George Will’s recent column on Afghanistan is not to be missed. He makes a cogent case for pulling back from Afghanistan. We are once again trying to prop up an unpopular regime against an ideologically committed group of nationalists, and we’ll never have “world enough and time” (my allusion, not Will's) to succeed. Just as with the Viet Cong of old, the Taliban simply wait us out and return to the villages and towns our troops have supposedly cleared. We’re doomed to fail, Will suggests, because we’ll never be able to field enough troops to “clear and hold,” much less engage in nation-building—the main tenets of counter-insurgency doctrine. Will reminds us that our initial objective in going in to Afghanistan was to kick out al-Qaida, and that objective has been met. Will argues that our main concern should be Pakistan, not Afghanistan.
I’ve been thinking of late about the essential irony of our current war in Afghanistan. Does anyone else recall that we trained, equipped, and encouraged the Taliban in their struggle against Soviet occupation? Once again, in our Cold-War determination to contain and embarrass the Soviet Union we paid scant attention to the culture and history of the people we were supporting, nor did we give much thought to the long-range implications of their success. As Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner) reminds us in his historic novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, the Soviets insisted on equal opportunity for women. The Taliban put women in burqas and would not allow them to go to school.
--Edward F. Palm
- Edward F. Palm
- Forest, Virginia, United States
- A long time ago, my sophomore English teacher, Father William Campbell, saw something in my writing and predicted that I would someday become a newspaper columnist. He suggested the perfect title for my column--"Leaves of the Palm." Now that I have a little extra time on my hands I've decided to put Father Campbell's prediction to the test. I'm going to start using this blog site not just to reprint opinion pieces I've published elsewhere but to try to get more of my ideas and opinions out there. Feedback is welcome. To find out more about me, please check out my Web site: www.EdwardFPalm.com (Click on any of the photos below for an enlarged view.)