A Lost And Forgotten War


The vast majority of Americans aren’t asked to sacrifice anything, or even acknowledge what some of our young men and women are doing overseas, and it’s a little disconcerting. A yellow ribbon or bumper sticker  doesn’t hold any clout. With 38,000 United States troops still fighting overseas, public interest in the so-called ‘War on Terror,’ specifically the war in Afghanistan, has waned over the past decade.

The military industrial complex is as strong as ever, and the public failure to scrutinize Department of Defense allocations along with their private contract counterparts has created a counterculture of ignorance. Where is the austerity?

As of January 7, 2014, at least 2,164 members of the U.S. military have been killed in Afghanistan.  The media reflects the lack of public awareness; no anti-war protests demanding what the United States hopes to accomplish by having a footprint in the Middle East and Asia. America’s imperialistic insatiability comes at the cost of domestic, economic stability.

Operation Enduring Freedom has cost the United States over $600 billion since 2001, and that number continues to rise. The ‘War on Terror’ has become a fiscally irresponsible quagmire that isn’t given a second thought. After 12 years of occupation, and looming “democratic” elections, Afghanistan is entering uncharted territory, essentially relying on stealthy Taliban support.

Operating stealthy has become the norm for the Taliban. American occupation has forced them into rural areas and into the mountains. The beleaguered nation is one of the most impoverished in the world.

Constant internal turmoil on top of unceasing invasions has created instability for the duration of Afghan existence. Whatever centralized structure the Taliban offers is taken with the understanding of their draconian nature.

April’s elections will show a perceived power shift from incumbent president Hamid Karzai to one of eleven candidates, 10 of 11 of which are Pashtuns, an Iranian ethnic group that made up a majority of the Taliban, as well as the current Afghan government.

Understanding where Afghanistan comes from culturally is lost in translation, which is something that seems to be the case with any country America has invaded over the last half-century.

Afghanistan operates under a tribal structure. Over the past 30 years, it has weathered the storm of communism, Islamic fundamentalism, a civil war, American subjugation and now today, the strength of their tribal community is at an all-time low.

Frustrated by the leadership of current President Hamid Karzai, the United States is growing impatient with the lack of progress of local security forces and law enforcement.

Imposing democratic structure hasn’t worked, nor will it. An upcoming election won’t either.

Pashtuns are the Taliban’s central source of support and the countries largest ethnic group. With cooperation, the Pashtuns can support coalition forces and their battle against insurgents. Their government structure begins and ends at the grassroots level.

Americans are feeling the rife in Afghanistan like the British in the mid-1800’s and the Soviet Union up through the Sour Revolution, a civil war, and the creation of the Mujahedeen and the Taliban. Their tribes have stood over millennia and remain the sinew of Afghanistan.

With a methodical 2014 withdraw, trekking with caution is the best approach. “We have to withdraw early, rather than have a continued bloodletting that won’t succeed,” said Senator John McCain. Smart, but nonsensical. The current administration has put these conflicts on the back burner.  Trivial social issues have hurt the public’s perception at the cost of American lives and money.

The Constitution allows for appropriations to raise an army, and for diverting monies for causes vital to national security interests. Tenancy is not essential to national security.

We have been stretched beyond our means with no clear message as to why; a lost war. A new Gallop poll shows 49% of Americans now feel the war in Afghanistan was a mistake. The current administration is laden with apathy. Past this year, thirty thousand troops may still be needed to help maintain local security forces, and the lack of coherency will always hover over the unremitting presence in the mountainous landlocked republic of central Asia.

What is or, was, the objective here? Is the risk worth the reward of blood and depleted resources?

More emphasis need be placed on diplomacy. Given the constant hysteria of America’s economic climate, and the government’s preponderance of domestic waste, infinite presence is possible, but even without the public’s attention, is an Afghan solution even plausible? To echo the sentiment of Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, “War is a Racket.”

Michael Mazzuto

Michael Mazzuto

A former patriot living amongst civilians. Detractors need not apply. Sometimes I have things to say, so I write it down. Holler in my vicinity @_MMazz, but not too loud.
Michael Mazzuto
Michael Mazzuto

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  1. Derrick says: