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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Why Obama’s on the Right Path in Afghanistan

In response to the vocal opposition of many to President Obama’s announcement that he will be sending 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan I feel it is necessary to respond to some of their most sweeping claims. According to those whom get their history from hearsay, the myth circulating within certain anti-war circles that the US supported Al-Qaeda in their fight against the Soviets is not true.

The US supported the Mujahadeen during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and not Al-Qaeda because it didn’t exist yet – it actually came into being during the early 1990s. Some of those holy warriors, like Osama Bin Laden, became today’s Al-Qaeda, but only because of their dangerous beliefs. Most wouldn’t acknowledge US aid during the Soviet Invasion and rose to power on nationalist campaigns.

To those citing the US’s relations with dictators as proof that they were willing to support gross violators of human rights isn’t a relevant response to the doubts of America’s long term arms-heavy strategy against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. We are standing up to these violators now, are we not? It doesn’t speak to our national interest and doesn’t answer the most fundamental question: If we left Afghanistan today, would it stand on its own? Or crumble into a chaotic and strategic nesting ground for anti-American zealots?

Karzai isn’t perfect, but he’s no Stalin. Electoral fraud is a mark against his legitimacy, but that’s no reason for equating him with the bloody dictators of the past. Most of the US-backed dictators come from countries that respect autocratic power. This single-handed welding of power is what many around the world have come to expect from government. The current president of Pakistan is already on his way out due to his indecisive leadership.

Those whom cite Afghani Parliament and anti-Taliban activist Malalai Joya’s views as reasons for military withdrawal do not hold a strong case because awards and recognition for her humanitarian efforts don’t make her the foremost expert on the issue of long term interests for the US and Afghanistan. She’s a good person with the best of intentions when it comes to her people. I don’t dispute that in any way.

Disarmament supporters whom cite the Manhattan Project as hindering our security are using a poor choice in terms of rhetorical counters. The bomb was pushed by politicians who feared a German nuke – which is terrifying if you understand what type of maniac Hitler was.

A person’s technical expertise in any field does not automatically make them credible on the issue at hand. Life experiences are a crucial part of what makes someone’s words credible. I’m merely skeptical of what makes a politician such as Joya qualified to speak on what the US should be doing in Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan needs both soft and hard power in order for there to be a peaceful and stable Afghanistan by the time the US withdraws its troops – or at least the strong indication of an increasingly competent and capable government chosen by the Afghan people. To do so, we need to do two things: (1) Create a breathing space for Afghanistan to build its basic infrastructure, (2) the US should fund a Afghan operated education system to promote literacy, and (3) the Afghan Army and Security Force needs to be made competent with more training and assistance of the ISAF.

At this point, I’d like to ask some questions back to people who vehemently object to the President’s plan.

Do you think Al-Qaeda and the Taliban will leave Afghanistan and Pakistan alone if the US withdraws its troops today or in the near future? How should the US combat the threat that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban pose to our national security, if not through the direct approach in their old safe haven? Can Afghanistan stand on its own without the US and its military and civilian forces with its present handicaps? Is it possible to create a peaceful, independent, and stable Afghanistan without military force?

If you can’t give a substantiated response that’s based on sound empirical evidence, then you should rethink you position on this war. These are the essential questions that must be answered when discussing the US role in Afghanistan.

I don’t claim to know it all, but I’ve been doing lots of reading on the subject matter from reputable sources like Steve Coll of the Washington Post. The facts of this problem are something that requires a personal drive to understand, because you won’t learn it in a classroom. I hope to learn more, because I want to be a part of the solution.

A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is what the majority of the world wants, but it cannot be achieved by simply pulling out our troops and civilian forces. We cannot rely on chance to protect us from another 9/11. If we don’t hit these extremists in their strongholds, will we be safer? No. History will repeat itself and the world will pay for the consequences.

The US’s position on Afghanistan is just, because we were attacked on our homeland on 9/11 and our national security hinges on our response to this threat. Our response has been flawed in Afghanistan, but it’s something that’s rectifiable if we can judiciously correct our past mistakes by being introspective about the realities on the ground.

About the Contributor
Dillon Zhou served as opinions editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2010-2011