Polimom recently asked AC what she thought happened first after 9/11, and I was completely unsurprised to hear her say that we’d gone into Iraq.
Now, AC is nine, and to a child, the 3+ years of the Iraqi War is the normal state of affairs. The rest of us, though, remember Afghanistan, the Taleban, and the connection to al Qaeda / bin Laden…. don’t they?
Polimom wonders how many were surprised by the rioting this weekend in Kabul?
KABUL, Afghanistan, May 29 — The Afghan capital erupted Monday in the worst street violence since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, following a fatal traffic accident involving a U.S. military truck. Mobs of men and boys, many of them shouting slogans against the government and United States, set fires, attacked buildings and clashed with police for about seven hours.
Hotel windows were raked with gunfire, a foreign aid agency was torched and looted, and numerous police posts were destroyed. Some rioters brandished AK-47 assault rifles; gunfire sounded throughout the city and clouds of black smoke wafted in the air. Dozens of vehicles were smashed and burned.
The violence was fed by rumors that U.S. troops had shot and killed civilians, which U.S. military spokesmen denied.
The media (and public) eye moved off of Afghanistan with unseemly haste as we rolled on with other agendas, and the US and its allies have been juggling multiple balls ever since. Unfortunately, we’re not very good jugglers.
4+ years after the Taleban was overthrown, Barzai still huddles in Kabul in his “bubble of safety”, unable to form a government. Meanwhile, the provinces are in chaos, fighting rages, and the Taleban is regrouping.
Mash has an excellent post this morning about “The Great Game” that’s been played out in Afghanistan for nearly two centuries – a game that has cost millions of lives, billions of dollars, and has never been won. He says, in part:
The Great Game between the United States and the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was launched in earnest. Over the next 10 years the Soviets unsuccessfully battled an insurgency, the Afghan Mujahideen, backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. The Soviet Army lost over 15,000 soldiers in Afghanistan while over a million Afghans lost their lives in the same period. Yet after 10 years of fighting the Soviet Union was unsuccessful in breaking the back of the insurgency. On February 15, 1989 the battered and demoralized Soviet Red Army completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
It’s a very well written description of what has happened there (go read it all…). There’s something else, though, that grew out of the American – Soviet round of The Game: our funding and backing of the insurgency during that decade gave birth to the trained, organized terrorists under Osama bin Laden. We were involved right up to our eyebrows,contributing largely to our current problems with fundamentalist Islamic fanaticism.
Even though country after country has approached the situation in Afghanistan and left in demoralized defeat, Polimom initially had hopes that an organized and committed coalition of countries could finally turn the tide for them. Unfortunately, It looks as if little has changed, in spite of all the billions of dollars and thousands of lives. The Taleban (and “insurgency”) in the provinces — Kandahar, in particular — are fighting to come back. The opium trade – the cornerstone of Afghanistan’s economy, is booming… yet some of the spark to the rioting flame was the dreadful economic conditions and unemployment.
Meanwhile, we’ve been distracted by all the brightly colored balls we’re juggling.
Someone recently asked in a comment what one does when, no matter how good or helpful a motive might be, the recipient of our intended largesse simply cannot or will not accept it.
Polimom had no answer for them, then or now. I do wonder, though, whether sustained focus on Afghanistan might not have been a better investment of money…. and lives.