President Barack Obama wrote an apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for U.S.-NATO personnel reportedly throwing copies of the Koran into a burning rubbish pile at the Bagram NATO military base. He promised appropriate steps to avoid a recurrence and to hold responsible parties accountable. I suggest his only suitable action is to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan. He can find the responsible party in the mirror.
Some so-called foreign policy experts rate this incident a public relations disaster for foreign forces in Afghanistan. However, the main provocation was U.S. Military forces invading and occupying Afghanistan in 2001 and the attempt to restructure its culture. The 8832 Afghan civilians reported dead on December 31, 2010 and the 3021 killed and 4507 wounded in 2011 add to the aggravation.
For eleven years, the Afghan people showed a reluctance to join their police and armed forces in enough numbers to provide safety for their communities and nation. The people showed that they valued certain principles over benefits gained from siding with U.S.-NATO forces. Probably the hardships they suffered from the war justifies this outlook. Despite this history, American leaders claim only the need for more training prevents the Afghan police and military from acting competently. This claim contradicts the facts.
Thirty-six American military members died in the Afghanistan War so far in 2012. Eleven of the few names I checked ranged in age from 20 to 25 years old and most were noncommissioned officers. This mean that American children from age 9 to 14 in 2001 at the start of the war completed schooling and military training to fight in Afghanistan now. Nevertheless, American leaders claim that even with American military instructors this eleven-year period has not been enough time for the Afghan government to train police and armed forces able to secure safety. This is a dubious conclusion given that people from the same culture compose the opposing Taliban forces. Only arrogant people would believe this jingoistic claim by their American leaders.
United States forces invaded Afghanistan October 7, 2001 when the Taliban leaders refused to turn over al Qaida leaders that planned the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. By 2002, Hamid Karzai was elected leader of the interim government. On January 4, 2004, the Council approved a new constitution designating Afghanistan an Islamic State with a strong president. Karzai won election as president. Islam is the national religion and the basis for all laws. The president must be Muslim. However, its constitution extends freedom for other religious practices.
The Afghan people have the right to their religious-based culture and government. However, it differs from United States’ culture with a constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. Our continued occupation in Afghanistan forces American military members to defend a religious state and take sides in a religious war. This government action violates a fundamental principle of American freedom that religious expression is a right of the individual and not a role of government. The United States can and should have cordial relationships with Afghanistan, but not involve itself as the protector of the internal affairs of a religious state.
President Obama should show as much concern that our military presence in Afghanistan does not violate American moral and cultural principles, as the concern he expresses that military members do not violate the Afghan people’s religious and cultural values. Obviously, former President George W Bush crossed that line violating American cultural values when he continued U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan after its January 4, 2004 creation as a religious state. After that date, U.S. military was supporting one side in a religious war. President Obama continues this assault on American values by continuing the troops there.
Current events show it is past the time when U.S. Military forces should have left Afghanistan. Nevertheless, Obama's apology and American military leaders’ promise to instruct its members how to treat Islam religious material shows clearly that our government’s role in promoting a religion. In addition, it’s clear that Obama's concerns stem from his desire to continue U.S. - NATO military presence there until the 2014 and after by signing a pack with the Afghan president. Those motives confirm that he concluded the Afghan people have not fully embraced the government reconstructed by foreigners and they will not defend it. His plan for an extended military presence in Afghanistan commits the United States to perpetual war.
No matter what strategic advantage against the Taliban he believes this military presence in Afghanistan gains for the United States, Americans must consider what they lose by compromising fundamental American cultural values of freedom along the way.
"The United States goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is a well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. If the United States took up all foreign affairs, it would become entangled in all the wars of interest and intrigue, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own soul." -President John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams
“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
― James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison
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