We have pissed on Taliban corpses, burned the Quran, and assassinated women and children. Enough for a month?
How about enough, full stop? We are not winning. We are losing. Although Iraq cannot be compared with Afghanistan (in terms of wealth, sophistication, culture), the single comparison that can be made is defeat. As in Vietnam, America has engaged in warfare, sacrificed blood and treasure, only to see defeat. Worse, thousands of Afghans, Americans and other ISAF forces are being maimed or killed for no lasting purpose. When I was in the US Army there was another useless war, from which there was lasting agony -- and we have not learned.
We all know that when US and allied forces withdraw, the Karzai government will last months, not years. Why sacrifice further?
The so-called strategy for withdrawal should be seen for what it is -- a miserable excuse and a compound tragedy. The Taliban rule of Afghanistan, if it were to return, would eliminate freedoms for women, and give safe haven for extremists. Is that worse than today? And, in geopolitical terms, will it make a difference? We must not take those negative consequences lightly, but also must question the purpose and benefit of our continuing presence.
The United States and its diminishing list of "allies" cannot save the world unless we first save ourselves. Put in blunt terms, a Japanese tsunami or the collapse of the Euro zone matters more than who rules in Kabul. We can isolate and even decimate militants in southern Afghanistan; we have fewer weapons against other global dangers.
Let's get a grip on ourselves and wrap our heads around some rudimentary understandings of global politics. We should be able to control events in one of the world's poorest countries from a distance rather than with 100,000 troops on the ground and billions of dollars per year. There are other methods that technology or special forces provide. Let's get out now.
There are far more urgent global issues, not the least of which are Iran, Syria, North Korea, and the list goes on. For god's sake, let's grasp priorities. We overthrew the Taliban regime for a good reason more than a decade ago. But there is no longer a good reason -- or a moral cause -- for killing innocents, alienating Islam, and the deaths of Americans or other allied forces.
That three thousand innocent people died almost twelve years ago should not countenance policies that compound our loss. Americans are tired and exhausted from prolonged defeats. Let us focus on rebuilding our strengths.
Daniel N. Nelson is CEO of Global Concepts & Communications and previously served in the Defense and State departments.