Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oh Afganistan

Sorry Taylor looks like I am doing Afganistan. The choice became ultra simple when I realized that my Books A Million discount card had expired and thus no more interwebs for me. How disappointing. I need the internet for it so I can link to you tube videos of the songs I am mentioning so you can have a better idea of what I am talking about.

Yes that’s right I will actually utilize the internet and create a multimedia blog post. This doesn’t happen every day. Mostly because I am lazy and I don’t want it to. Anyway here we go.

The Afganistan conflict is one of those things that seems to be on everyone’s mind lately and for good bloody reason. I mean after all we are spending billions of dollars on a country that isn’t us, thousands of people have died, Afganies don’t want us there, and we no longer want to be there. Superficial reason aside I have disovered that the average person has a massive amount of ignorance regarding the issues surrounding the conflict, the history of our involvement in the middle east, and some of the cultural problems involved.

As a result most people who demand we leave have a pretty good point. However they don’t really articulate their arguments properly because they don’t actually know what they are talking about. As a result many of the articles I’ve read in favor of us staying spend a lot of time explaining just what exactly is it that is going on over there and why it is important that we be there. Still it is hard to justify the loss of lives+the money on that area of the country. The three articles I’ve recently read all come from Forgien Affairs which is part of the reason why I like that periodical so much. There was an article against us staying, one for us staying, and one that was talking about how all the guns got there all in one issue. There is also some other neat stuff like why is it that the Russians are such pains in the ass. I want to take and synthasize some of the information I’ve acquired so that I can make some sort of sense out of the whole mess. And let me tell you it is a mess. I’ve never quite been so depressed about the news as I was after reading some of these articles holy fuck what a stupid mess.

Alright first of all lets start with why we should stay because everyone with even a passing knowledge in the conflict knows full damn well why we should go. During the year 2001 Afganistan was literally the worst country on the face of the planet. Less that 15% of the population had access to running water, less than 10% of their roads were paved, zero percent of the women were allowed to attend schools, they had the highest infant mortality rate, the lowest life expectancy, less than 20% of the population had access to a toilet. What is worse is that while a central government excisted it was largely ineffectual. When I say largely I mean fucking completely. The nation was really run by roving tribes of warlords, who would run their territories with an iron fist and they would kill anyone they didn’t like. This is slightly fine except that some of the people they didn’t like consisted of entire ethnicities so there are some definite complications involved here. I mean it got so bad that the economy completely collapsed and the different warlords would produce their own forms of currency to be used in their areas. We are talking some mad max style shit here. This place was worse off then Somolia.

Now? Now things are better. Almost 40% of the nations women are in school now. This has fantastic benefits that are far reaching as shit. More educated workforce, higher literacy rate, and better health practices are just the start of the benefits that the country will receive with its newly empowered gender. In addition over 45% of the country now has access to sanitation, 30% of the roads are now paved, 25% have access to water, and almost the entire country is receiving immunization shots against measles, and tetanus. Let it never be said that we haven’t made some fantastic strides in that country. The conditions some of these people were forced to live in are completely unimaginable and in ten short years we have done so much to turn the country around.

The problem now is three fold, one is that people are still trying to killus over there. That is a big one. The second biggest problem is the fact that the newly formed Afganistan government sucks. The third and more cerebral problem is just how well do we wanna fix these people up? I will deal with these problems in reverse order.

So just how good are we going to make this country? Both the one for and against us hanging around Afganistan touched on this point, and it is a good one. It is also scary that none of our policy holders seem to have any sort of answer to this question. See while we’ve made some pretty significant strides in terms of the quality of life for the folks in Afghanistan we are, by no means, going to be creating some sort of Middle East Utopia. So how far are we going to push it? There are literally hundreds of examples I could draw from to help frame this issue from refrigerated warehouses that will help support crops other than opium, to paving more roads, to rebuilding its central banking system. The thing is though, and both articles pretty much agree here, is that we are not going to get our monies worth out of this. There is no way we are going to get the billions of dollars back, there is no way we are going to make it so that we have a country indebted to us. Pretty much the best we can hope for is to create a relatively stable government that won’t try to destablize the rest of the region and turn around and kill us.

Since I just mentioned the Afgani government I might as well switch gears. All three of the articles I read pretty much agree that their govenerment sucks and that we seriously fucking dropped the ball when it came to making sure that ther newly created government is strong enough to resist/fight corruption, along with the insurgents. In this task we have failed stupidly and we should be ashamed. There still just isn’t enough of it to hold itself accountable for its misdeeds. As a result not much of the aid money we keep funnling into the country goes elsewhere like into rich people’s pockets. That’s no good. What is even more troubling is that some of the arms and weaponry we are providing the government with to fight the insurgents ends up in the hands of the insurgents. Which means here we are creating our own cycle of violence.

Here is where the first article that is in favor of us leaving starts to weigh in. And while it still rubs me the wrong way I am starting to agree with it. The authors plan is to pretty much just give up on the South and Eastern Afganistan and instead they would focus on continuing to focus on their attensions on the north and western parts of the country. The southern parts are where all the horrendous mountains, valleys and urban conflicts all take place. The idea is to leave those places pretty much entirely. We would still provide intelegance and aid to anyone who wants to continue to resist Taliban rule but for the most part we are just going to divide the country in half. While I don’t like this solution at fucking all I feel that it might be the best choice.

See strong governments take a long time to form. One of the main differences between the Narco terrorism of columbia and the narcoterrorism in mexico is that Mexico currently has a much weaker government that columbia did in the 80s as a result they are havng a harder time fighting the drug trade…that and we are being incredibly unhelpful while still buying all their drugs woo go america. There was a point to that. See if Mexico’s government is still so weak even after how long it has been around and under fairly good conditions then we have to expect that Afganistan’s government will similarly take a decent amount of time to get going to a point where it can function correctly on its own. By essentially splitting the country in half we give their government less to focus one fixing, a goal to work twords, and it frees up a massive number of our troops which will give us a break from some of the constant fighting. I don’t agree that a total withdrawal from the area is a good idea. Like I think we should still run join missions in there along with Afgani forces. Then slowly as the country is ready it can assimilate more of its land back. I do think that this is the best option even though it is incredibly harsh.

There is one main problem in this equation. And that is the USA. I am running low on time so this last point might get a lil cramped. See one of my biggest questions is that how are a bunch of cave dwelling, malnourished, men managing to give our army so much trouble. This is an honest question I mean by all accounts we should be able to just brush these folks aside. I mean they are just irregular troops this shouldn’t be hard. In civilization terms it would be like your late game marine unit getting beaten up by some blokes wearing gear being used in WW1 and 2. However, that is literally what is happening. No seriously they took a rifle off an insurgent that was made in 1915. It was originally killing the germans in WW1 and today it capped an marine. There is something seriously fucking wrong with THAT picture now isn’t there.

The Afgani conflict has tought us something. We have no idea what the shelf life of a combat rifle is because they are still being used today, from WW1 and WW2 and the cold war. What we do know is that a bolt action rifle can fire reliably under some of the harshest conditions known to man for years on end while still remaining incredibly accurate. Afganistan in particular, for whatever reason, has ended up as a dumping ground for all the world’s discarded weapons since WW1. So when we upgraded to better rifles in WW2 all the previouse rifles when to the middle east and Africa. After WW2 when nato was formed more weapons were dumped because NATO uses standardized weaponry. As a result all non standard weapons were sold off in bulk some as cheaply 15 dollars apiece assuming you bought over 1000 at a time. Essentially? That movie Lord of War understated the incredible damage arms dealers do to the developing world. What is worse is the legal arms sales that we have taken out. Many of these sales have been done by the US with little to no oversight as to where the weaponry is actually going. As a result, due to massive incompetence on our part when it comes to dealing with left over weapons from bygone conflicts. There has been a couple of times we have tried to pressure other countries to meltdown their stockpiles of left over, outdate weapons. However as these countries what us make leagal arms deals with other countries and they saw there is a huge market for them the rightly told us to fuck off. The cold war was the largest military build up in the world’s history. When it ended all those guns went somewhere. Now we are paying the price. We need to seriously need to reexamine how it is we are going to work with these sorts of countries in the future because they are shooting our old guns at as because we were to lazy to take care of them ourselves. Also we need to stop buying their drugs but that’s something else. We most certainly need to stop giving guns to one of the most corrupt governments in the world without seriously tracking where every gun is going and holding accountable those that misuse them.

Man I sound like an anti gun person at the moment. I’m not. But for fuck’s sake this is a lil ridiculous especially when you consider that we ARE STILL FAILING TO DEAL PROPERLY WITH THE WEAK AFGAN GOVERNMENT. Ugh I don’t really want all of that in caps. Oh well.

The whole thing is very frustrating, our complete lack of concrete goals, along with a generalized failure in both the part of our and their government leads to a situation with no good answers. It angers me because I know that this whole thing could have been done much better. Well that’s that then. Books a Million is closing and I think I am going to eat milk and cookies while watching Brick cause I lurve that movie.

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