Thursday, April 08, 2010

Afghanistan Deja Vu

I have some concerns about US policy in Afghanistan. I've been hearing that the majority of the Afghan people, particularly those in rural areas, don't want us there. They don't want any occupiers in their villages and valleys whether they're American, Russian or Taliban. I've heard that fighting escalates when we move in and subsides when we move out.

I've also heard that Obama is between a rock and hard place. If he withdraws unilaterally, some military chiefs will resign and accuse him of being weak and endangering the troops and the American people. If he acquiesces to their pressure to escalate, he only increases the number of casualties on both sides with no end in sight.

This sounds very familiar. I served two tours of duty in Viet Nam as an officer in the Navy from 1969 to 1971. In retrospect I think the non-communist South Vietnamese people wanted us out of there just as much as the Afghans want us out of their country today. Like the South Vietnamese, they just want the endless wars to be over and they would prefer not to have foreign occupiers on their lands. They would rather have to deal with the opposing factions of their own countrymen than with us, who they see as supporting the power groups within the large cities, whom they trust no more than they trust us.

We need to do everything we can to prevent Al Quaeda from hitting us again like it did on 9/11. But we also need to learn how to not repeat the mistakes of Viet Nam and Iraq.

Where are we going to find the inspired leadership that will put the interests of the American and Afghan people ahead of political and military interests?

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