We’re not wanted there

Afghans are sick of the American presence

By now it’s evident to all Americans that Afghanistan has become a horrible quagmire. President Obama’s “good war” has become a lot like that “bad war” in Iraq: intractable and unwinnable.

According to a March 13 article in The New York Times, the White House, which has long sought to end the American presence in a way that would stabilize the Afghan government sufficiently to fend off the Taliban, is discussing whether to reduce American forces by at least an additional 20,000 troops by 2013, a significant acceleration of the U.S. withdrawal plan.

The president understandably wants to “get out in a responsible way, so that we don’t end up having to go back in,” as he recently put it. The United States chose to invade the country 11 years ago, so it bears major responsibility for what has since ensued. Besides, the president has to deal with his military commanders, who want to keep most of the American troops in the country until the end of 2014, as originally planned.

But how long do we continue to sacrifice American lives—not to mention those of other NATO soldiers and Afghan civilians caught in the crossfire—in a conflict we can’t win? Polls show Americans are fed up with the war and want out.

The Karzai government is feckless and corrupt. Western aid has gone to enrich the elite. And evidence from the field indicates that the U.S. military effort is nowhere near succeeding in the way its commanders have posited. The best that can be said of this campaign is that it’s a slow bleed.

It’s convenient to think that Afghans’ anti-American rage is due to such aberrances as the recent massacre of civilians by a deranged staff sergeant, the accidental burning of Qurans or video images of U.S. troops urinating on dead Taliban fighters. But it’s more than that. What they’re really angry about is an 11-year, extremely violent foreign military presence in their country. They are, to put it bluntly, sick of us.