Leave Afghanistan

On Monday, a former professor and I were chatting, and the war in Afghanistan came up. I have been supporting a 100 percent pull-out from that country- as well as Iraq- for some time now, and think that with the General McChrystal issue hitting the fan (for the record, I support the president’s acceptance of the general’s resignation), it’s as good a time as any to write about why we need to leave the country.

First, we should leave for humanitarian and ethical reasons. We are sending service members to that country to die for an Afghan leader who is corrupt, and whose brother is a criminal. What is our goal over there? The Afghanistan people are, at best, a tribal people with no real central government and no willingness to even have a central government. Being there to have access to Pakistan is just not a good enough reason anymore. Secondly, to (admittedly, hesitantly) quote a front-page poster at Daily Kos, the worse Afghanistan gets, the less likely we are to leave. Since when does a proper cost-benefit analysis include sending good money after bad, and since when does honoring those who have valiantly served, been injured and/or died in Afghanistan include sending more young people to die without cause?

Secondly, we should leave because the American people don’t support this war. Oh, they say they do. But as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert described in December of last year, our support is minimal. Some money or other means of assistance is sent by those affected directly or indirectly by the war (friends and family with military members overseas, etc.) and some truly patriotic Americans, but most of the nation is satisfied with rhetoric pulled from blogs, talking heads and Associated Press articles. (Oh, yeah, and they have yellow ribbons on their bumpers.) As Herbert put it,

The reason it is so easy for the U.S. to declare wars, and to continue fighting year after year after year, is because so few Americans feel the actual pain of those wars. We’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than we fought in World Wars I and II combined. If voters had to choose right now between instituting a draft or exiting Afghanistan and Iraq, the troops would be out of those two countries in a heartbeat.