We went into Afghanistan with one limited purpose; to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and his followers, then get out. But some had other plans. And now we are sinking lower into our latest quagmire as thousands of our soldiers are being killed and wounded in a pointless war. We have no fight with the Taliban, as evil as they are. Nothing good will come from an invasion that President Bush did not want to launch in the first place.
And I’ll say it once again. George W. Bush never wanted to invade Afghanistan. Immediately after 9/11, he wanted to invade Iraq, not Afghanistan. He and his administration wrote bin Laden off from the beginning. He wanted silence on the topic. Instead, he ordered his advisers and members of his cabinet to find a reason to invade Iraq.
Both Bush and and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice turned down pleas from counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke for an immediate meeting of the security council to discuss the real and impending Al-Qaeda threat to our nation during Bush’s first eight months in office. He was turned down, but finally got a meeting one week before the attack. The group of neocons who influenced Bush (Rumsfeld) were waiting for what they called “another Pearl Harbor”, an attack on America that would give them carte blanche to carry out plans for a “New American Century,” a world dominated by American military power, on earth and in space. Also google pnac, project for a new american century. See pp. vi and v in link above.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also wanted to attack Iraq after 9/11. Richard Clarke had to correct him.
“Rumsfeld was saying that we needed too bomb Iraq. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan. And I said, Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places but Iraq had nothing to do with it”
But Clarke, the CIA, and the FBI, all stood up and said Iraq had nothing to do with the attack on America. So Bush reluctantly sent troops to Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 to wipe out Al-Qaeda. A simple task. If that was the goal.
(Think about this for a moment. If Bush had gotten his way, we would have bombed and invaded Iraq and never gone after bin Laden. Not because Iraq was guilty but because it was what Bush wanted.
Why? To secure Iraq’s oil supply? That was brought up at at an early meeting. Was it partly for his resume? (Read ‘Afghanistan and Iraq: How America managed to get bogged down in two illegal wars.’)
“By December of 2001, bin Laden and several hundred of his men were cornered in caves in the mountains of Tora Bora. American commanders on the ground asked for reinforcements to block Al-Qaeda’s escape to Afghanistan.
“The decision not to deploy American forces to go after bin Laden or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commander, General Tommy Franks…”
I heard the announcement on television and I knew that bin Laden and his men would escape. The only reason that Rumsfeld and Franks would let this happen would be by a conscious decision to let it happen and not for the reason he gave.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report on Tora Bora “states that as a result of allowing the al-Qaeda leader to flee from his Tora Bora stronghold into Pakistan, Americans were left more vulnerable to terrorism, and the foundations were laid for today’s protracted Afghan insurgency.”
That simple step, blocking the escape route into Pakistan, would mean that we could have been out of Afghanistan in a few months and the threat from Islamic terrorism would have been greatly diminished, a huge setback. Better yet, knowing what Al-Qaeda was planning for 9/11, Bush could have stopped the attack. The info was there, including Project Bojinka, a plan to crash 12 airliners into the Pacific and possibly buildings on the west coast. I knew the threat from hijacked planes was a likely scenario. And Bush didn’t have a clue? See CNN article.
Bush said he was not interested in bin Laden at a press conference “on March 13, 2002, three months after allowing bin Laden and his small group to escape to Pakistan.” The president declared:
“As I say, we hadn’t heard much from him (Osama bin Laden). And I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s at the center of any command structure. And, you know, again. I don’t know where he is. I’ll repeat what I said: I am truly not concerned about him…”
(Once again, try to digest that. One could say bin Laden did a favor for him. Now he could get legislation that would take away our rights and, eventually, convince Congress to support his illegal invasion of Iraq.)
Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan moved on, with the Taliban using Pakistan as a sanctuary. The U.S. began to utilize armed drones to attack Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan. More troops were sent and casualties climbed but a clear vision, or a measure of what winning is, remains undefined.
Maybe there isn’t one. President Obama said on July 23, 2009 that “Victory” is not necessarily the goal in Afghanistan. He tries to give an example:
“We are confident that if we are assisting the Afghan people and improving their security situation, stabilizing their government, providing help on economic development…those things will continue to contract the ability of Al-Qaeda to operate. And that is absolutely critical.” (The Taliban are the problem in Afghanistan, not Al-Qaeda.)
First. Al-Qaeda is a small organization, operating in the sanctuary of Pakistan. But there still is no definition of victory or any kind of measure that says we can leave now. And religion is a major factor. Islam (Afghanistan, Pakistan) is a religion that does not tolerate other religions in their territory. When unbelievers attack Muslims in a Muslim nation, every Muslim is obligated to aid his brothers. We have seen that a number of times, the most notable being the Fort Hood massacre. In Islam, there is no room for other religions. Governments should take that info under advisement before getting entangled on foreign soil.
Joel Brinkley, Nov. 26, 2010: “As everyone knows, Afghanistan is now home to few if any al-Qaeda operatives. All of them long ago fled to Pakistan,, and in the nine years since the war began many of them have set up new terror centers in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Indonesia and North Africa, among other spots.”
The Taliban remain in their safe haven, Pakistan. In that scenario, “we cannot prevail in Afghanistan,” according to Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state and assistant secretary of defense.
Brinkley: “Military leaders are now claiming significant success ridding Kandahar of Taliban extremists. While soldiers killed numerous militants, many hundreds of others simply walked away, back over the border to Pakistan, waiting for the Americans to leave.”
The Afghan army, which is going to replace American and European troops sometime this century, isn’t working out. These soldiers have loyalty to their tribe, not to a nation. The desertion rate is close to 75 percent.
“Transparency International’s new corruption-perception index shows Afghanistan holding the second-to-last spot out of 178 nations investigated. That report came out at about the time (President Karzai admitted that Iran gives him bags of cash, $500,000 or so every month or two. He also pardoned the one senior government official who was caught red-handed taking a bribe.
“The Afghan military…is a reflection of its nation. When NATO commanders send Afghan troops on a mission, they have to confiscate their cell phones to prevent soldiers who took bribes from calling the Taliban to tip them off.” (Kansas City Star)
Those tasked with making policy are hindered in producing a coherent product when they let their worldview and background interfere with their decision-making, resulting in poor, often disastrous mistakes. And it seems the lessons are never learned. Study the subjects you target, their history, culture, how they have reacted to similar situations in the past, then you have the ability to make a wise decision.
In some cases the differences are too wide to bridge. For example you can’t force people living in the 11th century to reject their core beliefs and become just like us. And we can’t preemptively attack a nation just because they may do the same to us someday or because you want to arrange the world for your benefit. Treat other nations as you would like to be treated. Be responsible and use force only when it’s necessary. Times are changing and we are going to be fully engaged with more than we can handle.
There are major events in the world that will soon present us with enormous problems and make Afghanistan irrelevant. There is no reason for us to be there. Remember Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia? It’s time for us to leave.