Afghans ill-prepared to govern

May 04, 2012

No doubt millions of Americans will regard it as great that 10 years after the start of our involvement in Afghanistan and one year after the elimination of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama signed the accord with President Hamid Karzai affirming the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014 ("Obama: U.S. to 'finish the job,' May 2). So far, so good. But wait, as Paul Harvey would have put it, "the rest of the story" is the U.S. has made a commitment of another 10 years of aid and advisors and undoubtedly more billions of dollars than the administration cares to estimate publicly.

Now, unless I misread those articles over the last six years about the so-called preparations of Afghans to take on the Taliban, Afghan nationals have neither the will nor the courage to resist them. That would be the same Taliban, the Islamic hard-liners, in whose dictatorial hands that nation remained mired in medieval thinking and "justice" when NATO forces went in 10 years ago. And now the U.S. engages in talks with them, disingenuously stating its belief that the Taliban will become civilized enough, or at least law-abiding enough by Afghan standards, that they can live in peace and harmony with their more moderate countrymen. Fat chance.

Why this ridiculous commitment of long-term aid when Afghanistan still isn't ready for anything resembling democracy? Call it a guilt payment. The corrupt Karzai government has had the U.S. over a barrel for years, and our collateral killings of innocents, desecrations, and outright murders of citizens — no matter what cultural advances we have brought about — have caused our fall from grace there and all over the Middle East.

Thus, President Obama has done what he thought he must do (very late, to be sure) to ease us out of this metaphorical minefield of his predecessor's making. We have realized that we cannot remake Afghanistan. The Taliban, like Ho Chi Minh and the nationalists in Vietnam, are exceedingly patient, and the likely scenario during our lifetime (and maybe our children's) is that Afghan society will revert to a fundamentalist Taliban-dominated state.

Bruce R. Knauff, Towson

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