Exit Strategy In Afghanistan?

by James Glaser
January 16, 2003

I think they call it "playing by ear" or maybe in Afghanistan it should be "flying by the seat of your pants." Either way we don't have any idea of how we are going to get out of Afghanistan. From time to time different government officials have said that we have won the war over there and we are going to start a rebuilding phase. Meanwhile soldiers keep getting killed and wounded.

Even so, with the low casualties we have had, we should be able to count this war as a stunning victory. That would be true if we had been fighting a war with a country that had an army, but Afghanistan was a country crippled with twenty years of continuous warfare going on before we got there.

It took everything that country could muster to defeat the Soviet Union. Yes, that is true, those Afghans fought and defeated our most feared enemy of the cold war. We helped with arms, supplies, and money like we do for so many other wars that start in this world. After these people did what we wanted, their country was in total ruin and chaos, we walked away.

Well it was no surprise that Afghanistan fell into a cruel civil war with many factions led by war lords wanting to rule over a country whose only product was opium and heroin. Evil men wanting to rule an evil trade.

Millions of the Afghan people were refugees in their own land. The Soviets had destroyed almost everything and to finish it off the war lords pounded Kabul the capital city into rubble trying to take it from the puppet that the Soviet Union set up to lead the country.

Now in that same city the United States has our puppet set up there, guarded by Americans because the Afghans would kill him.

After the civil war had ground to a halt the religious faction called the Taliban was in control of most of the country while about 15% in the north was still held by war lords. After the September 11 terrorist attack on New York and Washington America was looking for some country to attack. At that time we could not understand that terrorists have no country. America had to attack someone and Afghanistan had Osama bin Laden and his terrorist group in their country.

So instead of attacking just Osama we took on the whole country. That is kind of like taking on not only the kid that threw the rock at you, but all those kids in the wheel chairs that were over by him.

But like any story there is more to this one than meets the eye. Before our terrorist attack, for several years American oil companies wanted to put a pipe line through Afghanistan. Nobody could do it because the country was so unstable. We thought that maybe the religious group, the Taliban could be ruthless enough to keep everything stable and we even brought some of them to Texas to talk about our buying the rights to an oil pipe line through their country.

This is how backwards and dumb these guys were. They said no to a large group of American oil companies. Little backwards countries just don't do that and now you know why we attacked the humble little devastated country of Afghanistan.

Like I said we have set up our puppet. We backed those war lords with 15% of the country and now we have them sitting in different high government jobs. The opium trade is in full swing again and we have signed the oil pipe line deal with our puppet and the neighboring countries.

Afghanistan is really the "pits" now. Anything that was left we hit with thousands and thousands of bombs all over that country. We have garrison troops there keeping the country from exploding back into warfare. Millions of refugees have come back to their homeland and we are feeding them. We have convinced other countries to help rebuild and that rebuilding will cost billions.

But we have one really big problem You see the whole world is watching us now and we just don't know how we can leave. If we pull out and the place flares up, well there goes the pipe line and that is why we started the thing in the first place. If we keep troops there we will look like a conquering empire, but if we don't stay, our puppet is dead as our troops are his body guard.

This whole thing has gone from a splendid little victory for George Bush to a real hassle. America has bigger and better things to move on to, Iraq is our next conquest, sorry there. Iraq is the next country we are going to free. It is hard to start cooking in Iraq when we still have things like Afghanistan on the back burner. It just makes everything harder.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we didn't get very many of those terrorists like Osama bin Laden or the head guy of the Taliban, Mulla Omar and both of these guys are still around Afghanistan. That is another reason we have the troops there, we are still looking, but remember we have already won. These guys are just loose ends we are trying to tie up.

It is hard though to keep explaining why American soldiers are still getting killed and wounded. At least the American media is cooperating by putting these Afghan casualties on a back page and keeping them off the nightly news. Iraq and now North Korea are enough.

I am sure any day now George Bush will be telling the nation that Afghanistan has taught us a lesson and he will then explain our exit strategy for Iraq. Somebody in our government has to be thinking about things like this don't you think?

BACK to the Politics Columns.