“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

History Repeats Itself In Afghanistan and Pakistan

Reports on Friday and Saturday indicated that the Taliban is using civilians as human shields. This article seems to imply that this is a surprise. I fail to understand why it should be. This has been a tactic of intimidation used by every terrorist guerilla warfare group, at least in recent history--Hamas, the Taliban, all the way to Vietnam, Moa, Che Guevara, and even farther back in time. Unfortunately, the frightening part of the article is the last paragraph:

On Friday Karzai said "we cannot justify in any manner, for whatever number of Taliban, for whatever number of significantly important terrorists, the accidental or otherwise loss of civilians."
Like it or not, civilian suffering is a part of standing against evil. The Taliban, or whatever extremist group you care to name, will always use that suffering to get their opponents to stop fighting for fear of hurting innocent someone. They will try to plaster the media with how ugly the destruction is that gets “imposed by the good guys.” We must remember one very important thing. THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE SUFFERINGS OF OTHERS. And, extremeists will never be stopped if we put suffering or some other difficulty ahead of defeating those extremist groups. Taking President Karzai’s statement at face value would indicate he has already given up the will to fight. For the sake of our soldiers, and those of supporting nations, I hope not. If that occurs, Afghanistan will become another Vietnam for someone.

But, then again, given Thursday’s announcement that US troops won’t go to Pakistan just brought flashbacks of Vietnam to me. Any student of history knows that a big reason North Vietnam overcame the South was the ability to hide and build forces in Laos and Cambodia. The communist forces successfully controlled those other countries, and then used them as bases. With the take over of the Swat area and areas closer to Islamabad by militant forces, coupled with the inability of the Pakistani Army to turn back the tide (some reports indicate they are being complicit in the takeover), this is looking more and more like Vietnam. Contrary to popular media reports, Bush did indeed set us on the road to get out of Iraq. His timetable has become the same timetable that President Obama is using. The question now becomes: will Obama be able to get us out of Afghanistan without the disgrace we suffered in Vietnam?