Letters to the Editor

Unwinnable war

October 7, 2011


To the editor:

Would someone please explain to me how we can believe that continuing this war in Afghanistan can ever result in victory? The Taliban has safe sanctuary in Pakistan, and we cannot invade Pakistan for many obvious reasons, the first of which is that they are an unpredictable nuclear power.

Our allies in Afghanistan are the members of the totally corrupt central government. We are supposedly turning control over to them when we leave, but they are despised by the general population just as we are viewed as one more outside occupying infidel army, an occupying force that does not share any of their religious beliefs. Afghanistan has been through this many times in its history and no outside force has ever changed anything permanently. The country will wait until we tire of the casualties and invite the Taliban back as soon as we leave and our supposed allies will be forced to flee or die.

The only thing we can do there is to prove once again that we learn nothing at all from history. If Mr. Obama is thinking realistically about a second term in office, then he should realize that the American voters are fed up with these unwinnable wars and bring the troops home as soon as possible, along with those who have cooperated with us there. He should also take a long, hard look at the other 148 countries in the world where we have our troops stationed. I say this as an old veteran who knows war and what it can and cannot do.


Paul R Getto 6 years, 6 months ago

"Would someone please explain to me how we can believe that continuing this war in Afghanistan..." === Because the MIC now has the endless war they have always wanted. They can play with their toys and strategies and the percent of those seriously involved is small enough that the rest of the country doesn't care a great deal about the outcome. I do agree we should abandon the effort, but good luck with that.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe the goal never was to win the war. Maybe it was to confine it to over there, wherever over there is.

uncleandyt 6 years, 6 months ago

Bring our troops home. When We get invaded by the evil-doers, we can fight 'em HERE. The Defense Dept. should be for defense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

And what is "it?"

The Afghans, including the Taliban, couldn't care less about the US. They care about running their country as they believe their religion requires (which includes a good deal of insanity, to be sure-- but no much more so than other theocratic, nationalist movements around the world, including Saudi Arabia and Israel, both US allies.)

It was al Qaeda who attacked the US, and they were only in Afghanistan because they got a foothold there as a part of the proxy war the US was running against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. All the US war in Afghanistan has accomplished is to install an completely corrupt government that has very little control over most of the country, and drive al Qaeda into Pakistan, where they have the protection of the intelligence arm of a government that is another supposed ally.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

If the USA had stayed out of Afghanistan, I think the Afgans could have taken care of the problem by themselves. The Taliban was never popular there. When the USA first invaded, the Taliban was mostly Arabs that were not from Afghanistan.

And, it's a very awkward situation when (more than) two of your allies are enemies of each other. That reminds me of the complex entanglement of alliances that existed in Europe especially just before World War I, and to a point, before World War II as well.

The present entanglements today do not look much better. I've read news from the Middle East just within the last two days that the hope there is to just at least confine the conflict for now.

Hopefully within two generations, the situation there today will look just as ridiculous as the demarcation line that the Berlin Wall represented in 1961.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

Wow, a theocratic government with a Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion and gives all citizens equal rights, including the right to vote. Who would have thought?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

It's not the case that any of the wars we are in are unwinnable. The problem is that the techniques that might be required in order to completely win a war with finality are not considered acceptable today, at least by some. There are exceptions.

A war can easily be won by wiping out a culture that refuses to make peace. We certainly do have the capability to do so today. That's how it's been done for tens of thousands of years.

Rather recent cases in point: The Nazi Party that controlled Germany, and the expansionistic Empire of Japan.

From the point of view of some, we are being way to gentle with the countries we are at war with. Because, we don't want to hurt anyone these days. That seems to be why all the wars since World War II have dragged on for so long.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

I'm serious. I don't want anyone to get hurt. I wish I could stop it, but I don't know what I can do.

Liberty275 6 years, 6 months ago

Quite brutal, yes. But far from all out. I think the wars were fought with restraint to show our enemies we can fight wars at the intensity we choose. In Iraq and Afghanistan, we even told the enemy when we were coming.

You and I hold similar views on the war with a difference here or there, but I hold no illusion that as brutal as we might be in the current wars, we can be magnitudes worse.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

The Nazis had no compunction about wiping out entire cultures. So you're suggesting we emulate them? (rhetorical question-- you espouse that position often, especially with regard to Palestinians.)

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

Bozo, you certainly don't seem to understand much.

"wiping out entire cultures,,,, especially with regard to Palestinians."

Please explain to me exactly why you think I was such good friends with (especially) Waheed Brashier and Kahlid (sorry, forgot his last name).

They were Palestinians.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

(Sorry, Waheed! I probably misspelled your last name. How ya doin', and is your mother in Cairo OK?)

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

(Oh, no! You at the computer store, not only did I leave you out, but your name escapes me at the moment! Remember me? I bought my computer system from you in 1990, and you had one of my Glitter Globes, and later a set of Visible Components on display at your store! How are you, your wife, and your son?)

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

Bozo - thanks for giving me a chance to say "Hi!" to all my Palestinian friends. I appreciate that very much.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

The point is that the Palestinians had zero responsibility for what happened to the Jews in WWII. And, yet, they are the ones who have been required to pay massive reparations to them in the form of being ethnically cleansed from the lands they had lived on for centuries. And they're still paying by being held in a permanent state of siege by the IDF.

When is someone going to pay reparations to them in the same way they have been force to pay reparations to Israel for something they didn't do?

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 6 months ago

"The point is that the Palestinians had zero responsibility for what happened to the Jews in WWII."

Historically untrue, but ok.

uncleandyt 6 years, 6 months ago

It is the case that none of the wars are winnable. The problem is that the attacker is in the wrong. False analysis of what is happening can easily be marketed by the profiteers and repeated by the misinformed. Hurt is at a record high. The wars drag on for money.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 6 months ago

The current regime sure does like bombing people.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

How many times are you going to make that same comment on this award winning....Oh, never mind, that's your line.

Liberty275 6 years, 6 months ago

Don't they prefer drone strikes these days?

50YearResident 6 years, 6 months ago

We can only win this war by "getting out" and let them fight each other. Let them either continue to live in the stone age or have their own little revolution. No outsiders can ever defeat Afganistan. If we were to win there it would become such a big liability to enforce our position that it would become and endless effort again. Let's get out while we can!

oldvet 6 years, 6 months ago

"If Mr. Obama is thinking realistically..."

I don't think he is.

jaywalker 6 years, 6 months ago

It's a stone-age country and seems it always will be. I don't think there was ever any hope of 'winning' a conflict there, just like there were no misgivings about 'nation-building' in Afghanistan. It was turned into a theater of operations to attract Al Qaeda and the Taliban and serve as a strategic central locale to monitor movement in surrounding countries. The whole operation must be bearing fruit in some tremendous yet unknown ways at this point, one has to hope, because small, scattered skirmishes don't seem worth the cost (in any sense of the word) anymore.

somedude20 6 years, 6 months ago

I thought the unwinnable war was telling your wife that she is getting fat. I will update my files!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

That war with your wife can be won very easily. It's won after you are beaten for telling her that.

Stuart Evans 6 years, 6 months ago

News Flash. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not about winning, they are about sustaining profits for large companies; not to mention, we have a bit of an unemployment problem here in the states. War = money.

Joe Hyde 6 years, 6 months ago

I agree. The end of the Cold War threw U.S. defense contractors into a panic: No more evil Russians to fight!

What better way for U.S. defense contractors to regain a long-lasting grip on our national treasury than to have a president (George W. Bush) order a military invasion of Iraq even though Iraq was never involved in the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington?!?

Attack Iraq (a nation that was not massing troops to attack a neighboring state, was not sabre-rattling against the U.S., and whose own military was being patrolled by "no fly zones"). Infuriate Persian and Arab muslims; trigger a Forever War...and then sit back and get filthy rich by selling high-tech weaponry to "defend" our country from people we wronged.

jaywalker 6 years, 6 months ago

Yeah! It's one big conspiracy! And now President Obama, his whole staff, and the Democrats are in on it too!!! The "people we wronged" should be mad at us because their divinely ordained "leaders" take the trillions we give them for oil and keep it for themselves. Our fault, obviously, so we deserve to have planes flown into buildings, killing thousands. We have no right to defend that! The nerve!

When it all comes down to it, we have no need nor right to defend ourselves or our interests? When you wake up and realize the world we line in, get back to me.

Liberty275 6 years, 6 months ago

To be fair, Hussein did repeatedly violate the treaty they signed after Iraq 1. He also was funding terrorists targeting civilians in Israel. Had we not gone after Hussein, the Israelis would have with vengeance. In the end, America going to war with Iraq was a better option because we went in with cool heads and more accurate weapons which spared many civilians.

Today Iraq is an American ally, if a poor one. Had we gone in to back up Israel most of the middle east would now be our enemies.

uncleandyt 6 years, 6 months ago

Nut-quotes will not save us from the fantasies. We must fight fact with fiction. They're coming to take us away, haha. The nuts must be returned to their shells.

uncleandyt 6 years, 6 months ago

Here's how it works ?? Why are you divulging recipes for jihad? Maybe you are trying to help, but please understand that when Sharia law takes over Kansas, your how-to paste-post could be partly to blame. Why do you hate Freedom?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

"Israel -- Muslim 16% "

Prior to WWII, Palestine/Israel was by far majority muslim. I guess you're not satisfied with the comprehensiveness of the ethnic cleansing done there up to now.

beatrice 6 years, 6 months ago

That old saying of standing on someone else's shoulders and calling yourself tall comes to mind.

FHNC -- too bad you never met barryp on these boards. You two would have really hit it off.

uncleandyt 6 years, 6 months ago

Huge wad of nonsense ! Hating strangers is bad enough, encouraging strangers to hate other strangers is also bad enough. Enough! Think for yourself.

beatrice 6 years, 6 months ago

The dead have risen. Lots of zombies on these boards.

olegleon 6 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

tbaker 6 years, 6 months ago

Winning in Afghanistan is defined as not being blamed for Afghanistan's failure.

I agree with the author, although it is naive to think the war in Afghanistan will end anytime soon. NATO will not be left holding the bag. Europe (synonymous with NATO) won't be blamed for its failure. The US president, present or future, won't be the person blamed for its failure either. The war really isn't in Afghanistan, its root cause is in Pakistan, more specifically in the Waziristan province of Pakistan. The Paks don't want the Taliban anymore than Afghanistan does, so it is in their interest to do just enough to keep the US aide flowing, but do nothing to really help Afghanistan. After all, helping Afghanistan is clearly not in Pakistan's interest. Afghans historically hate the Paks, so to offer real assistance means enabling a second enemy state to rise on a border. The US thinks Pakistan is a "partner" when in reality the people running the place and double-crossing the US are simply a less crazy, slightly more predictable alternative to letting the Islamist nuts assume control of the nuclear weapons. The US also likes the idea of having bases near the Iranian border making bookends out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Funny thing, given the Iranians haven't invaded anyone for 2,000 years. True enough, Iran is a barbaric place, but nowhere near the enemy we make them out to be. We've done them a huge favor by invading Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearing the end of my 2nd year in Kabul, I can say with certainty that nothing will change until this country gets a new President and several modifications made to its constitution. In the mean time, fear of blame, fear of 9/11 part 2, fear of the Russians going "I told ya so" will keep the US in this awful place for a very long time.

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