While I agree with our original reasons to invade Afghanistan–to destroy Al Quaeda training camps, punish those responsible for the 9-11 attacks and capture Osama Bin Laden–waging war on the country seemed odious for several reasons, the biggest of which is that back when the USSR was still a potent power, its conquest in Afghanistan helped seal its demise.
Granted, the U.S. contributed to their failure. Even so, as fighters, Afghanis and their Muslim extremist counterparts who converge to wage Jihad are formidable. Further, the terrain is difficult to negotiate and provides natural protection to those who know well its nooks and crannies. Afghanistan has long been corrupted by warlords and extremist groups.
One thing that unites Afghanis is honor. They loathe foreign intrusion. In lieu of it, they’ll fight among themselves but in the face of incursion, they unite and are willing to suffer greatly to repel it. They don’t mind dying in large numbers… it brings honor.
There’s no ethnic/cultural cohesion in Afghanistan. Specific groups dominate territories. They compete for resources, land and power, which continues to change the Afghani map. That makes it harder for an outside force to establish and maintain consistent local intelligence, because different sects maintain different loyalties and relationships between sects often is dynamic.
Afghanis are also inextricably linked to the drug trade. In addition to its biggest cash crop, the Opium Poppy, marijuana grows wild in Afghanistan. It’s also farmed in copious quantities. We hear far less about Afghanistan’s pot than its poppies but pot is everywhere there.
I personally feel that pot should be decriminalized but having a ready supply of high-quality herb is at the very least a “distraction” to troops, to say nothing of the availability of harder, truly dangerous substances like opiates. Both affect judgment, reaction time and alertness, all of which soldiers need. So even though I approve of recreational and medical marijuana use, pot use among soldiers can have deadly consequences.
The Taliban is a dire threat, to be sure. Once dismantled, it returned, took root and again thrives in Afghanistan. Our presence there contributes to its rapid growth.
For these reasons, I view ongoing military conquest in Afghanistan with extreme trepidation. I just don’t understand how it can turn out well.