America has often fought the wrong war, at the wrong time, and against the wrong people. The wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and now Afghanistan would seem to fall into such categories. Although, apart from the human tragedy, the enormous economic fallout of the Vietnam War might be imagined, the full outcome of the Iraq war must be awaited as it is not over yet. However, the debate on the launch of the Afghan war has only begun and it would take many more years to assess the damage, assuming the war is not going to end anytime soon. This war is also affecting neighboring Pakistan and creating a great controversy in terms of its economic cost and more importantly about whether it is winnable. Opinions vary, but those who doubt that the war could be won seem to be gaining ground.
Here are some of their arguments. Afghanistan was such a sectarian and unmanageable country that super powers like the Soviets and earlier the British failed to control it. This country has not changed much since those days. The enemy that America is fighting in Afghanistan is elusive and the situation on the battleground itself is very erratic and unpredictable. The daily news of horrors such as the recent killings of the chief CIA operative including 6 other colleagues in Afghanistan, and the unprecedented and ever increasing human carnage in neighboring Pakistan should provide some important clues. In fact, the escalating conflict and mayhem in Pakistan, a nuclear country, is now adding to the genuine fear that its nuclear weapons are not safe in the hands of its government.
Is America's goal to contain terrorism or to oppose organized Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan? If the fight is to contain fundamentalism, winning this war in Afghanistan alone is not likely to achieve it. The skeptics should only look at the unrelenting and vicious terrorist activities as well as the outright defiance that is spreading not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also in Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and many other countries, including America itself. (Note the recent shooting rampage by an American army psychiatrist in Fort Hood, Texas, that claimed 13 lives plus many more injuries). Clearly, there are innumerable signs that the conflict is spreading. Indeed, after the failed 2009 Christmas Day bombing plot on a flight from Amsterdam, the U.S. government imposed intense screening of passengers at airports worldwide from 14 terror suspect nations. America had thought that it had found a willing partner in the Yemeni government that would support the deployment of American troops to fight the rising Islamic militants there. But it has been reported that the government of Yemen has rebuffed the idea for fear of losing popular support.
Religious fundamentalism is nothing new as it has been in existence since the birth of religion itself. The main theme of every religion was supposed to guide people to lead a noble life. Yet human society has experienced enormous oppression, suppression, violence, crime, brutality, fatality, and war in the name of religion. No religion is immune from the appeal of fundamentalism, and fundamentalist practices are still very much in existence, though subtly in some cases and violently in others. Without a doubt, Muslims have had their share of religious violence, and the present situation is no different. But to blame only Muslims for what is happening now would be morally wrong. How could one justify what Jews are doing to Muslims in the Middle East? Does not anyone see how Israel is provoking the Muslims?
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