It’s autumn in Iowa City, Iowa where I teach courses in literature and disability studies at “the big state U” and like tens of thousands of my fellow Americans I find that I cannot square my conscience with the prevailing rhetoric that America must “stay the course” in Afghanistan. In my humble opinion it is time for our troops to come home from Iraq and Afghanistan and its time for our nation’s leaders to conceive of the serious multi-lateral diplomatic challenges that face all (and I do mean “all”) nation states in the post 9-11 world.
I do not believe Afghanistan can be usefully compared to Viet Nam. I do not believe that the Russians’ history there has any bearing on the current American situation.
But I do believe that we are wildly unpopular in 90 per cent of Afghanistan for the simple reason that we are outsiders. And the longer we stay and kill civilians whether by accident or design the fiercer will grow the resistance to our presence.
No call for additional troops can solve this. NATO has largely abandoned us.
I see no evidence that by staying American forces can win over the fiercely tribal rural regions which comprise most of Afghanistan.
Me? I’m just a minor league philosopher-poet in a small town. But if history is any guide we may win more loyalty from Afghans by leaving “as a military presence”.
“Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”