Graveyard of Empires

In the next few days a large group of U.S. marines will be leading NATO and Afghan fighters into Marjah to clear the Taliban out of its last stronghold.  Civilians in the Southern Afghanistan region are fleeing their homes, afraid of what is coming.

Smart people.

As with all things war related these days, this is called Operation Mushtarak, which means "together" in Dari.  All things considered, it may actually go well, but it won't be without problems.  Afghanistan is a hell hole known as the Graveyard of Empires.  Don't believe me.  Ask the Russians.

Omar bin Laden, son of Osama, correctly stated that his father's goal in the 9/11 terrorism attack was to draw America into Afghanistan, a place Osama was intimately familiar with as this is where he, after being trained by the CIA, helped fight the Soviets.  (It was actually a battle near Jaji that turned bin Laden into the hero of Islam that he is today.)  Osama new that America would send troops into Afghanistan after him if America were hit.  After all, Clinton before him had targeted Afghanistan with Operation Infinite Reach.  A larger attack would probably cause then-president Bush to send in troops.

That, Osama assumed (and most would say correctly) would be the beginning of the downfall of the American Empire. 

Granted, it wasn't the military that went in at first after Osama.  It was the CIA.  A small group of CIA operatives went into Afghanistan with the mission of bringing back Osama's head for the president.  They almost got it, too, but when an airstrike near the Pakistanian border was needed, the Bush Administration (the same administration that had called for the beheading), denied the strike, instead stating that it would leave the terrorist's capture up to the Pakistanians.  We all know how well that worked out ... and the military went in.

The American efforts in Afghanistan, regardless of how you feel about the military's mission, have been, I would say, a bit more successful than our Soviet counterparts.  (I just wonder when we'll get tired of fighting people we trained.)  Obama, not to rest on his Nobel Peace Prize laurels, has made Operation Mushtarak part of his "surge."

Osama bin Laden continues to look right.

Conspiracy theories abound about 9/11.  Civil liberties were already being whittled away before that September day (and nobody cared then, either), however.  And if you read Chomsky you know that he and many others believe that the US operates under the assumption that it owns the world, so there was really no excuse needed to invade Iraq.  It was just convenient that one was there.

If anyone has any doubts about this, one only has to look at how little happened with Bush was first put into place by the Supreme Court.  There were token protests, but there was no real negative outcome to it from an economic or security standpoint.  To think that the government would have to fly planes into a building (and thus killing some of the engineers that help the government function) to accomplish what was already being done not in secret but fully out in the open, is misleading at best. 

Dragging the US into Afghanistan, however, makes perfect sense.  Having it invade Iraq later was just icing on the cake.

Our economy is strained, our troops are strained, and what do we have to show for it?  How will this upcoming operation improve anything?  Yes, it may drive the Taliban out (I think there is a good chance this will actually work, as the initial influx of CIA thoroughly disrupted the Taliban's operations).  But what if it fails?  Will we be like the Soviets and fight on and on?  Or will we pull another Vietnam and eventually decide that the cost (financially, not morally) is too high?

I don't know the answer.  I'm tired.  I just know that the next few days will be very interesting.

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