In Afghanistan–Continued Occupation is Immoral

Q: In the wake of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s dismissal as chief commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, … Continued

Q: In the wake of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s dismissal as chief commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Congress is evaluating our policy and presence there. Is it time for the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan? Do we have a moral responsibility to stay or to leave?

Let’s be honest–our eight-year-old presence in Afghanistan is no longer a war, it has become an ongoing occupation conducted at an unbearable cost of lives and resources, paid by both the Afghan and the American people. We spend a million dollars to keep each soldier there. Imagine the jobs that money could create, the health care it could provide, the schools it could build! But far worse is the toll in lives–over a thousand of our own soldiers and uncounted Afghans.

Military occupation is no way to win hearts and minds. The Karzai government is corrupt, and our support for it undermines trust. There is no moral justification for occupation, nor is it strategic: our continued presence inflames hatred and creates a climate that furthers violence.

There is a moral and strategic path, but it require a shift in our thinking, the same kind of shift we make when we change from industrial, toxic agriculture to organic farming. Instead of simply trying to kill the pests, whether they are insects or suspected terrorists, we ask: “What are the conditions that are favoring the destructive elements? How do we change those conditions and give a competitive edge to the beneficial forces?”

In a garden, we feed the soil and look to the health of the plants. In a country, we would support all the efforts that truly feed the health and life of the people–from schools and rebuilding efforts to energy projects and food growing. Instead of funding war, we’d fund peace. Instead of massive, disruptive projects with huge budgets–most of which never reach the people, we’d fund small-scale, local, hands-on projects, on the model of something like the Grameen Banks of Pakistan, in which tiny amounts of money are loaned to small circles of women who support and are accountable to one another. We’d lend our resources to efforts of cooperation and real growth, and create new conditions.

That’s a longer term path. Perhaps it seems like a ‘soft’ path–too soft for politicians bent on proving their ultra-butch hard-fisted credentials. But it’s a path that might lead somewhere worth going. If we continue to pour lives and funds into military occupation, we’ll prove the truth of that Native American proverb which says “If we don’t change our direction, we’re going to wind up where we’re headed.” Where we’re headed is a continuation of the hellish and desperate conditions we find today. There is no morality in that–only what might seem to be political expediency, short-sighted and ultimately ineffective. The moral and truly courageous path is the path of peace. And today is a good day to call or write your elected representatives, and tell them so!

Written by

  • ColdSun

    Nice insights.To take a more defense approach on Afghanistan, we could ask – war against what ? And of course the answer of US DOS and DoD is – Against AQ.Yet ? Director of CIA Panetta said days ago there are LIKELY 50 or less AQ in Afghanistan.So, the argument could be made- and I’m sure many soldiers ask this – who are trying to kill and why ? The entire effort has been flawed since its inception.I noticed in my own research General Tommy Franks- the senior Pentagon architect of this ‘war’ ? Just up and left- and decided he’d take up banking and took a job on the Board of Directors at Bank of America- which John Thain said of BOA after the ML Acquisition ? BofAML will be the most powerful financial institution in the world.Seems General Tommy Franks moved to the REAL power – and said to hell with the US military obligations.I guess money does that.Odd that money is actually given value by ALL participants in a society- money REALLY is a community tool- not to be hoarded or pocketed, after all- all you are pocketing is the integrity of the community that props up its value.The same is probably true of words and language culture.I suppose some greater challenge can come along to dwarf the failed US foreign policy in Afghanistan- WHATEVER it was about – I personally feel it was about paving access to the Caspian Sea – until mean ole global warming showed up to say- maybe all that oil in the Caspian Sea won’t be worth anything anyway.I’m PRETTY confident energy policy is directly tied to Iraq and Afghanistan – lies lies and more lies from the Bush folks – then again, look at BP – same thing – lies lies and more lies.Now, imagine if the oil cartel managed to put in a puppet president in 2000- you’d EXPECT – lies lies and more lies.And I do say- I think that’s what we got from Bush.On the plus side- Bush LIKELY has caused enough damage this nation will no longer be able to survive – so, on the plus side ? ironically ? the REAL threat ? WAS bush ? but more so ? at LEAST at the end of the day we can say- nationalism dies.One world -one people- anything else is a delusion- unless of course, you wouldn’t take a kidney or heart from a ‘terrorist’ if needed to live in a transplant operation eh ? How sad we can look at Organs as if they are just organs – but when we look at the whole of the person – we say- ‘terrorist- SHOOT’.Tim MiltzDon’t mention all the flies that are attracted to fuel this oil fiasco into a phony religious war.

  • APaganplace

    Cause, you know, we Pagans have Gods, and particularly in this case Goddesses of war, too. We should heed what They teach, too. Know that what McCain tries to dust off and call almost verbatim ‘Peace With Honor’ (Couldn’t believe my ears, either) is… Not a winnable strategy unless we’re willing to be real bad guys, and no one wants to be bad guys like that. One thing we can say for America is that we don’t believe in ‘winning’ like *that.* But trying to ‘halfway-sorta-kinda’ do ‘kinder, gentler’ imperialism is both ill-starred in that place and not effectual. We don’t pay attention to what Afghanistan *is,* that’s the problem. The Taliban has a way of cutting off people’s daughters’ heads, and that’s no more popular there than in any tribal land. It seems to me that playing ball with Kharzai serves very little. People there need the means to really live for themselves, it’s true, and I say, anything the U.S. military does there should mean that our military might has *their* back, rather than trying to make it be the other way around. There are certain people there whose butts we have every right of vengeance to kick. These people also want to oppress people who are stubbornly-independent. America is not impotent, here, militarily. But we need to understand that if we are to do any good there, we must be strong friends and *guests* in that country. Or else go.

  • Athena4

    The only army to ever subjugate Afghanistan after Alexander’s was Genghis Khan’s. And he did it by massacring (sp?) every man, woman, and child in Herat. Tamerlane did a pretty good job in that department, too. But, he managed to leave enough people alive to govern the city. It’s not called “the Graveyard of Empires” for nothing.