Scenes from the Landscape of a Long War, as Viewed from a Distance:
Meanwhile, over there:
In three weeks in September, there were 42 attacks on humanitarian aid groups in Afghanistan, many of them with improvised explosive devices, according to the Afghanistan Non-Governmental Safety Organization, twice as many as last year.
Afghan Ambassador Said Jawad said that his country needed at least 20,000 more troops to help train Afghani troops. There are currently 87,000 of those after eight years. Jawad said they need 250,000 more.
This is not to mention that "A rocket fired by insurgents in Ghazni province, south of Afghanistan, hit a bus killing two persons and injuring 25 others on Wednesday, a statement of Interior Ministry said." "Two bomb blasts in the south and east Afghanistan left five persons including two Taliban fighters dead on Wednesday." "US-led forces in Afghanistan say they have killed more than 100 members of [the] Taliban in [the] northeast of the conflict-torn country over a period of 48 hours." "American and Afghan troops swept through forested mountains in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, killing 40 militant fighters in a hunt for insurgents responsible for one of the war's deadliest attacks on U.S. troops."
Oh, and by the way, "Two heroin labs were destroyed, from which 306 kg opium were seized and burnt over the past three days in separate operations in northern Badakhshan province...Some 90 tons of poppy seeds, 1,800 kg of opium and 35 tons of ammonium nitrate, which are used for making explosive materials, were found in an operation in Kajaki district of country's poppy growing province Helmand of southern Afghanistan on Oct. 5...One ton of hashish, 10 tons of chemicals for making explosive and weapons were confiscated and a compound, where has been used by militants for making roadside bombs, were destroyed in Garmsir district of Helmand on Oct. 4."
In the U.K., on this eighth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, ostensibly to get Osama bin Laden, 56% of people polled oppose the war. However, in the U.S., 65% said that it's cool that Americans continue to die in Afghanistan for at least another 1-2 years if it will "eliminate the threat of terrorists operating in Afghanistan." Only 49% said that America would be successful in stopping the Taliban.
President Barack Obama has indicated, during his walk in the desert of deliberations, that he will not draw down in Afghanistan in order to concentrate on, you know, finding terrorists, the so-called "Biden option." Indeed, it seems now that the decision everyone is waiting on is how many additional troops he's going to send. Obama pooh-poohed the idea that he was thinking of "doubling down" on Afghanistan as a straw-man argument. But what else would you call it? "Escalation" would probably do. It seems the corrective that Obama may offer to the Bush strategy of ignoring Afghanistan until it was too late is to rewind the clock back to the start of the war and do what some believe we should have done when we were so righteously and innocently seeking vengeance in 2001. But it ain't 2001 anymore.
The Boston Globe columnist and author James Carroll has long been one of the most brutal critics of the war in Afghanistan, even back when such talk was heresy for much of the left - we had to support Afghanistan because it was the good war, in contrast to the bad one in Iraq. He wrote on September 14:
"We broke Iraq and Afghanistan, and now they own us. The main effect of our intervention in both places is that endemic conflicts (which predate our presence) are now being fought with unimaginably more lethal firepower. Especially dangerous is the Taliban’s transformation by its war with America from a crackpot cult with local reach into a mythic resistance force drawing ever wider support." The only thing the Rude Pundit would add is that we're also in the middle of a war between rival drug lords, too, and that ain't ever gonna go well.
This isn't Vietnam. The casualty count was much higher back then. And, wrong-headed as it was strategically to fight in this way, the war in Afghanistan did start with a provocation. But is anyone really convinced anymore that another ten years of battle in Afghanistan will make us one millimeter more secure? And could we maybe think about moving an anti-war movement offline and into the streets?
In Purcellville, Virginia, they learned that hometown boy Stephan Mace was killed. His body was returned yesterday, with five others, to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. And their deaths made us safer how?