The war in Afghanistan and how to win it…

I have been too busy with the rest of life to see Mr. Obama propose an increase in the troops sent to Afghanistan.  I gather that’s what we’re going to do, but he promises we’ll leave in 18 months. His top military advisers  (including S.O.S. Clinton) have already began to say “let’s not say that just yet”.  There’s nothing quite like walking out on a plank and having your “friends” saw it off behind you.

Other than the fact that I’m against war itself, I leave open the option that I might be wrong and we might need to be there. I know from Vietnam that we should only go to war if we have specific (limited) objectives, and we should leave when they’re completed.

Where I get off, however, is with this statement from Yahoo/AP: “Defense Secretary Robert Gates said losing the war “would have severe consequences for the United States and the world,” and warned of a deadly “symbiotic” relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists.”

I just came back from teaching my class tonight and I was teaching about personality theorist Karen Horney (pronounced “Horn-eye”, BTW) and she was talking about bad symbiotic relationships like the guy who beats his girlfriend and she keeps coming back.  I’m, frankly OK with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda having that kind of symbiotic relationship. I suspect, in fact, that terrorist actually do have that kind of relationship with each other.  Nobody’s loving the other one because they don’t know how to be decent to each other, and it’s one power struggle after another.   In that case, let one suck the other dry. Just leave all those other people (the innocent bystanders/citizens of the country) out of it.

But the way to win a “war for the hearts and minds” of a people — which is what a war against terror is — is not to fight, but to care and to give.  It’s really hard to believe that so-and-so country is The Great Satan if they’re giving you food, or teaching your children to read your own language, or building houses for you.  On the other hand, it’s hard to believe that people are there to help you if they’re blowing your buildings up and killing your children. To the extent that we can do the first without doing the second, we will be successful in winning their hearts and minds.  And, if al-Qaeda starts trying to win the war by feeding people, I’d say we could go home.  But if we had to stay there, well, that’s an arms race I’m willing to engage in.

Frankly, I believe that lots of our troops are pretty nice guys and gals who would rather give out lollipops to promote America to kids than bullets, but it’s not the Army’s  stated purpose and they probably couldn’t get away with it for long.

Michael Moore ( says that there are less than 100 Al-Qaeda and we’re sending 10,000 troops to catch them. If that’s true, it’s going to be hard to not look like invaders.

Something else Moore mentions, if I remember, is that many of these people are National Guard or the Reserves.  Regardless of what happens, our government needs to stop lying to people.  As I understand it, people who signed up for the Guard are supposed to be here in America. Most of them signed up to be patriotic and afford school.  There isn’t a Community College in this country located in Iraq, Afghanistan or anyplace else. Most campuses don’t require defending your life or not seeing your family for months (years!) at a time.  Even the worst schools in America aren’t 120 degrees during the daytime and full of blowing sand. Bullets are not on the lunch menu in most American cafeterias, and if there are, we think it’s a real problem.

So, other than the fact that I don’t believe in war, that I think we’re probably fighting it all wrong and I don’t want the National Guard there,  I’m totally fine with Mr. Obama’s plan.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Friends of mine from High School (Sandy and Gordie Clark)  and my present life (David Ratz) have corrected me re: the National Guard. While I have always understood that the Guard was only used in this country, apparently that is NOT the case.  They have historically been used in America AND outside it.  Also, people in the guard are, also apparently, told this.  The fact that some people go in to get help with schooling doesn’t change the fact that it IS the military after all, and it is their choice in join, having been given all the facts. Thanks to those who gave me the info.




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