According to reports
, last Friday's U.S. airstrikes killed 90 Afghan civilians, including 60 children. This raises the fundamental question: What are we doing in Afghanistan?
As little as a year ago, I saw Iraq as an immoral war and Afghanistan as a just reaction to the attacks of September 11. The more I have thought about and researched the Afghanistan war, however, the more I doubt the reasons behind it. Considering that the sole declared purpose of invading Afghanistan was to capture Osama Bin Laden, and he is now widely considered to be in Pakistan, one question remains: Why are we in Afghanistan?
If the goal had been to capture just Osama Bin Laden, a full-scale invasion that through the country into disorder and disarray seems to be the worst possible way to find him. Muddying the water prevents you from seeing the bottom of the well, and it makes it impossible to draw good water. The best action would have been to covertly capture Osama Bin Laden and bring him back for trial in America for the crime that he committed in our country.
Afghanistan did not need another war. It had still not recovered from its invasion by the U.S.S.R. in the 1980s (during which the United States funded the mujihadeen that would later enforce the Taliban's rule). Instead of helping recovery, the U.S. invasion has plunged Afghanistan into a new seven years of despair and chaos, with no end in sight.
My issue, as always, is never with the American soldiers in Afghanistan, who have done their best with the mission they've been given. I am disappointed in our national leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike, who feel that the only way to solve any situation is by plunging an impoverished country into war and destruction. I have not yet had a chance to read it, but Greg Mortenson's book, Three Cups of Tea
, gives me hope that there are individual Americans who understand how to help a country like Afghanistan. Mortenson has spent 12 years so far building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the 55 schools that he has erected are a miracle in their communities. Because of these schools, children will choose facts and education over fundamentalism; children will see a friend in the United States of America, and upcoming generations in the Middle East will look to the United States as a source of kindness and development, not warmongers.
There seem to be two approaches to the Middle East these days. The Democrats and Republicans see military force as their greatest chance for making change. The Green Party and people like Greg Mortenson know that only friendship, not bombs, can create peace, development, and understanding.
Wouldn't it be the ultimate tragedy if the 60 Afghan children who were killed in U.S. air strikes on Friday were students at one of Mortenson's schools? It would be a perfect symbol for how policy-makers in Washington are ruining the possibility for progress in Afghanistan.
Labels: Afghanistan, Green, Greg Mortenson, military-industrial complex