Monday, February 27, 2012

How Afghanistan Repays Us

Send tens of thousands of young men and women overseas to invade two countries, overthrow their governments, and facilitate the process of transition to a new regime-- all over a period of more than a decade-- and while most of them are going to behave honorably and intelligently, it is simply unavoidable that you're going to have a few idiots in the mix. Let international agencies like the Brussels-based North Atlantic Treaty Organization take the lead in organizing their efforts, and you're going to have a few more idiots and idiotic incidents.

Very angry and increasingly violent protests have raged for a week now in Afghanistan precisely because of the actions of a couple such idiots-- two NATO personnel who Afghan witnesses have described as Americans were seen burning Korans in a fire pit, an act that anyone-- especially NATO personnel working in the country-- should know by now would offend the people of Afghanistan, incite violence, and put other Americans in danger. Instead of unfairly blaming all of America or its military for the faux pas, Afghans should be willing to recognize this for what it is-- an isolated incident of two idiots making a stupid mistake.

Unfortunately, America's enemies are ever-willing to paint with broad brush strokes and spin an isolated incident of idiocy into a malicious Koran-burning conspiracy by "the Great Satan" --America and its Western coalition allies. The result has been unrestrained and deadly violence against American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, violence led not only by the civilian population of the country, but even members of its fledgling government, a government that your tax dollars built, paid for, and continue to fund.

A Reuters report from Kabul catalogs the violence:

  • Seven U.S. military trainers were wounded on Sunday when a grenade was thrown at their base in northern Afghanistan...
  • Despite an apology from U.S. President Barack Obama, riots raged across the country for a sixth day on Sunday against the desecration of the Muslim holy book at a NATO air base at Bagram. Some protesters hoisted the white Taliban flag.
  • The Afghan Interior Ministry identified one of its employees as a suspect in the fatal shooting of two U.S. officers in its headquarters a day earlier...
  • One civilian was killed, 15 more were wounded and three policemen injured in riots near the NATO base in northern Kunduz province...
  • The protests have killed 30 people and wounded 200, including two other U.S. troops who were shot dead by an Afghan soldier who joined rallies in the country's east.

This is how the people of Afghanistan are repaying America for sacrificing the material wealth of its own citizens and the blood of their sons and daughters to liberate it from oppressive Taliban rule, patrol its streets, keep it safe, build its schools, modernize its infrastructure, and guarantee its people basic human rights and democratic self-rule.

Does any honest conservative want to reward this kind of behavior with the continued sacrifice of our national treasure and the precious blood of our brave, brightest, and best young men and women? Should Americans continue dying overseas and other Americans continue doing without jobs here at home so we can continue the trillion-dollar fool's errand of civilizing this region? Do the Afghan people deserve it?

After this last week of violence and riots despite ten years of nation-building and freely-flowing American generosity, does anyone actually still think this can work? Or is it finally time for conservative cheerleaders of the nation-building strategy overseas to listen to and understand the inevitable corollary to their own argument that the world-- especially the Middle East-- is filled with people who hate and despise America. The corollary is this: DON'T GIVE THE REST OF THE WORLD ANYTHING. They will gladly take American generosity, then turn around and kill Americans with the weapons that Americans paid for, driving on roads that Americans built, and while drawing a salary from a government propped up with American tax dollars.

Are you finally starting to see a pattern here? American dollars funded and armed Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq during its war with Iran. Hussein turned around and paid us back by threatening to trade Iraqi oil in Euros instead of Dollars, eventually leading to U.S. military escalation at its first opportunity and the first Persian Gulf War. American dollars and military expertise also funded, armed, and supported the Taliban during the 80s so they could fight the Soviets. Then the Taliban turned around and paid us back by harboring the terrorists responsible for 9-11 and refusing to give them up. Now American dollars are funding a new government in Afghanistan, and its members are already attacking American troops and personnel who are there to build and strengthen their country!

It's time for conservatives in this country to really listen to and heed the words of President Ronald Reagan in his autobiography when he wrote about sending U.S. Marines to Lebanon where they were killed:

"Perhaps we didn't appreciate fully enough the depth of the hatred and the complexity of the problems that made the Middle East such a jungle. Perhaps the idea of a suicide car bomber committing mass murder to gain instant entry to Paradise was so foreign to our own values and consciousness that it did not create in us the concern for the marines' safety that it should have.

In the weeks immediately after the bombing, I believe the last thing that we should do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there. If there would be some rethinking of policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off. If that policy had changed towards more of a neutral position and neutrality, those 241 marines would be alive today."

Even as death tolls rise in the Middle East and after seeing record casualty numbers during Obama's management of Washington's efforts there, supporters of nation-building argue that we can't simply leave the region a mess, that because "we broke it, we own it," that we somehow owe it to the Afghan people to remain there until they have a stable society, that we have some moral obligation to them. Not anymore. Not after this last week of violence. Not if even members of their new government, propped up and supported by our presence there, are attacking and murdering our brave troops. I support the troops, not the people of Afghanistan. I believe our government has an obligation to promote America's best interests, not people who hate us and will use any excuse to demonize and kill us. We don't owe them a damned thing. Bring all the troops home right now and let them sort out their own messed up country.





Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
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