The ‘good war’ in Afghanistan is unwinnable

Elsie Speck

Carbondale resident

President Barack Obama’s “Good War” is looking less ‘good’ as each day passes. Though the war was started by President George W. Bush, it is now Mr. Obama’s war, as he’s been convinced by his generals to remain involved.


So he wouldn’t appear weak, he sent an additional surge of troops and seems determined to stay there at least until 2014.

That is a long time away, as we see innocent lives taken daily on both the Afghan side and the NATO troop side.

The well-touted surge has not worked, and according to many sources, including the Friends Committee on National Legislation, “Afghanistan is less stable now than at any time since September 2001 … the presence of foreign forces is uniting extremist groups and feeding recruits to the Taliban and al Qaeda”.  I believe we first went to Afghanistan to rout out al-Qaida, and though it is reported that there are probably only around 100 al-Qaida present there, our 90,000 American troops remain, possibly with the intent of nation-building.

In 2009, Gen. David McKiernan was deviously dismissed from Afghanistan because he wasn’t pushy enough, and of course, he wasn’t winning. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others were pushing for a more charismatic operator, and that was Gen. Stanley McChrystal. “Big Stan” could surely win the war and move things in the right direction. This turned out not to be the case.

After Gen. McChrystal was ousted because of he made fun of Vice President Joe Biden and faulted President Obama for his lack of leadership, a new general who seemed to be liked by all was recruited: Gen. David Petraeus. In Michael Hastings’ book “The Operators,” he describes how the mainstream media worshipped Petraeus — treating what he did in Iraq as an almost Mother Teresa-like accomplishment.

The Washington Post called Petraeus’ accomplishments a miracle, Newsweek deemed him a ‘near-miracle worker’ and the Beltway of Washington D.C. was convinced we had won the won in Iraq.

The miracle worker Petraeus did in Afghanistan what he did in Iraq, and “insurgents and criminals of yesterday became the heroes and patriots of tomorrow.”


One such young warlord, Col. Abdul Razik, is having his ‘killer image’ made over by his military and special forces adviser.

And so in his assessment of this unwinnable war, journalist Michael Hastings tells us quite bluntly that “the face of Afghanistan after 10 years of America’s war is that of a 34-year-old drug lord.”

It would seem that rather than leaving them with democracy and human rights, we are leaving behind militias and war lords.  But wait — the latest General in charge, Gen. John Allen, argued that “the war can still be won” a few days ago at a hearing on Capitol Hill. He must belong to the Charlie Sheen “winning-winning” strategy.

He did state that we are spending $4 billion to $5 billion annually to fund the Afghan National Security Forces. The Pentagon has a lot of tax dollars to throw around, so $4 billion or $5 billion is not a big deal.

In the meantime, “Winning the minds and hearts of the Afghan people” took a real nosedive with the accidental burning of their sacred books. And then we must deal with the aftermath of the terrible tragedy in which a crazed and dazed U.S. Army sergeant snuck out at two different times in the middle of the night to kill 17 Afghan men, women and children.

Didn’t we already get Osama bin Laden, the instigator of the Sept. 11 tragedy?  I believe those evils took the lives of 3,000 Americans.

How many lives have been destroyed since then, in the 10 and a half years in Afghanistan?  How many wounded and maimed in both mind and body?  Afghanis, U.S. servicemen and their families have paid a steep price for this so-called “good war”.

According to an article published Monday in The Nation magazine, France stated that international forces should leave Afghanistan by 2013.  The Friends Committee for National Legislation stated that momentum is growing in Congress against the war, and in December, the Senate passed legislation supporting an end to the war.

This has not become law but is a good sign, as a growing number of Americans also think we need to stop wasting lives and resources on the Afghanistan debacle, regardless of how the latest general spins the story.