Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My Life as a Believer ...betrayed


This is an exercise in betrayal. I am not a believer. I do not believe a word that comes from this administration nor do I believe that government in this day and age works for the better good of the people it is supposed to represent. However in order to communicate ideas and values that will resonate beyond my own doorstep I try to find and and amplify the values that believers and non believers can share.

I believe the honest people who support the war on terror are the ones most betrayed by this Administration.

I believe the men and women of the military have been betrayed in their efforts to defend our country.

I write this piece from the point of view of a believer but the ending is the same.

I watched the towers fall. I saw the fighters circling the skies and my pounding heart told me that we were at war. I held hands with my neighbor and for the first time in my life I raised a flag above my house. I watched the British Parliament sing OUR national anthem as one nation after another simply put aside whatever differences they may have had with America or American policy to mourn for our country and our countrymen.

I joined the military to fight terrorism. To defend my county from another 9-11 and to avenge the slaughter of so many good and innocent people. I believed that Al Quaeda and their state sponsors, the Taliban, had to go and I believed that I fought with the support of my president, my countrymen and most of the free world. So I went to Afghanistan.

Within weeks the Taliban was on the run, Kabul fell first and then Kandahar. Within months The Taliban's unquestioned grip over the Afghani people was released and Al Quaeda camps were disbanded, abandoned or destroyed. For the first time in a decade it was Al Quaeda on the run, looking to the skies in terror. As the Taliban and Al Quaeda beat a quick path to the mountains I watched as normal Afghanis came slowly out of their shells, terrified and suspicious, but hopeful. I imagined with great pride the true "shock and awe" they would soon experience as armies of civil engineers, aid workers and business leaders flooded into their country to stabilize their economy, rebuild their cities, villages and infrastructure and reshape their lives. After all, I believe this was the promise of America, to secure the peace after the war --- to create a new Marshall Plan that would offer a true alternative to the desperation that feeds terrorism. And our commanders and the President made me a believer, repeatedly assured the world that indeed this would be so -- they would never again abandon Afghanistan to the wolves and warlords after a fleeting military victory.

But it never happened.

9 months after the fall of the Kabal, with Bin Laden still at large and the Taliban regrouping in the mountains, American military, civil and political resources were already leaving Afghanistan in droves. I later learned that while the headlines at home were loudly trumpeting our victories these resources were quietly being refocused and redistributed in preparation for an invasion of Iraq that was still more than a year away.

With a skeletal American presence in Afghanistan the new Afghani government has fallen prey to extreme corruption and the whims of local warlords. On the local level fear is now split equally between the new local governors (who are often the old local warlords) and the Taliban as citizens are victimized by corrupt local officials at one turn and resurgent factions of Taliban militias on the other. With no real security the mass amounts of international aid money has gone largely unspent as international workers are unable or unwilling to venture into the countryside to administer the funds. Meanwhile there is an open border with Pakistan where the Taliban is not only openly tolerated but openly supported and sheltered by the Pakistani government, our nominal Allies. Tales of difficult border crossings over treacherous mountain ranges are simply overstated as Taliban fighters are waived through traditional armed border crossings at will.

What is clear to many of us now is that while we believed we fought and died to rid the world of the terrorists who murdered our countrymen on 9-11, this Administration never believed this conflict was anything more than a detour on the road to Bagdad. In the days following 9-11 Administration officials are quoted referring to Afghanistan as an unimpressive and thus unworthy military target. In order to send the preferred message to the world they would need to make an example of a REAL government and not just rearrange a pile a rocks in the middle of the desert. Iraq was a perfect candidate; it's leader was hostile, cruel and a thorn in the side of the United States and the UN. Never mind that Hussein presided over a secular state with no tolerance whatsoever for Islamic Jihadists or terrorists of any kind. Meanwhile here we are. We continue to fight and die in Afghanistan with no plan to secure the victory or the peace -- a beard for some geopolitical nonsense that is clearly not working out on either end. The only thing I can believe now is that we believers have been betrayed.

3 Comments:

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous John the Bee said...

"He Deserves Paradise Who Makes His Companions Laugh"

 
At 2:25 PM, Anonymous John the Bee said...

"He Deserves Paradise Who Makes His Companions Laugh"

The Koran

 
At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Augustine said...

You know what "liberal arts" means? In Latin, liber means free.... [T]he Romans had slaves from all over the world, and some of the slaves were very bright, like the Greeks. The Romans would let the slaves get educated in all sorts of practical subjects, like math, like engineering, so they could build things, like music so they could be entertainers. But only Roman citizens, the free people - liber - could take things like rhetoric and literature and history and theology and philosophy. Because they were the arts of persuasion - and they didn't want the slaves to learn how to present arguments that might inspire them to unite and rise up.... So the "liberal" arts are the arts of persuasion, and they didn't want anybody but free citizens knowing how to persuade people.

Tom Wolfe, "I Am Charlotte Simmons"

 

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