Get Out of Afghanistan Now

Get Out of Afghanistan Now

When news broke on May 2, 2011 that Osama bin Laden had been killed, it was the middle of finals and yet there were celebrations on campus late into the night. The rest of the country echoed this sentiment – we got him, and the horror of 9/11 seemed partially avenged.

Nearly a year later, there are still over 80,000 American troops stationed in Afghanistan, which we invaded in 2001 on a crusade against bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. However, bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda has likely shifted its center of power out of Afghanistan, and the Taliban has be-come too strong and widespread to defeat. Despite this, there is the notion that Afghans are “backward” and devoid of the ability to run their own political and social agenda. We feel we must continue our occupation, to ensure the advancement, security and democratization of the Afghan people. But in reality, Afghanistan is an area that has never been conquered, whether in modern times by aggressors like the Soviets, or by thirteenth-century Mongols. The Afghan are a people resis-tant toward others attempting to impose themselves or their ideological influences, and they are clearly uninterested in making an exception for Americans.

Instead, we should accept that we have not accomplished all of our goals and gracefully remove ourselves from the situ-ation. Staying longer is not only ineffective in reaching our initial aims, but is also catalyzing inappropriate and harmful behavior, specifically three events in the past few months, by our troops, leading to more Afghan contempt.

First was the group of soldiers who were tactless enough to find humor in urinating on the bodies of slain Taliban fight-ers – and also film the occurrence, allowing it to be spammed on the Internet. There is a certain level of basic human respect that even the Taliban deserve, and this suggested that some of our troops are insolent and ignorant enough not only to act in this manner, but also to think it wouldn’t have repercus-sions. Imagine the uproar that would exist if a similar im-age of American bodies were to surface. This picture has en-dowed the Taliban with yet another reason for their contempt toward America.

Next was the “accidental” burning of Qur’ans by NATO soldiers, including several Americans. It’s fairly clear that there was at least some level of deliberation in this act, especially since Muslims found the burned Qur’ans. It’s sacrilegious and impertinent for soldiers to have done this. Even though there has been a military presence for the past ten years, this kind of behavior at best shows the ignorance of soldiers toward Is-lam and at worst shows a complete disrespect for the religion, which is that of 99 percent of Afghans.

The most jarring example supporting the notion that our presence in Afghanistan is causing more issues than it’s solving occurred only last week. An American soldier on his fourth tour of duty (though the three prior were served in Iraq) opened fire in several homes, killing sixteen civilians, including nine children. He broke down doors and invaded people’s homes intentionally. He then burned several of the bodies, which most Muslims consider profane. It remains to be determined what drove this soldier to commit this action, but the Afghan response is clear: that of outrage, sadness and contempt. For them, this is yet another example of assault by foreign soldiers, and they’ve had enough. We should have had enough of this war, too.

We went to Afghanistan with a certain set of goals, we have partially met those goals, we’ve invested a lot of money and lives, but now our presence is creating more problems than it’s resolving. President Hamid Karzai seems to be making at-tempts to democratize his country, one that is so complicated and delicate that only an ethnic Afghan could truly under-stand its issues. We’re not only embarrassing ourselves on the international front but also creating more legitimate reasons for the Afghans to despise us. It’s time for the government to realize that it’s necessary to retreat as quickly as possible. The government has a responsibility to Americans and to Afghans to understand when more harm is being done than good.

Contact Selina Koller at [email protected].