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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 20, 2009 / 26 Iyar 5769

‘Bloody’ mission goes awry

By Glenn Garvin


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It may seem a little paradoxical for a journalist to say, but I reallllly hope Robert Gates was lying to us earlier this month when he explained what he's learned about Afghanistan over the last 30 years. "If there's one lesson I draw from the past, it is the importance of our staying engaged," the defense secretary told reporters while visiting an American military base in the country's north. "And if there's a lesson for Americans and the international community, it's that we don't dare turn our backs on Afghanistan. This will work if we stay engaged."

I hope that was just another case of the marvelous creativity in language arts that has enabled Gates to work on the national-security teams of both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama without ever encountering philosophical contradiction. Because, in the eighth year of U.S. military occupation, the lesson any sensible person would draw is that it's time to think about getting out.

Somehow the original U.S. mission in Afghanistan — eliminating a state sponsor for al-Qaeda — has morphed into an attempt at nation-building. And though the conventional Washington wisdom is that the Bush administration took its eye off the Afghan ball while going to war in Iraq, the reality is that the world has lavished an incredible amount of resources on the rickety Kabul regime.

Forty-two countries are sending aid to Afghanistan. So are hundreds of NGOs and development banks. More than $15 billion has flowed into the country since the Taliban was toppled, which may sound like a pittance compared to the money the Obama administration is hurling around in its daily industry bailouts, but nonetheless represents more than a year of Afghanistan's GDP. Imagine the impact of spending the equivalent sum — upward of $16 trillion — in the United States. Meanwhile, a multinational force of 75,000 troops patrols the country, with another 21,000 American soldiers on the way.

What have we gotten for that? A country that's a festering sore of corruption inside the capital, and a shooting gallery outside it. Afghanistan's No. 1 industry is stealing foreign aid; No. 2, exporting opium to supply the world heroin trade.

The problem is that we're trying to create a stable democracy in something that isn't even really a country, just a collection of arbitrary borders drawn for the convenience of British colonialists, populated by a random collection of tribal warlords whose bloodlust is exceeded only by their proclivity for betrayal.

Afghanistan's culture of ethnic violence and political dysfunction makes Iraq look positively utopian by comparison.

In his book "The Great Gamble," NPR Moscow correspondent Gregory Feifer recounts how KGB officers sent to advise the pro-Soviet Afghan regime of the late 1970s were horrified when the troops they trained used their skills not to assassinate counterrevolutionary rebels but one another. The KGB men weren't the first foreigners confounded by the sanguinary impulses of Afghan tribes. "Their system of ethics, which regards treachery and violence as virtues rather than vices," wrote Winston Churchill while working as a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, "has produced a code of honor so strange and inconsistent that it is incomprehensible to a logical mind."

Churchill was covering one of several 19th-century British attempts to pacify Afghanistan and create "one grand community under one law and one rule." Instead, they all ended in the slaughter of the British troops and the elephants they rode in on. The sole unifying principle in the whole history of Afghanistan is a fierce desire to kill armed foreigners, a discovery eventually made by everyone from Alexander the Great to Leonid Brezhnev.

Must we learn the same lesson the same bloody way? Our intent in Afghanistan was to destroy the Taliban government and deny al Qaeda a state platform for terrorism, and we achieved those goals mostly by using local warlords as our proxies. If there's a Taliban resurgence, we can do so again.

By staying, we merely paint a target on our backs, one that gets broader every day. The 1,500-mile supply line to U.S. troops in Afghanistan runs through Pakistan. What will we do if the government there falls? Strike a deal with Russia and Vladimir Putin? Or Iran? What will that cost? CIA doctors recently told a bemused team of agency officers that the dust swirling through their facilities at Bagram Air Base is 90-percent composed of dried feces. Soon enough, the same will be said of our military mission in Afghanistan.

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Glenn Garvin is a columnist for the Miami Herald

Previously:


05/07/09: The problem is they aren't just goofin'
04/30/09: Why can't students say ‘guns’ in school?
04/08/09: When non-U.S. citizens vote
03/2e/09: Of course the AIG bonus boys — the ‘best and the brightest‘ — deserve their loot
03/12/09: No choice in Free Choice Act

© 2009, The Miami Herald Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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