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Something more serious: Afghanistan

I usually ignore topics like this with as much fervor as I can manage. Feel free to go ahead and ignore it yourself if you like.

Most of my journals on furry websites are going to either be light-hearted, or concerned mostly with the issues I most want to raise an awareness of, such as youth rights and so on. I'm not too keen on being bogged down with issues like this anymore. Especially not this one in particular.

But I might as well, since it's been on my mind of late.

Firstly, let me state I did not support the attack on Iraq. As with Afghanistan, there is no way Bush government didn't know what kind of war they would be getting stuck into, and I cannot fathom why they wanted to get into the same shit twice - simultaneously, in fact.

Beyond that, if you refuse to admit that the Bush administration lied about their motivations for attacking Hussein, you are a pitiable fool.
Though I am a little wary of believing the USA should pull out abruptly.

The country I'm coming back to in a moment, Afghanistan, was utterly destroyed in the years following the Soviet invasion. The political vacuum after the war and warring factions tore the country apart even further once the Russians withdrew.
Iraq will almost certainly be like that as well, especially when you consider "al Qaeda" has expressed interest in inciting civil war there and has already made attempts towards doing so.

Leaving Iraq without repairing the damage we, the "coalition", have done to them by invading in the first place is a disgusting idea to me. I don't want to see any more of our troops die, from any one of our countries, but if this means anything to you - and it should mean at least a little - at least they will be fighting and dying for a good cause, not the lies that got them sent over there in the first place.
The question is, is it worth the price?

The precise same question can be asked of Afghanistan, obviously. I'm surprised to see that so many people who are against our military involvement in these countries don't realize why we're still there. Particularly Australians, because Australians blindly copy American political opinions without even stopping to wonder if we might be doing anything different.

In both countries, Australia's major presence is in the form of task-forces tasked with training locals to defend themselves against the very same factors that tore Afghanistan apart when the soviets withdrew, rebuilding infrastructure both military and civil and protecting civilians.
We and the rest can't do that, by the way, if the US withdraws utterly. We'll all have to follow.

As for the notion that we're raising a new generation of terrorists, summarized in the cool-but-idiotic phrase "bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity" - that's actually a simplified understanding of what's going on and how these groups work.
Rather, the "war on terror" (ugh, I actually typed those words) has done extreme damage to organized terrorist groups in the middle easy, and unlike the USSR, the international alliance that invaded Afghanistan and Iraq are deliberately staying there and exposing themselves to danger to not just eliminate more "terrorists" but to stabilize the region as much as is possible, having learned from the lessons of the Russian occupation, devastation and withdrawal in the 1980s.
It actually seems we aren't raising more terrorists the way the communists did with the Taliban and organized international mujahideen that eventually morphed into groups like what we call al-Qaeda.

Hearts and minds, etc.

But I'm not actually here to talk about whether or not we should withdraw. Like I said: withdraw and we save the lives of a few dozen or hundred more soldiers, at the cost of a river of Afghan and Iraqi blood. May the voters decide with those words in their mind, either believed or questioned and rejected. I don't care! Just think about it instead of treating this as some simplistic evil conspiracy and screaming "Vietnam! Vietnam!" over and over again.

There are a few very strange beliefs I encounter whenever discussing Afghanistan, which is the only country our special forces are still actively engaging in conflicts.

First of all, "al-Qaeda" is not an international, rigidly defined organization like fucking "COBRA" or "Spectre." It's getting irritating seeing people saying "our enemy is al-Qaeda." This is not helped by the media referring to guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan as "al-Qaeda" or "Taliban" fighters.
It's extremely unlikely that many of these combatants have anything but a loose ideological connection to bin Laden's group.

Not to say that we aren't fighting the remnants of the tattered Taliban and "al-Qaeda" over there, but the vast majority of them are going to be essentially tribal militias or, like al-Qaeda but distinct from them,  international mujahideen, some descendents of those who fought against so soviets so incredibly well. Why do you think we've had so much trouble up there? The enemy are veterans of guerrilla warfare, with no centralized command and control structure to target for an easy victory.

In short, our enemy is the fractured nature of Afghanistan itself, fueled with religious fervor, pride and whole lot of hardship because of Russia's disgusting conduct in the 70s/80s and a civil war that's been raging ever since. That's why we're still there - this is not an easy battle to win, and as a result, and contrary to what the smart-arses may say, no, we are not simply "bombing for virginity" up there.

Secondly, stop flipping out about how the CIA trained Osama bin Laden. There are conflicting accounts as to how much direct involvement America had with the training/equipping of the Mujahideen (it was mostly through intermediaries like the Pakistani ISI), but it's no great shakes even if President Reagan went to Iraq and personally taught Osama how to fire Stingers with his nipples.
They were allies of convenience, and most of the American aid went to the Afghan guerrilla fighters in general - bin Laden's (and thus his group of fighters') support mostly came from his Saudi family, and he had always despised America. If he knowingly accepted aid directly from the USA, which is doubtful, he would have done so with disgust, knowing it was necessary to evict the greater of two evils from an Islamic country. Fully intent from the start on turning the weapons and training back on those who gave them to him.

Do a little bit of research and remember the context of the soviet invasion. The Cold War? Remember that? Osama himself attributed the fall of the Soviet Union to the attrition it faced in Afghanistan.

Thirdly... I'm astounded by the nature of the Invasion of Afghanistan. The entire military campaign. I think it would do people wonders to look at it in more detail.
First and foremost, the invasion was planned by the CIA, and the first troops deployed were Special Activities Division CIA officers (readers of Tai's Story should know that name). In fact, almost all the fighting was done by special forces, whether American Delta Force and SEALs, Australian SASR or German KSK, without any deployment of large regular forces. That makes for some interesting reading, folks.

This I mention because there has been a perception in the media and in the minds of many civilians that the CIA are incompetent or conducted themselves incompetently. That they never considered what the war in Afghanistan would be like.

Wrong. I hate to say it, but the CIA were the stars of the show in Afghanistan. They knew precisely what sort of war they were going to fight, and what the nature of the enemy was. But naturally, the incompetent media and administration at the time went right on ahead and proclaimed "we are going in there to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban."

I don't know if Bush genuinely thought it was a simple matter of defeating a conventional government and hunting down some fuckwits with AK-47s or not, but that's absolutely the impression the mainstream media was giving to people at the time, to my recollection (I was twelve at the time, shut up). People who read Time magazine and the CIA were a tad more savvy about the situation in Afghanistan.

Before the war, a great many people called Afghanistan a war we couldn't win. Called it a quagmire. Referred to it as the "Afghan Trap" as we all smirkingly did as the Russians were caught in it.

They were right in that it was, and probably will be for some time, a hard, hard slog. But the results so far have been stunningly positive, far from what people expected when analyzing the soviet's blundering attempt to occupy. If we're lucky, when we do get the hell out, it won't collapse like a house of cards in a earthquake.

And I personally gain a great deal of solace and satisfaction from thinking that maybe, just maybe, some of the major politicians that are keeping these bloody, expensive and complicated conflicts going are doing so at least a little for the good of the Afghan and Iraqi people.

For all the people of the world.

I hope I'm right.
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Added: 7 years, 7 months ago
7 years, 7 months ago
I love you, bro. You are every bit as intelligent and perceptive as you appeared to be when you were 16. Don't ever let your asshole of a father convince you otherwise. I continue to admire and draw inspiration from you, and I hope that I always have the opportunity to do so. Don't ever stop contributing to the world, even when it feels as though no one is listening. We're listening.
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