Wednesday, February 04, 2009

There is no military solution in Afghanistan

When I heard that Obama signed off on a predator drone attack into Pakistan, my heart sunk. It sank again when I heard that Obama is going to commit an additional 30,000 troops to the region. Many experts and historians say that there is no military solution in Afghanistan. There is only a political solution.

The Pashtun region that includes a wide swath of border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been called "the graveyard of empires," because of the rough terrain. Look what happened to Genghis Khan, and the British and Indians in the first and second Afghan war. The Soviets, a century later, had 150,000 troops, yet were soundly defeated, and the entire Soviet Union was economically bled dry and crumbled into pieces.

Some may say, "Now we have 'predator drones' so we don't have to put so many troops in harms' way." That may be less controversial, but "strategic bombing" doesn't "demoralize the enemy." It kills a bunch of other people around. Therefore, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we recruit more opposition than we get rid of by killing the one person at that we wanted to kill. Historian Marilyn Young argues that bombing, even when successful, does not win hearts and minds, "I will not be grateful to you for harming someone I don't like in the course of which you kill my kid."