Let’s Give Up Unwinnable War in Afghanistan

On the same day the moon blotted out the sun in an eclipse last year, President Trump announced a “new” Afghanistan policy that blotted out common sense and any hope that we’d extricate ourselves from our longest war and withdraw from the land long known as the graveyard of empires. Trump was vague about how many soldiers he plans to dump into the quagmire while hanging a bullseye on their backs, but most estimates put it at about 3,000.

It won’t make any difference. At one time we had something like 100,000 troops there, and we still couldn’t pacify or stabilize that armpit of a country. Both Obarna and Trump said they’d get us out. What a bunch of hooey. Once we get our talons into a colony, we never give it up. Our foreign policy can be summed up as follows. Invade. Kick butt. Dig in and plunder. Waste a zillion dollars. Never leave. Never learn.

It’s about time we officially change the Golden Rule to be honest about how we actually operate. Start with: “Do unto others what they have done to you.” In the now permanent War on Terror, our reprisals for the 9/11 attacks have killed far more Americans than the attacks themselves. We could mention the collateral damage (dead and wounded people, incidentally) we have caused, but Americans don’t like to think about our victims in between their burgers and fries.

We like to declare war on things like poverty, drugs, cancer, terror, etc. But when we do, those wars never end and we never win. Maybe we should declare peace on something for a change.

In the so-called War on Terror, the announced policy of the “pre-emptive strike” only raises the violent ante. We attack and bomb people we think might attack us. So the Golden Rule may well be: Do unto others before they even have a chance to do unto us. This is a long way from turn the other cheek, though many of the architects of our overseas violence call themselves Christians. I’ve got a more accurate name for them: Hypocrites.

It’s hard to get an accurate count, but we are reportedly fighting about seven wars, mostly in the Middle East and Africa. Somehow we think the Muslims we bomb are not as vengeful as we are. But Arabs are far more patient than Americans who live in the land of the 20-minute pizza delivery. They, too, are vengeful and have long memories. As sure as sowing and reaping, or chickens coming home to roost, or boomerangs, or karma, the violence we project overseas will come back to us.

It already does. Our combat veterans often return deranged from the horrors they witness overseas. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to mitigate the pain and marinate the despair. Many commit suicide. Occasionally, they go berserk and commit one of our periodic mass shootings.

All over the country, every day, Americans send the meat wagons out to pick up and haul away the human carnage we produce on a 24/7 basis. The bodies that are still warm end up in emergency rooms where the staffs deal with ballistically mangled flesh, wounds and slashes, perforated torsos, and dangling limbs. Sometimes Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again, but the scars, physical and mental, never go away.

So what do we get in return for the trillions we waste on a global empire and a foreign policy based on big-stick intimidation? Ask the military brass and they get all solemn and assume an annoying air of you-don’t-know-squat-so-spare-me-the-questions. The Warlords of the Nation Security State basically pat the peasants on the head and assure them they are “fighting for our freedom”–a bogus propaganda line we mindlessly swallow. Like the Romans of old, the elites distract us with bread and circuses, only now they use beer, chicken wings and ballgames.

What a clever gig the Warlords have going. The War on Terror breeds more terror. The violence is self-perpetuating. Defense spending will likely soar past the $700 billion mark annually. Add to that the interest we are paying on a nightmare $20 trillion federal deficit, and most Americans are getting a big fat zero in return for the taxes we shell out. Somebody is getting rich off of all this money shuffling, and it ain’t Joe Sixpack.

The current nuclear brinksmanship we are engaging in with North Korea directly proceeds from our bombing the country flat back in the 1950’s. The fact that we still have a huge army on that sorry peninsula is another example of how we never leave the countries we never should have invaded in the first place. We should thank the Vietnamese for emphatically running us out of that country in 1975, or we’d still be there too.

So the war in Afghanistan will grind on endlessly. The Taliban will play hit and run and mostly hunker down until Uncle Sam is bled dry. Someday, we will leave, and the only question is how much money will have been squandered and how many people killed.

The Taliban aren’t going anywhere. They live there.

Rogerson, of Wheeling, is a professor of English at West Virginia Northern Community College.