More Afghans have hope in their future, and so much of that is because of you.” As we honor the service members who gave their lives in all of America’s wars, it’s a good time to ask how we’ll look at the longest one we’ve ever fought. By the time we wind down our mission there at the end of this year, the Afghanistan war will have lasted over 13 years.

Here’s a prediction, one I make with no pleasure: when we pull most of our troops out of the country later this year, most Americans will quickly try to forget Afghanistan even exists.

Consider this: How much have you thought about Iraq lately? When the last U.S. troops left there in December 2011 after nearly nine years of war, the public was relieved that we could finally wash our hands of what was probably the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, with over 4,000 Americans dead (not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqis) and a couple of trillion dollars spent, all for a war sold on false pretenses. But unless you’ve been paying attention to the stories on the inside pages, you may not have noticed that Iraq is not exactly the thriving, peaceful democracy we hoped we would leave behind. The country is beset by factional violence; according to the United Nations, 7,818 Iraqi civilians were killed in attacks in 2013. No country in the world saw more terrorism.

I’m not arguing that there’s much we can do about it now, or that we should have stayed. But as far as Americans are concerned, Iraq’s problems are now Iraq’s to solve, and most of us would rather just not think about it.

We’ll be keeping troops in Afghanistan after the end of this year, to do targeted counterterrorism and training of Afghan forces. The number hasn’t yet been determined, but it will be small enough that we can say we’re no longer at war there. And for all we know today, things could turn out great. Perhaps the Afghan government will manage to clear itself of the corruption with which it has been infected, and perhaps the country will not be riven by factional violence. Perhaps we will leave behind a state with enough strength and legitimacy to hold the country together. But if those things don’t happen, most Americans won’t want to hear about it.

Afghanistan will get put in the same corner of our minds we now place Iraq. So many misguided decisions from those at the top, so much sacrifice from those on the ground, and for what? The answer is too painful to contemplate, so we’ll prefer to thank the veterans for their service and not spend too much time thinking about the larger questions of what the war meant.

 

By: Paul Waldman, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, May 26, 2014

May 27, 2014 - Posted by | Afghanistan, Foreign Policy | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I believe that the Iraq war was a complete success by the standards of the Right-Wing and the Bush family.

    It did exactly what it was designed to do with only minor disadvantages and none to the Bushes.

    It said to Sadaam Hussein, “Never F— with George H.W. Bush or his Oil.”

    “If I can’t kill you; I’ll send my son to do it.”

    Lighting up the Kuwaiti Oil Fields was; to GHWB; like burning little money puking puppies.

    Hubris you say?

    Perhaps.

    Hubris is one of the most obviously offensive characteristics of the Political Party that he and his father, Prentiss Bush, truly espouse.

    In fact; one of the most frequent comments made by people who have read the manifesto of the Party is:

    “Mein Kampf?”

    “Mein Gott; Was Hybris.”

    Hubris; Vanity; Arrogance; Audacity; call it what you will.

    I call it the end of life for over 4 thousand young Americans who went to war for a lie. 4000 who suffered and died and many thousands more who were scarred; damaged by the mental torture of slaughtering our fellow humans.

    And again; for a lie. A lie told and retold by a President who saw himself as a real “Bad-Assed American Hero” “Goin’ forth to do batt-er’ with the enemies of “Mah’ Deddy”

    A Stump-Humpin’, Shine-Pumpin’, Forgot Sumpin’, Hoot-Nanny, from the land of the Billionaire Ranchers.

    This is a good example of why America will never move far enough forward to make real difference. It’s hard to even get Americans to admit the obvious truth of what I have just said or even to examine the facts.

    They are afraid to admit that National Socialist in the guise of a regular American Politician led this nation to destruction and Criminal War while we applauded his patriotism.

    They’ll be just as shocked when that same Party ends our “Democracy” and sets up the Fascist State that will lead the Right-Wing’s way as they commit Murder/Suicide with the American people and culture.

    Like

    Comment by angrymanspeaks | May 27, 2014 | Reply


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