Every once in a while – today is one of those times – I find myself wondering what on earth we are doing in Afghanistan except getting Americans and Afghans killed. I was reminded of all this by a Eugene Robinson column in today's Washingon Post called, "The hazy path home."
Robinson quotes President Obama as saying that we "went to war to make sure al-Qaeda could never use this country (Afghanistan) to launch attacks against us." Robinson argues that we've already done that and I would certainly agree. But deaths continue and American officials talk about keeping troops there until 2024.
I never was quite sure why we invaded in the first place. It was to crush Al Queda, I suppose, and avenge the 9/11 attacks on this country. But surely we've done that. Osama bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda, whatever is left of it, isn't what it used to be.
You could almost argue that it's an American trait to get into these hassles without being a bit sure of how we'll get out of them. Our involvement in Vietnam, if memory serves, started because France lost a colony. 58,000 Americans died there. France never got the colony back. What on earth was the point of it all?
The Afghans have a history of resisting invaders – first the British in the 19th century, then the Soviets in the 20th, now us in the 21st. The Brits and the Soviets were smart enough, eventually, to leave. Can't we be that smart too?
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.
from Rudyard Kipling's "The Young British Soldier"