Like most Americans, I remember September 11 exceedingly, and painfully, well. And when the United States invaded Afghanistan, as much as I dislike war, I did not protest. I understand the notion of self-defense; I even understand the notion of vengeance.
And I was no fan of the Taliban even before 9/11. I recalled that the Taliban wrecked this ancient (3rd century AD) Buddhist statue, the tallest Buddha figure in the world, and I recalled that it really ticked me off. So I figured that if these are the “bad guys”, then our government, heck the world should root them out. And the world, including France, not so incidentally, responded.
But the mission got sidetracked by more Mesopotamian interests. And while there’s a (legitimate?) government in place in Aghanistan, there seems to be no exit strategy after nearly eight years. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen said on NBC’s Meet the Press last month, “From a military perspective, I believe we’ve got to start to turn this thing around from a security standpoint in the next 12 to 18 months.” When asked what success looks like in Afghanistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said, “We’ll know it when we see it,” a truly pornographic response, as more than one critic has noted.
But even George Will, for cryin’ out loud, referred to our policy in Afganistan as Operation Sisyphus. There may be a legitimate reason for staying in Afghanistan, but like increasing number of Americans, I’m just not seeing it.
My sentiment on this day in more in line with International Unity Day, proclaimed for today by the International Institute For Human Empowerment. Its unity pledge:
We welcome the advent of the new Millennium. We will meet its challenge by first acknowledging that our planet is rich with diversity, but one in humanity. Together we pledge that we will support only the programs and legislation that elevate all people toward equality. We desire to live in peace with our brothers and sisters internationally, and will work toward equity of opportunity in every area of our lives. We celebrate our commitment to improving international relations by living peacefully while sharing active concern for those less fortunate. Together we unite in our desire to end oppression, hunger, and poverty by seeking educational opportunities, including access to technology, for all.
Maybe it’s a little soft and fuzzy mission, but that’s how I feel on this day.