The War in Afghanistan: Is There an End in Sight?

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by sinde on November 29, 2009

Americans are war weary.  That goes without saying.  To realize that there are children in the first grade in our nation who have lived their lives to date under the veil of war is astounding.  Of course, that bit of realization pales when we think of children of the same age in Iraq and Afghanistan who have lived in the midst of war for their entire lives.  They were born into war and that is the only environment they know.

On Tuesday night our President will lay out his plan for the remainder of the war in Afghanistan, although there is doubt that there will be anything of substance said.  We all know that President Obama has a way with words.  He is mesmerizing when he is at his best.  However, to believe that we are going to get specifics and timelines is a grand stretch of the imagination.  It would not be prudent.  So, Americans will watch intently hoping to get a sense of how many military personnel will be sent to Afghanistan to bring this debacle to a close.

Of course for all “we” miss in the Tuesday night speech, there will be plenty of air time spent on those who can read between the lines.  The anchors, pundits, and illuminated will explain what we all should have heard.  We know what to look forward to during the following week unless another blonde and husband crash a White House event or Tiger hits another tree.  In either case our attention will be diverted.

osama-bin-laden-seatedBernieHund is quite astonished looking back to the days following 9-11.  We cheered and our hearts raced with the first air strike on Afghanistan.  “We” were off to kick ass and capture Osama bin Laden.  Remember him?  Bin Laden was the principle target.  Not one American can truthfully deny the feeling of wanting to capture and/or kill the culprit.  To date the primary benefit America or Americans have seen from almost a decade of war was the tremendous rise in the sale of American flags and that lasted no more than a few months before flags lost their place to magnetic car stickers supporting our troops.

The nation was one for a brief period of time.  “We” were giddy with the idea of capturing and killing the man who had brought terror to American soil.  I can remember shuddering as I heard people in a restaurant at the surrounding tables talking about war and killing as if it had become a national sport.  But, alas… our collective attention span is short. 

4saddamMany played “follow the leader” as former President Bush represented to America that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were the real enemies.  Thus began the game of national whack-a-mole.  Somehow… some way… the focus on Osama bin Laden turned into the hunt for a semi-faceless Al Qaeda turned into a larger hunt and war against the Taliban.  Yet, the focus had remained in Afghanistan.  Then, it was time to let the games begin.  Whack-a-mole in Iraq was the first diversion.  Maybe we were caught up in the stampede of revenge.  Or, maybe the leaders did not lose focus.  Perhaps, the real focus became revenge against the man (Saddam Hussein) who had tried to “kill my daddy” as our former President said.

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Following our leaders is how we lost the war in Afghanistan.  It would be easy to assume that the three men who plotted and planned the downfall of Saddam Hussein took office in 2001 with their plans close to their hearts and deeply embedded in their mindsets.  While they lost sight of or pushed aside the needs of the nation, the threesome never lost sight of their mission.  We invaded Iraq under cover of the American flag proclaiming ourselves to be liberators and messengers of democracy.  The mission was far more singular.  It was to kill Saddam Hussein.  Mission accomplished.

There was no plan beyond that.  There was no clean up plan in Iraq.  And, Afghanistan was forgotten.  We all know it was forgotten.  It has been dubbed “the forgotten war.”

00000afghanistanNow, eight years following the invasion into Afghanistan we are no closer to capturing Osama bin Laden.  In fact, according to the recent Congressional report we squandered the opportunity during the first months of the war in Afghanistan.  But, we all knew that didn’t we?  We chose not to admit it.  But, we all knew it then and know it now.  It did not take a Congressional report to confirm our knowledge.

So, back to the issue… the war in Afghanistan.  Is there an end in sight?  Probably not.  We can send 30,000 troops into Afghanistan… and we probably will.  Will anything be resolved by sending more troops?  Probably not.   Our attention was diverted from one target to another.  For what it is worth many Americans feel a sense of accomplishment now that Saddam Hussein has been executed.  Our need for killing has been satisfied.  As misdirected as it may have been, we feel we can claim a small victory in the war on terror.

All that said, BernieHund would love to see the madness halt.  We spoke out against the war from the beginning.  And, when we mentioned the resemblance of this quagmire to the one we experienced in Vietnam we were taunted. 

The question remains.  Is the end of the War in Afghanistan in sight?  If so, what does it look like?  How will we know when we have won or lost?  What is the endgame?

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