A Puzzled Housewife Researches the War in Afghanistan

Last week, my husband returned from a six month deployment in Afghanistan.  So politics haven’t been on my mind much.  Mostly, we’ve just enjoyed family time.  The separation is hard, but reunion is the reward.

With hubby still cleaning the moon dust off his boots, I got a little curious.  How is it going over there?  And are they talking about it much in the mainstream news outlets?

My husband and I have lived the military life since before 9/11.  Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have been a constant for us for a long time.  Also, we don’t have cable TV, and I don’t turn on the local news unless a hurricane is on the way.

It’s hard for me to get a feel for what is common knowledge and sentiment outside of the military community.  Now, President Obama has said for a long time that we were gonna be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  So that is probably common knowledge.

But then recently I read that he wants Afghanistan’s President Karzai to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that keeps US troops there until 2024.

Well that’s confusing.  So I started googling.  Here’s what I found.

Apparently, personnel designated as “combat troops” would withdraw under the BSA, but Special Forces and other counterterrorism personnel could remain another ten years.  This semantic hair-splitting allows President Peace Prize to continue claiming that the war will end in 2014.

I also found out that President Karzai might not sign the BSA, and if he doesn’t, then Obama might be forced to withdraw all troopsJust like Iraq.

Here’s some more tidbits that I found:

Duh:  Iran opposes the foreign presence in Afghanistan.

Oh really?  Thomas Jefferson used the Quran to devise the legal, moral and ethical stipulations for the American Constitution.

Good grief:  The US considered spending $4 billion of foreign aid to get Afghan men married.

Oh dear:  Both sides of the Afghanistan conflict are using Syria as a training ground.

And here’s some things I didn’t find:

I didn’t find much in the way of antiwar protests against the potential extension of the Afghanistan War.  I googled various key phrases, and the best thing I found was a HuffPo article (Amusing sidenote: guess which president is featured in the photo of this 2013 article?)  It’s about a handful of diehards that hold weekly protests in Montpelier.  Good for them, at least they are consistent.

I also didn’t find many recent official statements about the Afghanistan War, beyond the claim that it is ending soon.  Mark Levin recently lamented the lack of a definitive mission in Afghanistan, so I wondered whether that was true.

Whitehouse.gov was my first stop.  If you hover the cursor over “Issues,” a list that includes Defense pops up.  Oddly, the only specific subtopic is End of Iraq War.

Clicking on the topic Defense gets you some Guiding Principles.  There, we learn that President Obama’s new comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan

“will ensure that all elements of national power are engaged . . .  in an
effort to defeat al Qaeda to prevent attacks on the homeland and on our Allies
and partners.”

You have to click on the link to the new comprehensive strategy for more information.  There, you will find statements like

“We will achieve these objectives [by] . . . targeting the insurgency, working to secure key population centers, and increasing efforts to train Afghan security forces.”

“we are focusing assistance on supporting the President of Afghanistan and those ministries, governors, and local leaders who combat corruption and deliver for the people.”

So there is a mission, and maybe it is comprehensive, but it’s awfully confusing.  We will defeat Al Qaeda by targeting them?  What does that mean?  As long as we are going after them, that is a victory?  I guess the assumption is that Al Qaeda will give up after we target them long enough.  I wonder how long that is.

I had a look over at the Department of Defense, too.  They included Afghanistan as a specific subtopic in “Top Issues,” but disappointingly it was just a link to a NATO homepage.

What’s my conclusion?  Oh, I don’t know.  I hate forming opinions on policies that place friends and loved ones in harm’s way.  Please do share yours in a comment.  And remember all the deployed personnel in your prayers tonight.  And maybe every night until 2024.