An Old Debate Wrapped in New Clothes

The traditional opponents in the Afghanistan/America debate have once again taken their place: buildup versus withdrawal. However, recent news reports lack any historical perspective of America’s presence in Afghanistan dating to the Cold War. Details of Washington politics are not sufficient to inform the public about the war in Afghanistan.

Begun as a proxy war between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S., the Afghanistan conflict has been a dumping ground for Marxist, capitalist and jihad ideologies as well as their common enforcement mechanisms: automatic weapons and explosives.


Karl W. Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to the oh-so-troubled “state” of Afghanistan, is now advising President Obama against troop increases given the amount of corruption he sees in the current Karzai government. Meanwhile, Obama’s security team, including Secretaries Clinton and Gates, support sending 30,000 additional troops.

That there was only jubilation on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, even though it coincided with Obama’s rapidly approaching moment-of-truth on Afghanistan, demonstrates that the media are blind to history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall was instrumental in the development of America’s policy toward Afghanistan, which had been until that moment to make the Soviets pay for their Asian adventurism. The event rekindled the very debate we are still having: buildup versus withdrawal.

Buildup did not win, but certainly neither did withdrawal.

Once the Soviet Union dissolved, the American CIA remained in Afghanistan supporting Pakistan's regional interests by funneling arms through Pakistani intelligence to anti-communist rebels.

Today the CIA is most likely on Karzai’s side since (a) this is the official American position and (b) his brother is a paid informant.

According to Steve Coll’s 2005, Pulitzer-winning Ghost Wars, the Karzai family supported the Taliban for reasons of political exigency. Now that position is surely untenable given that he has American backing, but the point is that alliances in these circumstances have been as inconstant as the wind.

Belief that the Afghanistan question can be answered without a little history on the table will not, in the most meaningful sense, produce any lasting results.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

Videos
  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less