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Cary Brunswick

December 5, 2009

Time to look within our borders, not at more war

Here we go again. Thirty billion more dollars and 30,000 more troops for a war that's really just taking sides in a civil conflict of our own creation.

Yes, at one time it was a legitimate conquest. In those days after 9/11, we were reeling from al-Qaida attacks and had the world's support in our efforts to punish and prevent future assaults.

But we had our chance, and though President Obama, as always, offers eloquent and well-reasoned arguments for an escalation of the war in Afghanistan, his statements also could be used as evidence for pulling back now.

In his speech at West Point on Tuesday night, the president said that after 9/11, ``within a matter of months, al-Qaida was scattered and many of its operatives were killed. The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels.''

That no doubt is true, and if so, then what went wrong? We can't blame the acknowledged deterioration of the situation since then entirely on our invasion of Iraq, which seems to be the standard explanation.

Less than a year after the 9/11 attacks, I wrote in this space that: ``We had the world's support for scattering al-Qaida and toppling the regressive Afghan government for its role in harboring terrorists. OK, is it time now to address some of the roots of that extremism and stop more hate from spreading?''

Yes, it was time, but apparently we didn't do it. Invading Iraq certainly wasn't a good strategy. And the government we installed in Afghanistan, in Obama's own words, has ``been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient security forces.'' We appear to be unable to admit that what's going on in Afghanistan is a civil war in some ways similar to the one we created in Iraq. We talk about the Taliban as if its members were Martians who swooped down from the sky on flying carpets and took over the country.

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Cary Brunswick

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