NATO's Pull Out of Afghanistan
NATO's Chicago summit seems to have put the organization's pull out of Afghanistan onto a shorter timeline. The mission in Afghanistan is a losing battle. The country is a tough nut to crack. NATO and the US is the third military superpower that could not handle an occupation of Afghanistan. First there was the British Imperial Army in the 19th century, then the Soviet Army in the 1980s, and now the American led NATO mission which have all failed to effectively control the country. It is no surprise that many US allies are planning to pull out of the country as soon as possible. France and Canada has recently announced that they plan on pulling out by the end of 2012, and Obama himself has shortened the US mission to end by December 31st 2013 instead of 2014.
US public opinion has become tired of this quagmire of a war. The political, social and cultural divisions in Afghanistan are much more complicated than they were in Vietnam for example, where the war was fought on much more clear cut ideological lines. The situation in Afghanistan can only be understood by those who have taken the time to study the indternal conflicts of the country as well. The cultural and social values in that country are very much different from Western ideals of capitalism and democracy. Also, the decade long war has cost untold billions of dollars at a time when the economy and unemployment and health care issues in the States are more important issues for the average American.
In the Chicago protests against NATO there were former US soldiers who served in Afghanistan who threw away their medals. This is not something that the main stream media really likes to focus on because it goes against the hero image of soldiers who are supposedly happy to be bringing "freedom and democracy" to far off countries at the cost of their limbs, mental well being, or lives. This is the longest war in American history, and the media does not even cover what exactly the US mission is in the country and what is going on on a daily basis. Establishing "freedom and democracy" is a very vague and undefined mission which is hard to grasp without being given specifics. The Taliban is far from having been destroyed and is in fact stronger than ever in some areas of Afghanistan. If the world's strongest military alliance couldn't bring a group of fanatical guerillas to heal in over a decade at the cost of billions of dollars and thousands of lives, then it doesn't look as if it ever will. Of course an American pull out will be seen as a defeat by many, and it will appear that all the sacrifice of lives and taxpayer dollars has been all for nought, which some in the US government and the military-industrial complex would like to avoid at all costs. However, the outcry of public opinion against the war cannot be overlooked anymore. It may be better to just cut their losses and leave the country to figure things out for itself. The US military is overstretched and over worked. Many soldiers come home disaffected by their experience and their prospects for a job are weak, which understandably leads to dissatisfaction with the whole military and government.
The US cannot be everywhere, and military spending is starting to become embarrassing when there are so many economic and social problems in the United States which could use the funding instead. The conduct of wars should also be put to a referendum. When people have to make the choice of going into war themselves then they tend to be more cautious and responsible than when they are just told to follow a decision by their government to go to war. It is likely that people would think twice about going to war when the choice would actually be in their hands instead of a government overly influenced by military industry lobbies and gung-ho politicans who see war as a game of power and not for the consequences it brings about for all of those on the ground and for those actually footing the bill.