Myth #1: Not 'finishing the job' dishonors our fallen.
The premise is preposterous. Losing more Americans in pursuit of this mission is not honoring our fallen Brothers and Sisters. This endeavor is not one of national security; we are not 'fighting for our freedoms'; and we are not securing the homeland either directly of indirectly. Many service-members, whether wounded or not, deployed or not......proclaim a sense of duty to be there in the fight. But one needs to analyze the premise behind this. To be sure, there are some who fervently believe that they are fighting the 'good fight'....for our security and freedom. But many others also support the war out of guilt, revenge, ignorance and misplaced patriotism.
The primary basis of support is simply to be there with one's Brothers; a sense of duty to our comrades. I don't mean to denigrate anyone in uniform....before deploying to Baghdad and witnessing firsthand how the war was not being prosecuted as it was being portrayed, I was a quasi-true believer. I understand firsthand the gamut of emotions that go through a warriors mind concerning the justification and correctness of a given cause, when it involves the clash of arms and accompanying loss.
Myth #2: If we leave, the Taliban will simply swarm back in and Al Qaeda will have another sanctuary.
The Taliban, being a disparate collection of semi-aligned tribes as opposed to a monolithic entity, are defending their nation against foreign invasion. This doesn't mean we approve of the Taliban or their ideology....but our opinion cannot be pasted atop a label. What the Taliban fighters believe is what motivates them, it is what is true for them. To insinuate otherwise is putting ones head in the sand. When we leave, the Karzai Regime will surely fall, and either civil war will emerge, or a coalition government will be formed. Possibly a bit of both. The Taliban will play a part in the future of Afghanistan...don't believe me? Even Karzai has expressed such a view in his peace overtures to them:
The common meme is that once back in power, they would again provide sanctuary to Al Qaeda. This myth is perpetrated without thought, evidence or questioning by the media. After hundreds of hours of interrogations and interviews, we know that there is no love lost between the two organizations. Further, they each have a Islam-based, but separate set of goals and strategy. Finally, the Taliban Regime experienced invasion and devastation once due to that arrangement....somebody show me evidence as to why they would risk that again.
According to a former senior Afghan official, Mr. Karzai’s maneuverings involve secret negotiations with the Taliban outside the purview of American and NATO officials.
“The president has lost his confidence in the capability of either the coalition or his own government to protect this country,” Mr. Saleh said in an interview at his home. “President Karzai has never announced that NATO will lose, but the way that he does not proudly own the campaign shows that he doesn’t trust it is working.”
People close to the president say he began to lose confidence in the Americans last summer, after national elections in which independent monitors determined that nearly one million ballots had been stolen on Mr. Karzai’s behalf. The rift worsened in December, when President Obama announced that he intended to begin reducing the number of American troops by the summer of 2011.
“Karzai told me that he can’t trust the Americans to fix the situation here,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He believes they stole his legitimacy during the elections last year. And then they said publicly that they were going to leave.” NYT
Let's continue.......Al Qaeda doesn't need a country for a sanctuary. That's the fundamental premise of a terror-based organization. They need safe house, not geographic regions. There is no compelling interest for Al Qaeda to return in any numbers to Afghanistan except to attack US and coalition forces. If they did.....unlike our invasion in 2001 where we relied on Soviet maps, we now have networks established with friendly tribes, better cultural understanding, and geospatial knowledge that allows us to locate and target any major presence with impunity.
Myth #3: We have to 'fight them over there' because they 'hate us for our freedoms'.
This myth relies on released statements from Al Qaeda where they rail against the decadent west, infidels and puppets. But interviews and interrogations reveal a different story. Almost to a source, they fight against the west because of the long history of economic and military intervention of Muslim nations, and the installation of dictatorial tyrants. This myth is perpetuated largely because we as Americans shy away from ignominious episodes of our own history. We don't like to be reminded of the darker side of Manifest Destiny, the Philippine Insurrection, slavery, etc...
The information campaign — or as some still would have it, “the war of ideas,” or the struggle for “hearts and minds” — is important to every war effort. In this war it is an essential objective, because the larger goals of U.S. strategy depend on separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists. But American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they may also have achieved the
opposite of what they intended.
American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.
• Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.
• Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that “freedom is the future of the Middle East” is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World — but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.
• Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim selfdetermination.
• Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack — to broad public support.
• What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of “terrorist” groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.
• Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic — namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is — for Americans — really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are
really just talking to themselves. Defense Science Board Task Force
The clowns on talk radio quite often rail against the current CinC for merely acknowledging these wrongs, calling it 'apologizing'. But the simple fact remains that we have engaged in a form of economic manifest destiny in the oil rich Muslim region, installed horribly corrupt tyrants through nefarious and undemocratic means and intervened militarily wherever we desired out of perceived economic necessity or Cold War strategic chess. Some of these action weren't completely antithetical to both our security situation or alliances...but what matters when your getting attacked, is the mindset of the enemy. Apology or not, we're being targeted due to the Muslim perception of events....not a patriotic spin of the issue.
Given the logical dissection of the reasons we're still in Afghanistan......what premise makes any sense for staying? My earlier post on Gen. McChrystal forced me to re-think Chairman Steele's remarks. In a very real way, since 2009, this IS Obama's war. He could have shown the political courage and analyzed the truths and myths of our occupation, and chosen a new direction. A direction that would be productive in strengthening our national security as opposed to our current counter-productive stance. A direction that would divert money being spent on Taliban-esque Afghan warlords, and instead secured our borders and port security. But most of all.....a direction that would see thousands of smart, promising and loved Americans still alive...instead of dying for a cause that will likely end in an embassy rooftop evacuation in Kabul.