Questions and Answers about the Afghanistan War

How long have we been fighting in Afghanistan? The war has ground on for over ten years now. Longer than WWI and WWII combined.

When will it end? According to the Obama administration, we will start withdrawing troops in September of 2012 and end our combat involvement there by 2014. However, few Americans believe that, least of all senior military officials, who argue that US and NATO troops should remain until Afghanistan is stable. Never mind that Afghanistan never has been stable and is unlikely to become so in this century.

How is it going? If you ask the US military command, it is challenging, but we are gradually winning the war against the enemy. Never mind that the number of US and NATO troops killed in the first three months of 2012 is about equal to the number killed in the first three years of the war, 2001-2003.

Who is the enemy? Al Qaeda, of course, ever since they attacked us on 9/11/2001. Never mind that Al Qaeda has had no significant presence in Afghanistan since 2001.

Who are we are fighting, then? A subsitute enemy: the Taliban. Never mind that the Taliban did not attack us, know almost nothing about the world outside of their country, and therefore pose no international threat.

But didn’t the Taliban harbor the Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us? Perhaps, but it is customary in Afghanistan to feed and harbor anyone who comes to your door. Also, the people who planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks lived in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada, Florida, and Massachusetts. After the attacks, Pakistan harbored Osama bin Laden and his clan for many years. So those locations also harbored the terrorists, yet we haven’t gone to war with them.

OK, but the Taliban regime was hell for Afghan women, wasn’t it? Maybe Western intervention can help bring about a better life for women there. Yes, it was. But again, regimes all over the world repress women, and the US hasn’t invaded them.

Does the Afghan government want us to stay? No. They want us out, ASAP. In late 2010, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that the US military strategy in Afghanistan is counterproductive. Last Thursday, after a series of incidents in which US troops pissed on Taliban corpses, shot and killed unarmed Afghan women and children while they were sleeping, and posed with Taliban body parts, Karzai said that he wants Western forces to speed-up their departure. Bottom line: we aren’t there because the Afghans want us there.

So why are we still there? Countries north of Afghanistan — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikstan — have oil reserves. The US wants access to that oil. Obtaining secure access will require pipelines running south, through Afghanistan. The alternative pipeline routes go east, to China, or north, to Russia. The US doesn’t like those alternatives. Therefore, US neo-conservatives (and neo-liberals) consider Afghanistan a strategic piece of territory to control.

What can we do to help bring an end to the Afghanistan war? Join the Campaign for New Priorities, and donate to help the Campaign publish advertisements. Write or call your congressional representatives, Senators, President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and ask them. Get their phone numbers and addresses via Google.

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