Sunday, March 11, 2007

More Than Five Years Later: Afghanistan

The other war goes on. I've mentioned before that it was reading about Afghanistan that more than anything convinced me that we had no business going to war in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan was never finished and there were plenty of early signs that Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush Administration didn't know what they were doing and some early blunders in Afghanistan were the proof. Actually the failure of the senior Bush to address Afghanistan in during his own term in office seems to be the one case where junior copied his father and failed to finish the job he started—before rushing off to a war we did not need.

Here's a story by Guy Kuvnor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat about Afghanistan and local memories in the US:
Hanifa Anwarzai, a former elementary school teacher in Kabul, remembers Afghanistan at peace.

"The kids would draw pictures of flowers, of beautiful women. Good stuff," said Anwarzai, 57, a Santa Rosa resident and a grandmother.

Soviet forces swept into Afghanistan in 1979, ushering in a nearly 30-year period of war that drove 5 million Afghans - including Anwarzai's family - into exile.

Children saw their fathers slain and the once beautiful schoolroom drawings now depicted "the guns, the tanks, people being killed," Anwarzai said.

She and her husband, Kabir Anwarzai, 65, have never lost their concern for an Afghanistan that quickly dropped from the American consciousness after Sept. 11 and Round 1 of the war on terrorism. With violence and the headlines it generates ratcheting up, the conflict some call a "forgotten war" is coming back into focus.

The U.S. mission, it turns out, was not completely accomplished, and local members of Congress and others are re-engaging their attention on Afghanistan...

(snip) America shifted its forces and fortune to Iraq in 2003, the Taliban and al-Qaida, never eradicated, regrouped in the mountainous tribal area of neighboring Pakistan. Fueled by profits from the world's largest opium trade, discontent among impoverished Afghans and a weak central government in Kabul, the insurgents renewed their aggression.

With the snowbound mountain passes along the border due to clear in a month or two, Afghanistan is bracing for an assault by fundamentalist Muslim insurgents that may be the bloodiest since 2001.

And the war goes on. I give Bush an F in Afghanistan for not finishing the job. I give him an F in Iraq for lying about the war and not having a plan. I give him an F for Iran for not sitting down to talk. I give him a D- for spending five years on North Korea only to end up where Clinton had left things in reasonable shape, though Bush could have improved things if he knew what he was doing. I give him a big F for the strategic damage he has done to our foreign policy worldwide.

But I don't know which is the biggest failure: Bush's foreign policy or the failure of voters to send him home in 2004. If the media had been doing its job back then, our country might already be turning around Bush's failed foreign policy.

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