Afghanistan: “Why and to what end?”

Afghan ChildrenLately I’ve begun to seriously wonder if we as humans have reached our limits of information intake and/or processing. I say this because I realize that there are many important issues in the news and in our lives, but I cannot for the life of me think of any other reason to explain the lack of interest or concern by the American public about the situation in Afghanistan.

In the past few days, I ‘ve read the following articles which, when put together, form a picture of a disaster in the making:

Maternal mortality across the world

U.S. official resigns over Afghanistan war

Karzai declared winner after Afghan rival withdraws

Reading the first article, one gets a shocking glimpse into the desperate living conditions in which the  average Afghan woman lives:

In the other corner, Monisa is fighting for her life. In her early 40s, she is in her 14th pregnancy. Five of her children have already died.

Later that day, her five-month old foetus is delivered, dead. But Monisa pulls through despite a weak heart.

Changing the fate of women in childbirth means changing so much of life here. There is no electricity, no running water, no paved roads.

Outside the capital, a trip to the clinic – if it exists – can mean walking for days, traveling by donkey, or if the family can scrape together enough money, by car.

Many women are carried on wooden planks or ladders supported by four men, including an anxious husband.

Matthew Hoh resigned his position with the Foreign Service because he understands that the average Afghan citizen is more concerned with life in their own remote village than with the Afghan “nation” fighting the Taliban. So he resigned in protest of what he describes as:

… doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.

Why and to what end.

And when I read yesterday’s news of Hamid Karzai’s “win,” it did not take much to read between the lines. He was declared the winner after his opponent withdrew from the race:

The commission acted after Karzai’s challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, dropped out of the race Sunday because he said the vote would not be free or fair following a fraud-marred first round.

The people in the villages, the women traveling by d0nkey — or worse — to deliver a child, they already view Karzai as a corrupt ruler put into place by the American forces. How does this declaration make his validity any better?

Again from the Washington Post article on Matthew Hoh:

But many Afghans, he wrote in his resignation letter, are fighting the United States largely because its troops are there — a growing military presence in villages and valleys where outsiders, including other Afghans, are not welcome and where the corrupt, U.S.-backed national government is rejected. While the Taliban is a malign presence, and Pakistan-based al-Qaeda needs to be confronted, he said, the United States is asking its troops to die in Afghanistan for what is essentially a far-off civil war.

Emphasis mine.

As the White House deliberates over whether to deploy more troops, Hoh said he decided to speak out publicly because “I want people in Iowa, people in Arkansas, people in Arizona, to call their congressman and say, ‘Listen, I don’t think this is right.’ “

With “multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups,” he wrote, the insurgency “is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The U.S. and Nato presence in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified.”

This week, Hoh is scheduled to meet with Vice President Biden’s foreign policy adviser, Antony Blinken, at Blinken’s invitation.

If the United States is to remain in Afghanistan, Hoh said, he would advise a reduction in combat forces.

He also would suggest providing more support for Pakistan, better U.S. communication and propaganda skills to match those of al-Qaeda, and more pressure on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to clean up government corruption — all options being discussed in White House deliberations.

“We want to have some kind of governance there, and we have some obligation for it not to be a bloodbath,” Hoh said. “But you have to draw the line somewhere, and say this is their problem to solve.”

Sending more troops is not the answer to this situation. President Obama needs to end this violence being done in the name of us, the American people.

Image from gregmortensen.com. If you have never read Three Cups of Tea, go now — run — and read this book.

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