Category: Afghanistan

Predictable consequences

Rev. Terry Jones

Reportedly as many as 20 U.N. workers were killed today in Afghanistan during a protest turned violent, and at least two of the dead were beheaded. Demonstrators were protesting the March 20 burning of a Koran by controversial Gainesville, Fla., preacher Terry Jones.

Jones had threatened to burn Korans last September 11 to mark the anniversary of the attacks on America by a group of Muslim extremists. He was pressured, talked, or bribed out of doing it, to the great relief of an anxious nation. But apparently he was determined to carry out his threat sooner or later; on March 20 — “International Judge the Koran Day” — he conducted a mock trial of the Muslim holy book. The book was found guilty of causing murder, rape, and terrorism and was burned.

There was no way under American law to stop Jones’ actions last September, and while he was eventually dissuaded, it was not until after he’d been given far more than his 15 minutes of fame by our ogling media. To the media’s credit, they stayed relatively quiet about the recent book burning. Still, word reached Afghanistan, with deadly results.

An Islamophobic Christian preacher, protected by our Constitution, deliberately desecrates the holy book of more than a billion Muslims. Outraged Muslims half a world away in Afghanistan react violently and kill U.N. workers, none of whom were American.

So who’s to blame for this tragedy? Where does the responsibility lie?

Are you sure?


Update: A later story in the New York Times gives more details of the incident.

Leave Libya to the U.N.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has explained clearly that establishing a no-fly zone over Libya means bombing Libyan air defenses. Enforcing a no-fly zone could also mean bombing airfields and/or shooting down Libyan aircraft.

That’s war, folks. Bombing another country is tantamount to declaring war. The US doesn’t need and cannot afford another war. Remember Afghanistan? We went in there to get bin Laden and his followers. That was in 2002. Bin Laden is gone but we’re still there. And Iraq. We went in there just to take out Saddam Hussein. That was in 2003. Hussein was caught that year and executed in 2006, but we’re still there.

Enough of trying to fix the rest of the world. A revolution or a civil war in Libya is Libya’s problem. We have more than enough problems to deal with right here at home.

Michael Steele: So wrong and yet so right

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele put his foot in his mouth last week at a fundraiser in Connecticut. He was caught on video making some oddly contradictory comments:

“Keep in mind again, for our federal candidates, this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”

“It was the president who was trying to be cute by half by flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan.”

“Well, if he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.”

First, everyone knows the war in Afghanistan was begun by Pres. George Bush in response to the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S. There probably wasn’t a person in this country who didn’t want to go after Osama bin Laden to avenge that day. To say it’s a war of Obama’s choosing, as Steele did, is to confirm you were either living in a cave or on another planet at the time. I cannot imagine what he was thinking to say something so clearly at odds with historical fact, and then two sentences later being so dead on with his history.

It may be a Republican position that Obama was “trying to be cute” by turning our focus from the distraction of Iraq — “Bush’s War” — back to our original objective, Afghanistan. But I doubt either party wants to be guilty of publicly trivializing a war as a president’s effort to be “cute.” War is never “cute,” nor are the sacrifices of the men and women who fight that war.

As for the history of war in Afghanistan, Steele got that exactly right; no outside power has ever achieved a ground war victory there. That’s something Republicans don’t want to admit. And probably, since Obama is continuing that war, Dems don’t want to admit it either. Saying or implying that a current war is unwinnable is never good for troop morale, and in an election year it’s particularly unwise.

Of course, many private citizens not fighting the war or making the decisions agree with Steele and history; the war now being fought is unwinnable, should not be pursued, and is a waste of U.S. blood, treasure, and reputation. Osama bin Laden is no longer in Afghanistan and, according to a CIA report last week, there are fewer than 100 of his al Qaeda followers left there. Our quarry has left the country; so should we.