Amy, the lovely singer/poet from Sharp Little Pencil, asked a few questions, only one of which I will address presently:
Do you think we should pull out of Afghanistan immediately to avoid engaging Iran if/when Israel sends the bombs flying?
Here’s the conundrum: one can appreciate the sacrifice that US military personnel make every day, and still have no idea what we’re fighting for in Afghanistan.
Joe Conason explains:
What keeps the United States engaged is a plausible concern that our departure will permit the Taliban to claim victory, and that our troops are making progress, slow but measurable, in recapturing territory from the enemy. There is no longer any illusion among Pentagon leaders or in the White House that foreign forces can permanently extirpate the Taliban, desirable as that would be. Instead, the real policy for the past few years, whether troops levels rise or fall, is to establish a basis for reconciliation between Kabul and its armed opponents, and to leave the Afghans prepared to defend themselves from extremism.
Thanks to Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, however, we now know that the progress that has justified the war during the Obama years is largely illusory. Generals like David Petraeus tell the president and Congress that things are going well, but after spending a year on the ground, Davis discovered the opposite — and with great courage revealed his findings. (Watch this interview with Davis on PBS.)
I’m just not seeing a way out. After the Marines urinating on dead enemy combatants, then the Koran burning, which led to six American soldiers being killed, and then the massacre of 16 civilians – all revealed in the first ten weeks of 2012, no less – and I just find the situation all rather hopeless.
Moreover, as Ed Koch (!) points out, “Why do we remain when doing so causes the Afghan people to hate us more with the passing of each day, calling us occupiers, infidels, and murderers? The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is thought to be corrupt by many American observers.”
Can’t we declare victory and go home?
As for Iran, we can get sucked into a war there whether or not we are still engaged in Afghanistan. We’ll still have plenty of force in the region. I pray, literally, that we find a non-military way to deal with Iran. BTW, there is plenty of opposition in the Israeli Knesset to their country’s sabre rattling. I don’t think that it is inevitable, at least in the near term, that Israel will bomb Iran when it seem to have selective assassination in its arsenal.
Cartoon from The Bad Chemicals.com. Used by permission.