Monday, October 6, 2008

Afghanistan is not Iraq

Whenever there is widespread poverty in a country, you can just bet that radical forms of government will gain control. This is also especially true in countries were any wealth is concentrated into the hands of a few ruling elite. We have seen that happen throughout the history of mankind. We have seen it in Russia and in China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and most recently in Venezuela and other South America countries. So, it was no wonder that Afghanistan, a country of hardly any wealth, fell to the Taliban following Russia's abandonment of that country. Most of the population in that country survive on less than $2 a day.

Obviously, our military was able to quickly evict the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2002. But, maintaining that status on the ground has been difficult. Today we are still struggling to keep the Taliban from returning and regaining control.

In the V.P. Debate, the subject of a troop surge in Afghanistan was broached by Joe Biden. Joe Biden tried to use the words of our general in Afghanistan, McKiernan, to say the surge, as used in Iraq, would not work in Afghanistan. But Biden neglected to completely quote McKiernan. McKiernan basically said that Iraq and Afghanistan are entirely different entities. He went on to say: ” The country's mountainous terrain and rural population, its poverty and illiteracy, its 400 major tribal networks and history of civil war all make for unique challenges..." (See Full Story).

We can achieve both a military and political victories in Iraq that will allow us, at some point in time, to remove the bulk of our troops. This is simply due to the wealth and literacy that can be found in Iraq. However, Afghanistan is a totally different story. We will never leave until we can create a stable political environment and until we create an economic base that is something other than a "poppy" growing agricultural society. As long as Afghanistan remains so poor, our military power will simply be a permanent, never-able-to-leave, stop-gap measure. People have to believe that their government will help them in their day-to-day lives in order for that government to survive. Unless and until the Afghan government can prove itself by providing a better life to all its citizens, it is doomed to fail. That is something that pure military victory can never bring to any country.

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