23 September 2009

War never changes. The reasons were trivial and pointless

Afghan wars

I don't get the argument that we needed to occupy and reform Afghanistan totally either. It seemed enough to go in and carve up the known forces that supported terrorism abroad, and then let the Afghans continue sort out the country as they had been doing for several centuries. We would as always retain the ability to deploy forces again should such a threat to the international scene emerge again. But most of the threat came from other places (the terrorists involved in 9-11 came from Saudi Arabia, and lived and trained in Europe or America, not Afghanistan), and was funded in other ways than the current narco-terrorism we're fighting in Afghanistan. It was enough to more closely monitor such things (ideally within the context of a legal system with checks and balances, something we still haven't started doing). It wasn't necessary to go in and remove "safe havens", with the logic being that we should play whack-a-mole and occupy such places with military force. That, to my mind, before any other considerations apply, is just a bad use of the military. You have a military to win wars and battles (ideally to prevent them from occurring at all by "winning" ahead of time). And you win them by forcing the engagements on your terms. Not by committing to battles that other people want you to fight. Rooting out safe havens through occupied force commits us to a battle on the terms of our enemies. It makes possible the propaganda that we are an imperialist force aggressive against Islam itself.

I guess there are human rights issues that people think will be addressed in that way. I believe those people are badly misinformed on how "democracy" or "freedom" works around the globe in places that it hasn't worked before without any of the necessary conditions available to make it work (middle class economy based on trade, rule of law instead of fear of law, etc). As in: it doesn't. And you can't make it work unless you build up the system necessary to support it first. So if our interest is to prevent human rights abuses against women or by imposing a strict shariah law upon Afghans, we would be at this for decades, essentially forming the core for a new imperial edict of sorts. It's not enough to simply prop up a government that says it won't do or won't allow those things we don't want to happen. I didn't think that was why we were there originally, why the argument was to stay there, instead of invading Iraq, or why we were there now.

But apparently that's all it really comes down to. Which to me means it's a dumb thing to be doing.

(Apologies for the flurry of activity. But I have had less interest over the last week in commentary. I really should try to be more consistent.)
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