General Question

Zuma's avatar

What are we fighting for in Afghanistan?

Asked by Zuma (5908points) October 30th, 2008

I just saw a Frontline briefing on the war in Afghanistan. The situation is that the Taliban have regrouped. They are flush with opium money and are making a comeback. And even though they are not very popular, we are even more unpopular.

One reason is that there are too few troops on the ground. The military has to rely on air strikes, which tend to hit civilians and non-military targets alienating the population. The humanitarian aid we offer is simply inadequate to bridge the gulf. The nature of insurgency and mountain warfare (where the attackers blend into the population and the terrain) makes it very easy for the Taliban to identify and kill anyone who collaborates with the US, even if they are a contractor we have hired to build a road, dig a well, or any other improvement that might win over the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.

Without a massive commitment of troops, the political and military situation will continue to deteriorate. And we will eventually be driven out like the Soviets before us.

Despite the fact that most of the country is technologically in the 13th Century, the Afghans have successfully repelled invaders since the days of Alexander the Great. Apparently, it is just too large and too rugged to be governed by any form of central government. Consequently most of the country is ruled by autonomous local groups—warlords, opium growers, ethnic factions, bandits, the Taliban, and anyone else that can hold their turf by force of arms.

It looks as though Al Qaeda has fled to Pakistan, which is an even larger and more rugged country (and our ally besides). So, what in the world are we doing in Afghanistan?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

15 Answers

jholler's avatar

We are saving face, and trying to make good on our intentions. Your assessment of the situation is correct in my opinion, Afghanistan has had central governments thrust on it before, and has always gone back to tribal systems. It’s who they are. The troops on the ground issue will be addressed as soon as we get out of Iraq. You didn’t think we’d all just come home, did you? My opinion (as someone who is likely to end up there before my enlistment is over) is that we will augment with the troops from Iraq, we will suppress the Taliban enough to claim victory for Karzai’s government, withdraw, then watch as the country abandons that government and ignores it into irrelevancy in favor of tribal governments. The Red Army tried for what, twelve years, to submit a bunch of guys with flintlocks on horses and failed. I have infinitely more respect for Afghanis than Iraqis as a coherent and competent fighting force.

Magnus's avatar

Democracy, Americas hobby.

bodyhead's avatar

Iraq troops get the money because the Iraq war is the popular war. The troops in Afghanistan are dangerously unequipped (from the mouth of a soldier who was come back from deployment recently) and we probably should have finished in Afghanistan before we started spreading ourselves thin by committing to two wars.

The massive commitment of troops would be available if we weren’t knee deep in troops in Iraq.

The civilian population hates us probably with good reason. If they invaded us to find a small militant group, we’d hate them too. We’d resist. And we’d probably protect the group that wasn’t invading us.’

So the answer to your question as to what we are fighting in Afghanistan… We are fighting to lessen terrorism. It’s ironic because as we destroy people’s lives they are more likely to turn in to terrorists against America. For every Taliban person we kill, we’re probably turning 30 young adults into tomorrows terrorists.

wundayatta's avatar

I have to admit that I was shocked when we invaded Afghanistan. I had thought it common knowledge that it’s impossible to control that country. THe British tried it, and were driven out. The Soviets tried it and were driven out.

Why would we think the US would be any different? Has the terrain changed? Have the people changed? Who are we kidding? Ourselves, apparently.

Look, this is just another example of the Bush Administration’s preference for letting ideology rather than knowledge drive foreign policy. We are there because Bush wanted to be seen to be fighting the war on terror.

It is possible to occupy some territory in Afghanistan: Kabul and maybe a couple of other cities. Even then, you have to have a fortress mentality. It will always be dangerous to travel between cities, and impossible to pacify the country.

More troops won’t help. There aren’t enough, and anyway, what we need is a culturally appropriate invasion scheme. Obviously, that’s an oxymoron. An oxymoron is a moron just a tad smarter than the moron in the White House. Sorry.

Anyway, send the peace corp. Let the warlords fight it out. Once the Taliban are back, maybe they will have learned, or maybe the people will turn on them. Actually, we should study how the Taliban managed to run the country. That might be very interesting.

Ok. Just a few random thoughts. No conclusion, except to say this is just one more collossal fuck-up.

susanc's avatar

One of the things that disturbs me about our savior Barack is that he seems to be
convinced that we can do something with more troops in Afghanistan.

kevbo's avatar

From what I’ve read, our presence in Afghanistan is about control of the opium trade, which we (US government, CIA, what have you) use to fund “black” (off the books) operations. Prior to 9/11, the Taliban had banned poppy production which brought global opium/herioin trade to a standstill. After we invaded, farmers started planting opium again. So, I suppose, when and if the Taliban starts behaving or they are ousted, and there’s a government installed that lets us control the opium, then we’ll find a way to say that we’ve “won” in Afghanistan.

Also, there’s a lot of money being made by defense contractors, etc, so stretching out this conflict is good for business. If you don’t believe me, read up on Vietnam (specifically, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the rules of engagement, and the laws that allowed US capitalists (e.g. Rockefeller) to finance the Soviets). I mean, think about it. We fought a 12-year war that didn’t go anywhere. Who benefits?

Here’s a two time Medal of Honor winner and USMC Major General from the ‘30s who proclaims that War is a Racket.

Bri_L's avatar

we should put a large amount of weapons in a pile away from civilians.

Then when the taliban go to get them, BOOM! ....

Sorry. I was channeling a coyote for a minute.

galileogirl's avatar

We went into Afghanistan because the American people wanted to destroy the group that attacked our country. We are still in Afghanistan because Dubya had other fish to fry.

Judi's avatar

We were supposed to be hunting down and killing Bin Laden, but he is probably sipping ice tea in a villa in Dubai with Ken Lay

fireside's avatar

Even if we had taken out Bin Laden in Tora Bora, the country would still be a quagmire.

GAMBIT's avatar

We are fighting for pride.

Zuma's avatar

“we should study how the Taliban managed to run the country.”

The Taliban basically run a protection racket, taxing opium growers and warlords, and anyone else. They have autonomous roving gangs of young men who enforce their insanely strict version of sharia law. They blow up schools and kill doctors; they prevent women from working outside the home; and they destroy anyone and anything foreign. They stone any woman not dressed in full hajib; they torture to death any man caught drinking alcohol or not wearing a full beard. In other words, they rule through ignorance, repression and terror.

Nobody likes them, but they are the home team, they are religiously committed, and so have both the staying power and the fanaticism necessary to prevail. In the documentary there was one old warlord killed by one of our predator strikes. This touched off a scramble for leadership in which a brutal young thug took over the position. So, any thought about going after the leadership with this remote warfare technology (which has recently turned the tide in Iraq) will only cause the Afghan leadership to be replaced by more brutal, less seasoned, and more reckless leaders.

This is a game we cannot win.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

We should have been in Afghanistan, not Iraq. Actually, if you ever watch Charlie Wilson’s War, if we had gone in and built schools and hospitals the last time we were involved with Afghanistan, we probably wouldn’t have to be there now.

My nephew spent a great deal of time in Kabul; there majority of the people are great, and want moderation.

Dante's avatar

I believe that we have done all we can in the war
but until our troops come home and there is no more death in those areas we have not done our job as a unit so to answer question we are there to protect and serve.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther