With all the campaign rhetoric of change in foreign policy now fading in the memories of the public, the new administration is starting on plans to increase the intensity of the war in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, Vice President Biden announced at the NATO headquarters that the situation in Afghanistan was “deteriorating” and that the United States needs support from its allies to fight extremist groups in the region.
For an unconstitutional war that has made little progress in meeting its main goals of finding Osama bin Laden and eradicating the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the decision to stay the course in this foreign policy debacle is not the change Americans had hoped for.
The war in Afghanistan was a bad idea from the start, and the decision to escalate it is a step in the wrong direction. The Bush administration justified the war and lured Congress into supporting it as a consequence of September 11. Just as they had done for almost every act of war since World War II, Congress granted the president authority to use military force in 2001.
Plans were already in place before the attacks to overthrow the Afghani regime were implemented, and the undeclared war began. Just as the Afghanis were able to expel the British and Soviets from their rugged country in the past, it’s unlikely the stubborn militants will ever be crushed by the United States.
In a time of staggering levels of federal spending, the war in Afghanistan is an unnecessary drain on the American people. Many arguments could be made about how we need to help oppressed Afghanis stand up against the Taliban and other religious or political groups not in line with Western philosophy, but the fact is America does not have the resources right now. We have sky-high budget deficits and are planning on increased expensive military actions rather than cutting back. If that doesn’t sound illogical, I don’t know what does.
Maintenance and building of our American empire overseas costs $1 trillion per year. Someone’s paying for all of this, and right now it’s Americans already living in a chaotic economy.
Supporters of George Bush’s doctrine of spreading democratic government through interventionism claim that giving up in Afghanistan puts America at risk. But from the viewpoint of the Taliban, it is American and NATO interventionism in Afghanistan that is putting Americans at risk. In response to Obama’s announcements Tuesday about reaching out to “moderate” resistance groups in Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf ridiculed this plan as illogical and said the only solution to Afghanistan’s spiraling violence was to remove all foreign troops operating there.
The longer America and NATO stay in the region, the more resistance they encounter. If the new administration chose to pull out and apologize formally for the misdirected foreign policy of its predecessors against Middle-Eastern and Muslim peoples, I consider it unlikely that the desire to terrorize Americans would continue. Continuous escalation of efforts to crush the opposition is not the answer to preventing terrorism against America.
In a land of extreme and divisive politics, America needs to stop playing policeman or mediator. Yousuf says it best: “Afghans know better how to decide about their destiny.”
Colin McKim is an environmental management and protection junior and a Mustang Daily political columnist.