Moral Outrage
Whew! God help us!

Afghanistan: Someone please explain what are we fighting for?

Afghanistan: What are we fighting for?

It would be a great service to the American nation if Barack Obama would tell us what he himself thinks the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are about.

To capture Osama bin Laden? There have been eight years in which to capture bin Laden and it’s not been done yet, and there seems no reason to think that anything important would change if the thousands of Marines now scheduled for Afghanistan did capture him. What did it change to capture and execute Saddam Hussein in Iraq?

Is the war meant to defeat the Taliban? Why? What business is it of the United States to determine who runs Afghanistan, when the Afghan nation has absolutely no ability, interest, or capacity to do harm to the United States or to any of the NATO countries?

The Bush administration put Hamid Karzai into the Afghan presidency because he was a compliant figure Americans could work with. He was an Americanized Pathan, and Pathans are the majority ethnic in Afghanistan. Washington manipulated the Loya Jirga (national assembly of regional and tribal leaders) called in June 2002, so as to put Karzai in office.

This was despite the will of the majority of the assembly to bring back the former royal family, and the ex-king, as non-partisan and traditionally legitimate influences in the country’s affairs.

By acting as it did, the Bush administration robbed Karzai of legitimacy, making him a foreign puppet. That, and his own inadequacies, are responsible for the weakness and corruption of his government.

The coolest head in the regional policy debate since 2001 has been the University of Michigan historian, Juan Cole, who comments that what we are hearing now is “doomsday rhetoric about this region [which] is hardly new. It’s at least 100 years old.”

His view is the common-sense one that the struggle in Pakistan-Afghanistan is essentially over local matters of great import to the Pathans, and to their neighbors, and of very little consequence for anyone else — least of all the NATO countries and the U.S. The warning that “if we don’t fight them there we will have to fight them at home,” as recently voiced by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, can only be called a pathetic fantasy.

—William Pfaf, American author of eight books on American foreign policyand columnist in The International Herald Tribune for more than a quarter-century,


One Response to “Afghanistan: Someone please explain what are we fighting for?”

  1. I have a theory, see “The Senator’s Song,” fourth verse, at for the clearest explanation yet.

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