The shoes...a symbol of what violence has achieved in Iraq.
We should try non-violent methods first, in all our considerations of foreign affairs, in all cases where we are tempted to use violence, in all situations.
$10, 000, 000, 000.00 a month is a powerful tool. Iraq has clearly demonstrated what $10 billion dollars a month can do if spent on militaristic solutions. The results: devastation for an entire nation of innocent civilians, and a strong recruitment surge for the terrorists.
We should try spending that money in Afghanistan on non-violent solutions…for 5 years!
Solutions for what problems? Let’s stick to two problems for the moment: Afghanistan is a threat to us to the extent that it provides support to international terrorists, and Osama bin Laden may be hiding in Afghanistan.
The US Dept. of Defense stated mission in Afghansistan: “…to overthrow the Taliban regime and destroy the al-Qaeda terrorist network it supported…”
The U.S. contributes troops to both the UN’s ISAF mission and the US’s Operation Enduring Freedom, tasked with pursuing al-Qaeda throughout Afghanistan’s inhospitable border region with Pakistan.
The Taliban regime has been overthrown. There is a new government in place and the UN continues to support it. We have to recognize the fact that, according to the Director of National Intelligence, Michael McConnell, “most of Afghanistan is under tribal control”.
One cannot destroy a terrorist network by violent action. I used to speak of the 50-100 civilians killed for each combatant killed and how that guarantees a legacy of hatred that feeds directly into recruitment efforts of the terrorists. I now think the number is between 3 and ten civilians killed for every combatant killed. I am no longer sure of the correct ratio, but it is horrendously weighted to the civilian side of things, even if you discount the extraordinary events of mass civilian casualties such as carpet bombings and atomic attacks. These do shift the weight to larger numbers, but they are real as well.
Violence is not the answer. You cannot kill a violent insurgency with violence. It is better to take the non-violent approach and dry up its most important resource: the support of the populace. This can best be done by avoiding violence where possible, and at the same time supporting the well-being of the populace, hopefully through a strengthened central government able to deliver the security and services that make it valuable to the people.
Help stabilize Afghanistan by helping its people resist terrorists. Tribal leaders have no interest in the Taliban taking control of their areas except when the central government fails to protect them from crime. We can help the Kabul government ensure that tribal leaders derive more benefit from supporting the central government than from protecting Al Qaeda.
Put the money into programs that mirrors Obama’s stated plan to help the US economy. Focus the $120B per year on jobs and infrastructure. The UN’s Transitional Islamic Government of Afghanistan policy statement for the transport sector is a good programmatic example in which attention to roads helps the central government protect its citizens and provide more services to the general population.
Acting in the best interests of the people of Afghanistan will do more for us that using violent efforts. US Military action in Afghanistan is now doing more harm than good to the people directly affected by the conflict. In Iraq we have created a reservoir of hatred against us that will echo through generations. In Afghanistan we have a chance to make true friends by using dollars, not bullets, to solve problems.