Not A Forgotten War

As I spent the last weeks working and writing on national security, what jumped out at me over and over is that while I believe we are slowly, painfully forcing a better debate on Iraq, the war we began in Afghanistan after 9/11 has become kind of a forgotten war — even though it is the real epicenter of the terror threat. I was struck by how much in meeting after meeting I heard that Afghanistan was falling apart. But where’s the sense of urgency? I’ve tried to pull together that picture as best as I could — and a specific — no fooling around — get tough policy for Afghanistan to rescue this effort. I’m talking about it today at Howard University.

I don’t think there are any more serious issues to our security than what’s happening and not happening in Afghanistan, and what needs to happen — this isn’t a Jeremiad by any means, but I feel like if we don’t lay it out as clearly and adamantly as we can we’re going to look back and see a huge threat unaddressed while we were completely focused on Iraq. And it’s a threat we know all too well has real life and death consequences.

Right now everyone’s treating Afghanistan like a sideshow. The numbers tell the story. Seven times more troops in Iraq – which even the Administration now admits had nothing to do with 9/11 – than in Afghanistan, where the killers still roam free. You could get whiplash watching the Administration policy change from day to day. On Sunday, asked which of the 26 countries in the alliance were dragging their feet in Afghanistan, NATO’s top commander General James Jones, a four-star general and former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, replied, “All of them.” Tuesday, Secretary Rice said we’ll “pay for it” if Afghanistan again devolves into a terrorist stronghold. But just yesterday the Administration refused to heed its own warnings and refused to send the troops the commanders on the ground said we needed. Tragedy, scandal — and today? Silence. Talk about cut and run. You need to raise some hell about this.

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68 Responses to Not A Forgotten War

  1. Teresa says:

    I hear ya loud and clear, kj.

    that was so quickly grabbed by BushInc and turned to terror… it made me as sick than the attacks did, to be completely honest. I gave up my wonderful, calm life as an artist and dove into the fray

    And I want results for my effort!

    The number of times the word terror has been said in these five years! It’s so far beyond absurdity I can’t even think.

    I still say we are being gamed. This terror thing has gotten preposterous. Someone change the tape.

  2. KJ says:

    Teresa, I swear to the heavens, go re-read Siddhartha. I was just down at the bottom of the well, which was as dry as a 1,000 year old bone, re-read Sidd, slept, woke up and voila, the well was full.

    We all have a part to play, we all get a seat at the table.
    And I’ll fight anyone who says different. 😉

  3. KJ says:

    Whoops, sorry Teresa, posted over you. Yes, let’s change the tape.

    Check out the 4GW that Battlebob posts about sometime. I think it’s quite an evolved view of “war.” Definately changes the defination of the word by the actions it proposes instead of “kill, kill, kill” as you said.

  4. Teresa says:

    My well is overflowing at the moment. That’s why I would prefer that my fellow countrymen abandon this idea of terror and think about some other things. I live here as it is and I’d like a palatable society, if at all possible.

  5. KJ says:

    I’m sooo glad to hear your well is overflowing.
    I always worry about wells going dry. 😉

  6. Teresa says:

    Battlebob’s thing sound interesting kj.

    In reality, I am feeling good about the near future as usual. Things are improving. I’d just like to know if there is any other word in the English language beside terror.

  7. KJ says:

    So, what should we re-name the War on Terror?
    (Which is a silly concept in the first place, much like the War on Drugs is a silly concept.)

  8. KJ says:

    “If each day falls
    inside each night,
    there exists a well
    where clarity is imprisoned.

    We need to sit on the rim
    of the well of darkness
    and fish for fallen light
    with patience.
    ~~Pablo Neruda
    from “The Sea and The Bells”

  9. Teresa says:

    It’s ridiculous. Call it a War on Cooties.
    A War on the Bogeyman.

  10. Probus says:

    According to Sen. Kerry himself, Al Qaeda right now has a presence in 65 countries all over the world. That is a shocking number to grasp. There are more terrorists in the world today then there were on 9-11. Osama bin Laden committed a horrible crime on September 11, 2001. We as Americans need to find him and capture him and bring him to justice. I believe and hope we will catch him one day, but I don’t think bin Laden will be caught alive, regardless, it must be done. It is the right thing to do.

    Before 9-11 bin Laden committed atrocities towards thousands of Afghani men, women, and children who did not share his false ideology, who were murdered and tortured. Then on September 11, 2001 in one move he ruined the lives of 3000 innocent Americans. These Americans were shown no mercy or decency. The other victims of that sad and tragic day were the family members of those unfortunate people who lost their lives. These fellow Americans suffer and grieve everyday and will continue to do so. Every year we remember the innocents who lost their lives on that day. Then we go about our business, living our own lives. But these victims they live with the horror of September 11th everyday. It never goes away for them.

    These people still need answers as do we. I appreciate the efforts of our government to do everything it can to find terrorists and bring them to justice as they must. But I think they need to do more. The forming of the 9-11 commission was a very important step towards finding where our communication channels failed and why and what can be done to make sure that 9-11 never happens again. The Bush Administration tried to prevent the 9-11 commission from being formed and once it was formed they tried to block access to important information that would have shed light on why we failed to prevent this awful attack from taking place.

    As stated by Sen. Kerry so many times during the 2004 presidential campaign and since, we need to find Osama bin Laden. Not finding him, letting him escape in Tora Bora was a blunder of immense proportions. It was a golden opportunity missed by the Bush Administration. Reinforcements should have been sent to the CIA when they requested additional troops to find and kill bin Laden.

    It is extremely distressing to see that because of misjudgments and missteps in Iraq we now see a strong Al Qaeda presence there when there was none before we went there. It is being reported that the western province of Al Anbar in Iraq is now politically in the hands of Al Qaeda Sunnis. I cannot stress how dangerous that could be for the Americans, Iraqis, and the Middle East region as a whole. The southern section of Afghanistan is now in the hands of the Taliban who are now borrowing the suicide-bomber tactics of Iraqi terrorists and insurgents who wish to harm Americans in particular. This could have been prevented and we should take appropriate steps through our military presence there and weed them out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    It is always good and proper to advocate peace in all parts of the world. But, Americans have been killed, so in that sense the War on Terror was and is a necessary thing. Our fellow Americans were hurting after 9-11 and the War on Terror was an important step to take. It provided solace but it also provided hope that we would receive justice at some point and it gave us a direction for the future. It told people like bin Laden that we took his actions seriously. Forming the Department of Homeland Security was also an important thing to do. But mismanagement and un-organization has created more problems which need to be fixed so that this department can use resources given to it by Congress and carry out its purpose in an efficient way. This administration has bungled it very badly. They had good ideas to fight the terrorists but they were poorly executed.

    If former president Clinton or Al Gore were in office at the time of the attacks they would have done the same things. Any president who takes office will swear to protect Americans as it is part of the presidential oath and he must abide by it. If Mr. Kerry had been elected as our president in 2004, I doubt if he would have disbanded the War on Terror, or stopped looking for the terrorists in Iraq of Afghanistan. He would have been and can be a very strong and able commander-in-chief. He is what America desperately needs in terms of leadership and vision.

    A president can go to war if he feels he must but he must only do it as a last resort. As commander-in-chief that is his job. It is always good to advocate diplomacy but the option of going to war can never be taken off the table. As Sen. Kerry has repeatedly stated diplomacy must be used vigorously and intelligently. It was extensively used by Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Carter, Bush 41, and Clinton. Diplomacy has been absent in this administration, they must exercise it if they want to lead the world. Sometimes wars are necessary and they become necessary due to the situations which require them. The war in Afghanistan was necessary even though innocent civilians have died there. The war in Iraq was not.

    Cindy Sheehan is a peace activist who paid the ultimate price by losing her beloved child in the Iraq war. She plays a very important role in our dialogue to find a solution to the Iraq war. But the war in Afghanistan must continue. Just as it was appropriate for then President Clinton to send troops to Kosovo, to end the ethnic cleansing in that region which in the end led to a lasting peace in that region. However, he should have sent help sooner to end the Rwandan conflict which also saw ethnic cleaning.

    When Sen. Kerry advocates pulling troops out of Iraq he does not intend to completely remove all US forces from Iraq, some troops will always remain in that region as they must. We must maintain a presence in Iraq for a very long time. We went into that country, now we cannot abruptly leave. That is not the position the senator has taken. Unlike the distortions of the republicans he has not advocated leaving immediately neither has Rep. Murtha. Though I believe Sen. Kerry has a more prudent and cautious plan than Rep. Murtha who wishes that troops pull out in 6 months. Under Sen. Kerry’s plan the Iraqis would have a year to take control of Iraq. The republicans like to say that Sen. Kerry wants to cut and run. That is false. Some troops will always remain in Iraq not doing so will throw the whole country into a civil war which has already begun on a small scale. The terrorists are there now though mostly there are insurgents in Iraq.

    With Afghanistan, we can never completely pull out of there either, which is under the command of NATO. We must maintain a presence even if it is a small one in parts of the world that include terrorists who want to kill and hurt innocent Americans and people of other countries. The world is now an extremely dangerous place. Much as we would like peace to prevail everywhere it is not possible until we find the terrorists who want to kill us and other innocent civilians around the world. Innocent people have been killed in the name of Islam with a false murderous ideology. People of many different faiths and beliefs have been killed and their families are paying the ultimate price as they suffer everyday the loss of losing loved ones. Going to war may not bring their loved ones back, but it gives them justice, which can mean a lot to someone who has lost a loved one. As Sen. Kerry has stated we must find bin Laden and bring him to justice by whatever means are available to our military. And to not doing so has been the height of incompetence by this administration.

  11. battlebob Says:
    September 15th, 2006 at 5:42 am

    Complete agreement BB!

    You do have to try to solve the root causes of the various things that drive some people to use terrorism to kill innocent people. But those who do resort to or plan to perform such acts must be hunted down and killed or imprisoned. Always and wherever they can be. Certain people, like violent religious extremists, whether Muslim or Christian, cannot be reasoned with at all. They must be eliminated.

    Concerning those who leaked Valerie Plame’s profession and her CIA front company. The guy below agrees with us both as well:

    “We need more human intelligence. That means we need more protection for the methods we use to gather intelligence and more protection for our sources, particularly our human sources, people that are risking their lives for their country.

    Even though I’m a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.”

    – President George HW Bush on 4/26/99 at the dedication ceremony for the George Bush Center for Intelligence (CIA)

  12. KJ says:

    Dave, agree. There are always going to be human beings who resist reason. We search for those people as we pass out bread to those whose lives have been torn upside down. In Afganistan, that means entire generations of people.

    The age of big scale bombs was over after WWII. Hey, I love seeing those B2 Spirit Stealth Bombers fly over my house every day, they are an awesome disply of American technology. But I always hope they aren’t carrying bombs, but instead are carrying people who can be dropped into zones to work with the land and the people.

    Capture OBL yes, restore Afghanistan at least to the point where the people have a chance to survive… absolutely.

  13. KJ says:

    Morning Star Development

    I had the opportunity to interview Mary Hinde for a county paper in Northwest Missouri. Upstanding work done by these people.

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