The Daily Star
---- — Why are we in Afghanistan? The answer depends on whom you ask, and in what year.
This letter has two premises. First, all wars are evil. Second, if a nation finds itself at war, it should at least have a clear objective. In Afghanistan first we wanted to destroy training camps; then to capture Osama bin Laden; protect the installed regime; rebuild the nation: defeat the Taliban, and defeat al-Qaida. Now we are not sure who the enemy is, but yet we keep hearing the same palliatives fed to us by our government.
Our armed forces are on someone else’s ground, fighting and dying in a land that was not defeated by Britain, Russia or America. This travesty is perpetuated by our leaders who do not have the courage to say: we have no reason for being there, our soldiers are dying for no purpose. We have no “national interest” — our excuse for overt and covert entries into, or attacks upon, sovereign nations; many of which resulted in senselessly killing hundreds of thousands of women and children. Take a hard look at our actions of interference in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Panama, Columbia, Haiti, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, the Philippines, Libya and Vietnam.
Our leadership says we are building democracy. Did the Afghans ask for it? Or, we will lose credibility if we pull out. Lose credibility with whom? Not our Western allies, who have already left. Not with our population, most of whom see no reason to be there.
We have a populace who speak but are not heard. Maybe millions of us should demand we leave Afghanistan. Finally, our political leaders and senior officers are not to be trusted. Too many times have we been led like sheep, watching other people be slaughtered.
William D. Whitaker
Whitaker is a retired commander from the U.S. Navy, and an Annapolis graduate who served in Vietnam.