Wednesday, April 18, 2012

USA Millitary, only as good as it's leaders? Afghanistan

Once again the US military is in the headlines re the action of some of its men in Afghanistan. This time it is re the photos taken of men either beside dead insurgents or holding body parts.
Surely in any culture this is pretty low. It says little for the officers who theoretically oversee the actions of those they command. I am not trying to create a belief that soldiers on the ground act like mythical ‘knights of old,’ but the latest actions do little for the overall respect that the USA would like to believe they are viewed by the Afghanistan people.
It reminds us of some of the other atrocities that the troops have been involved in over the last few years and once again brings to mind the question about why the USA and its partners are still in Afghanistan.
Is there any real evidence that the prolonged war has had any benefits for the Afghanistan people?  Yes some girls have started to go to school after the Taliban banned their involvement in anything other than staying at home. Yes there has been some rebuilding of damaged infrastructure, but I wonder at how long these gains will remain intact.
It seems that even in Kabul, that the President virtually lives surrounded by security and in compound-like conditions. The same goes for any Westerners or Government officials.
Can the battle in/for Afghanistan ever be won? I doubt it. The USA and its military partners (including NZ) have been involved in other unwinnable wars (Vietnam) yet they have still not learnt their lesson. It is not the God-ordained responsibility of the USA to be the policeman for the world, dragging in unwilling ‘siblings’ to legitimize their actions.
Look beyond Afghanistan’s border to Pakistan. The provinces bordering Afghanistan are impossible to govern for the Pakistan Government. They seem incapable and possibly unwilling to stop the flow of the Taliban and their supporters entering Afghanistan at will. Perhaps they are trying to play a ‘balancing act--- that is, keeping their ‘foot in both camps.’
What would happen if all foreign forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan? The example of Vietnam springs to mind. The forces of the embattled Southern Regime were quickly overrun. What has happened since? Gradually, the reunited Vietnam has changed and slowly connected its economy to the wider region. I am not saying that life is anything like that of the West and the freedoms we all take for granted, but nor does it resemble a Stalinist Regime of the past. None of this happened over night, but the war that has dragged on in Afghanistan has to be worse than waiting for the Taliban to change to a ‘softer’ version of what we have seen when they ruled.
I find it hard to believe that the Taliban is not without division within the leadership. Are they so different to the Vietnamese Communists, who also held fanatical political beliefs--- their religion, one might say? The form of Islam that the Taliban practice must be seen as fundamentalists in nature. Maybe there is a difference. One didn’t hear the Communists preaching death as a pathway to heaven, where many virgins awaited the arriving hero, who had just blown himself up with the blood of innocents mixed in with the body pieces, now held up by Western soldiers.
How long would the Taliban rule, unchanged? How many victims would suffer under their rule? One can almost feel a new justification to stay and try to prevent such a scenario, but at what cost to those nations participating in this hopeless ‘policing action.’
Damn--- I wish I had the answer.