Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Surging Toward...What?

It's hard to accept that we're talking about another military surge. I keep wondering how history will record and judge these two debacles. When the dust settles -- and those are some mighty dusty countries -- these will be the two most ghastly military tragedies every perpetrated by U.S. Forces. Through no fault of their own, I might add.

I think Ghandi was right. We should have hit the ground running, ready to kill them with kindness. Instead, we had a giant invasion, a massive, intimidating show of force... and then our troops sat around for 6-7 years, wondering what the plan was. It appears there was no plan.

But what if the plan was immediately upon "stabilizing" (whatever that criteria was), we had started building schools and colleges, hospitals and clinics, utilities, roads, and bridges. What if we had done something productive for people who had barely left their caves? Of course it would have cost money; certainly no less than we have squandered on graft and corruption, on privatizing what should have been public services.

The Afghanis might be looking around right about now and thinking, "Hey, democracy's not so bad. I like having reliable electricity. My kids, even the girls (gasp!) are getting an education." What could the Taliban offer by comparison? More restrictions, stonings, rapes? It was an opportunity to draw a stark comparison between religious intolerance and a free, tolerant type of society. It's one thing to hear about the decadence and indulgences of the west; something else entirely to experience first hand how that kind of open society can impact your children's futures.

I guess some kind of surge is inevitable; we certainly can't leave Afghanistan worse than it was when we arrived. Of course, I could be wrong about this. It's happened once or twice.

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