White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has stressed that leaving Afghanistan is not an option for President Barack Obama.
“That’s not something that’s ever been entertained,” Gibbs said in a press conference last month. “I don’t think we have the option to leave. That’s quite clear.”
Since a March announcement, Obama has sent 34,000 more support troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total to 68,000. Obama has more than doubled the troop levels in Afghanistan since taking office.
Obama seems unaware of the fruitlessness of this quagmire. The more the U.S. becomes involved militarily, the more likely it is seen as the aggressor. Moderates and other Afghans, who may not have supported reactionary groups like the Taliban originally, may offer their support under the strain of U.S. occupation.
It may seem noble to bring peace, democracy, civil rights and other ideas to the Middle East, but these may not be seen as just ideas, but as Western ideas. The people of the Middle East carry with them the same nationalist pride of most people around the world and may hesitate to accept Western ideas.
Country, religion, home and family are powerful incentives to defend. Unless the U.S. is willing to take drastic measures in Afghanistan, it should be prepared for the continuation of the same insurgency of the past eight years, as it has against the Soviets and other outsiders for hundreds of years.
Matthew Hoh, a former Marine captain, worked as the senior civilian representative for the U.S. State Department in the Zabul province of Afghanistan until his resignation last month. Hoh resigned out of opposition to the continued Afghanistan war, the first U.S. official to do so.
He said in his letter of resignation, “I fail to see the value or worth in continued U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year-old civil war.”
Hoh’s analysis of the situation is quite accurate.
He said, “If the history of Afghanistan is one great stage play, the United States is no more than a supporting actor, among several previously, in a tragedy that not only pits tribes, valleys, clans, villages and families against one another … but has violently and savagely pitted the urban, secular, educated and modern of Afghanistan against the rural, religious, illiterate and traditional. It is this latter group that composes and supports the (insurgency).”
It is not the United States’ responsibility to build nations and play world police. Afghans alone must decide their destiny. When foreign powers enter Afghanistan, the smaller differences the locals might have are put aside, and they fight against their common enemy together.
It has been said that fighting terrorism is like chemotherapy for cancer. The battle kills the cancerous cells at the expense of healthy cells, making the situation worse. Indefinite occupation of Afghanistan is sure to make things worse for innocent people.
To avoid another terrorist attack, it would be much more reasonable to isolate the perpetrators rather than give them the ideological fuel they need with overzealous reactions. U.S. troops will eventually have to withdraw from Afghanistan. How many more Americans need to die until then?
Justin Rivera is a senior majoring in history.