I'll start with an e-mail I got from a friend of mine directing me to Brave New Foundation's rethinkafghanistan.com website featuring a series of interviews (yay! all captioned!!) with professors from outside Afghanistan and representatives from the country itself talking about the futility of continuing our military engagement in Afghanistan.
Now, I'm more of a lover than a fighter and, having lived for 3 years as a child outside of the U.S., I know first hand what is like to be a guest in someone's country and what sort of role an outsider should play in the host country's affairs. Though this was 30 years ago, it seems most practical to engage in partnership to resolve problems rather than steamroll through someone else's countryside.
I noticed, though, a lack of military professionals in Part One of the videos (I will get to part two sometime soon). So, using the search engine of this blog's kind host, I did a couple of simple searches. Here was what I found:
- A bullet-point "how to conduct yourself as a foreigner wanting to do business" in Afghanistan. It doesn't cover all aspects of life and culture there, but it's a good, quick primer.
- An article from the Montreal Gazette featuring insight from Brigadier-General Denis Thompson, former commander of Canadian and NATO forces in Kandahar. The gist? The troops should be training local law enforcement to root out and arrest insurgents, thus letting troops exit the country.
- Another article featuring comments from General McKiernan, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, talking about the need for 17,000 additional troops. This fits in with what the President is expected to announce on Friday regarding our future plans in Afghanistan.
Hmm. Come to think of it, while I now have a thumbnail sketch of Afghan culture and two points of view on the military presence there, I only feel marginally smarter about any of this.
A couple of cliches come to mind as ways of coming to some sort of conclusion over our future plans there:
- Those who fail to read/study history are doomed to repeat it. Perhaps an overview of previous foreign intervention into Afghanistan/Pakistan and/or that region of Asia would shed more light.
- Follow the money. Who stands to benefit profit-wise from continuing the same course of action in Afghanistan? Or, who stands to be sunk into unending debt?
Good thing others are working hard on this. It's just about my bedtime here, anyway.