Camillo “Mac” Bica at Truthout wrote a great article blasting the idea of Afghanistan as “the good war” and pushing the anti-war movement to step up (or start) serious efforts to block an escalation.
Despite some subtle nuances regarding a timetable for the phased withdrawal of at least a portion of the combat troops from Iraq,(1) the positions of both John McCain and Barack Obama regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are quite similar. Under both their plans, American young men and women, despite their eventually being withdrawn from Iraq – “with honor” for McCain, “responsibly” for Obama – will not be returning home but, rather, redeployed to another battlefield upon which to continue to kill or be killed. Both candidates have promised a surge in Afghanistan, and a commitment to continue the “war on terrorism” until our enemies, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, perhaps Iran, are defeated and Osama Bin Laden is killed or captured. Consequently, while promising the American people real change from the politics of gunboat diplomacy and militarism of the last eight years, all we are truly being offered by either candidate is more of the same.
What is advertised as the pursuit of Bin Laden and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is, in reality, an unnecessary and unwarranted war against the Taliban and the Pashtun tribes that inhabit the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Certainly, it is true that the Middle East, perhaps even the world, would be a safer place were Afghanistan stable and secure. However, winning the war against terrorism and gaining peace in Afghanistan is not about escalating violence, increasing the number of troops and dropping more and larger bombs. It is not about searching out and destroying al-Qaeda and the Taliban, or even capturing and killing Bin Laden. Rather, it is about inclusiveness, diplomacy, understanding and dialogue. It is about doing the difficult work of reconciliation and of addressing the grievances that nourish radicalism. It is about resolving, reasonably and fairly, the conflicts in Iraq, Kashmir and Palestine. Most importantly, I believe, it is about recognizing that the days of US unilateralism and imperialism are over and realizing the necessity of involving and soliciting the assistance of area powers such as Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, China and India.