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The Hell Hole of Afghanistan

Updated on July 15, 2011


The frightening images of a rising death toll caused by suicide and roadside bombings, disturbing sights of fighting men and women returning home to America and their grieving loved ones, in body bags are enough to make our stomach churn. Seeing that Iraq and the many thousands of returning dead, maimed or crippled in that conflict are still fresh in the nation’s mind. Many old enough to remember the ghost of Vietnam, an American modern military nightmare silently whispers not again. We are not yet completely out of Iraq, and while that still is fluid, the Afghanistan conflict adds to the misery many leaders and military heads now accept is an impossible war. Some go as far as to question the validity of our war strategy and the decision to go in, recalling the Soviet Union went in and left with egg on their face. Why did President George Bush think we could be more successful where the Russians fail?

The American people accept the consequences of war, men and women know the dangers they faced when they put on the uniform. People wear the uniform proudly, to many a kind of badge of honor, the highest sacrifice to serve and die for their county. But will a people now steeped and growing in distrust about the reasons for going to war, accept the consequences of an unjust war? Will the almost automated response, “we fight them there to avoid fighting them here, on our streets”, settle the mind of the skeptics? Out of Afghanistan comes daily news of more and more atrocities enough to blow the mind of the uninitiated. Will the American military defeat the Taliban or will this be another Vietnam, with us coming out with multiple body bags and a hollow victory? Will we escape this hell hole which is Afghanistan with pride in our arm forces, and leaders?

Just this week the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, echoed a called for a complete revamp of military strategy in the country. This came after a sweeping review of military operations and by making this call, he acknowledges that the present approach to the war is a disastrous one. Many before him have been calling for a changed policy, sighting the growing power of the Taliban's while support for the Kabul government decreases. Nevertheless, many in and outside the military have been suggesting for some time that there needs to be much better coordination of effort in Afghanistan. Commentators say changing the emphasis from charming militants to capture the hearts and minds of the Afghan people should be a top NATO priority.

General McChrystal describes the present policy of NATO as comparable to a bumbling bull attacking a matador's cape, progressively exhausted to ultimately being destroyed. The recently appointed general will advise President Obama on the options of sending additional troops which would increase the 108,000 NATO troops already in the country. The American military confirmed two more of its soldiers were killed in an explosion recently. Also a further two British soldiers were killed recently, showing that the death toll in this Afghan war is on an international scale. The figure does not make it any easier to swallow in America but, this to the British has made worse what is already the deadliest year for foreign troops since the 2001 invasion. These latest casualties took the total number of UK service personnel since operations began in 2001 to 210. The men were killed in a blast while on patrol north of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, known as a Taliban heartland and where the heaviest fighting is concentrated. .

The British are not expected to announce any major changes in the number of its troops personnel in Afghanistan, whatever happens with his US counterpart. The British military is indicating that they have effectively increased their contributions by maintaining the extra number of troops sent to Afghanistan this year to help with the yet undeclared elections. Despite those negative misgiving about the conduct of the war general McChrystal is also sending out a positive message that despite the lost ground, victory was still possible. He is quoted as saying, "The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort." Some indication is that the general has lost no time as he already begun to implement the new war strategy, charging NATO forces not to fire or drop bombs if there is a risk of civilian casualties. He also indicated another milestone shift in focus from a policy of poppy crop eradication which is known alienate farmers, to attacking traffickers. Another part of the change strategy is that of encouraging the international forces not only to train Afghan forces but operate alongside them in the war arena.

The US military has some 63,000 personnel in Afghanistan, with another 5,000 planned to joined that number. However some US military strategists are suggesting that US would need to deploy from 7,000 to 40,000 more troops to make a visible difference in Afghanistan. But sending more troops would be politically difficult for the President, in light of dwindling support in the US for the war. People in the corridors of power involved with the Afghanistan conflict doubts that the recent presidential election makes a difference especially with questions continue to be raised about the legitimacy of the war. Hamid Karzai, the incumbent president, is said to have a strong lead over the top challenger, Abdullah Abdullah in the recent yet undeclared polls. Karzai had 45.8% of votes counted, while Abdullah stands at 33.2%, with ballots from almost half of the country's polling stations counted. Karzai will need 50% of votes to avoid a runoff.

Whatever the outcome of the elections, whoever wins the final tally there are still suspicions about their capability to give Afghanistan the radical leadership and chance it needed. To solve this tricky problem many commentators are openly calling for talks with the Taliban. However with so many different factions that is the Taliban it’s going to be tough diplomacy and finding a frontrunner that is willing to lay down his arms. Obviously they will have to find someone that commands a wide following within the group and influential enough to make a lasting peace deal. Can the war in Afghanistan be won solely by military means? I think not, send our soldiers home from this hell hole!


The hell hole which is Afghanistan

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  • Kenny MG profile image

    Kenny MG 8 years ago from A Child of the Universe

    I think you too are a worthy oponent, yet not so much that as we really want the same thing. We as men sometimes ignore that fact we are on the same sides, but argued on method rather than goals. I look forward for this continued banter on relevant issues, to you I lift my hat.

  • readytoescape profile image

    readytoescape 8 years ago from Central Florida

    We both write from the same view of recognition. “Turning the Other Cheek” can also be defined as restraint, something the world has done for decades as the enemy became bolder and stronger. I only suggest given the present conditions we commit to granting their desire by arranging and accelerating transportation to paradise. Great debate, your words are well taken, I look forward to a continued dialogue via published hubs and/or comment. As I have stated we all want peace, you are a worthy ally to that end, we only diverge as to method.

  • Kenny MG profile image

    Kenny MG 8 years ago from A Child of the Universe

    Readytoescape, you argue from a point can only be discribed as strong in your resolve. You are a man of convictions and I like that in a man. However, Kenny Rogers, in an 80's song determines, "son, sometimes you've got to fight when you are a man". But he also in that song repeat over and again, "it don't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek". Now I understand that to be a biblical quote, which promotes peace, encouraging, "seek peace and ensue it", also that "if it be possible be at peace with all men". I am under no illusion that you can live in a world lead by weak men and don't expect war. Your point about Islams intentions are noted, and probably not documented enough. I understand that their intentions are to spread their hate around the world and they repeatedly stated they will never stop until America and Britain becomes Islamic republics. That goal is being progressed as we speak as there are more Muslim converts each year in the west than any other religion. Secondly, I am not advocating walking away from the problem and I will even go as far as saying I agree with Rogers, that sometimes you've got to fight. Running away from a bully never solve the problem until someday either by the help of a big brother or frind to stand up to him. The fact is sir, those people see it as their God given right to kill, as you aslo have quoted some of their writings. People who beleive they are going to inherit paradice if they die for the cause have nothing to lose but a lot to gain i in their eyes that is. So the threat of bombs, whether nuclear, plane from the sky, suicide by car or any other means is ever present. Am I contending that America and the west should be scared and hide away somewhere? Certainly not, that would even give them more to fuel their propaganda. Neither am I promoting that everything can be solved by war, but peace efforts must be given a chance work. Or else what would have we become? An eye for an eye eventually leaves everyone blind, tit for tat violence does not work.

  • readytoescape profile image

    readytoescape 8 years ago from Central Florida


    I do not argue your points, In fact, I agree with your anti-war position but only to a certain line. We all “wish” War was a mania only in History. I do not argue from a pro war position, but more a stance as described by Theodore Roosevelt, “If I must choose between peace and righteousness, I choose righteousness.”

    Neither do I profess to have all of the answers, but I’m pretty sure of the questions; those I raised in addition to yours. You correctly point out negotiation with moderates calmed things in Iraq following the surge, but those talks could only be successful once the “evil” was removed from the table, and possibly only for a short period of time in that, according to the “Doctrine of Taqiyya” the “Believers” shall use deception in negotiations “Let believers [Muslims] not take for friends and allies infidels”

    And from the Tafsir, “If you [Muslims] are under their [infidels'] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them, with your tongue, while harboring inner animosity for them. … Allah has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels in place of believers — except when infidels are above them [in authority]. In such a scenario, let them act friendly towards them.”

    These quotes are employed and practiced by all but a very few sects of Islam. So can a lasting peace actually come from diplomacy when the core belief of the opposition obligates them to deceive when in a stance of self perceived weakness?

    I must also woefully admit Iran, North Korea and the Islamic fundamentalist groups, albeit from a contradictory philosophy, all would quote Mr. Roosevelt’s sentiment as well. Here in lies the real issue that will not be denied by diplomacy. This terroristic war has raged for decades, only recently have we entered the fray with the conviction to end it, finally recognizing the real threat as it is.

    Much has been made of centuries old beliefs fighting for dominance over a 21st century world, you must realize as many on “my side” of the discussion do, our “enemies” can only “win” if we allow them to develop 21st century weapons and we lose the stomach to stop them. For with their antediluvian methodology, once obtained, there will be no restraint. They clearly have demonstrated this intent time and time again by the thousands of attacks on innocents around the world.

    I also assert these “enemies” choose to be so, we, and I define “we” as the rest of the world, have had a histrionic “War” forced upon us. I don’t not wish to initiate debate of Islamic motivation; but extremist convictions must be recognized as a major contributor to the present circumstances and the realization this “enemy” will not just stop because we “decide” to no longer fight.

    My family like so many others feels the extreme pain and mourning each time we see or hear of the fallen. Perhaps even more than others in that it could be our sons in those coffins, but we are steeled in the reality these boys and their brethren fight for their principles in preserving the freedom, tranquility and the protection of others from those who would defile and deny our very existence for their own beliefs.

    Again, I do not argue your anti-war points, they are as salient as heart felt, I only bring to the discussion the other side of the most complicated situation this world has ever known. The pitfalls and consequences for the world could be beyond the scope of anything ever experienced in history, most especially if we lose our fortitude.

    Thank you for allowing me to comment and for your sophisticated and articulate response.

  • Kenny MG profile image

    Kenny MG 8 years ago from A Child of the Universe

    Thanks for your contribution readytoescape, I agree with some of your sentiments, you argue your points very forcefully and eloquently. Equally, I disagree with some points, and it is clear you argue from a pro war position. We all have a right to our views and you have to support your sons. However, learning the lessons of history the world would have been better prepared to deal with as you say, "an enemy that has no shame". The many wars in that country dating back centries and includes the British long before the USSR, tells us that peace cannot be won there soley by military means. It is true a terrorist will kill the innocent to accomplish his objectives, but does a powerful modern nation and army do the same? How many more Americas will have to return home in body bags, leaving young wives as widows and young children fatherless? 9/11 was an unimmaginable tragedy on the American psyche and so was the Lockerbie bomb. But how many more innocent including men and women in uniform will have to die for us to see some sense? I argued my point from an anti war standpoint, because war breeds more war and bloodshed will bring the same result bloodshed! I agree with your comments, "We must get the resolve to finally eliminate organized state sponsored terrorism now or will we wait, allowing them the time to develop the capability to perpetrate the irrevocable atrocities as they have sworn?" Your point is well made here, but the answer you propose has not solved the problem, what is does is embrazened those states to build weapons in secret. Those were being built both in Iran and North Korea while a strong George Bush was in office. Obama came and wanted to start the peace initiative afresh but this was refused by north Korea exploding nuclear weapons, and in the last week Iran was discovered secretly building one. Military threats to many people is like putting ketchup on barbeque they are not intimidated. Dialogue with moderate elements in those states must be allowed to run its course. When the surge happened in Iraq changes did not come about soley by that, but by having discussions with moderate elements in both Sunni and Shehite camps, they in turn started to work with the western forces to drive out the Islamist foreign fighters, It was not done soley by surge. I am not suggesting for one minute to start discussions with terrorist groups, but working with moderates elements in those countries and offer meaningful incentives will make a difference. It's about finding a hand, making a link, giving them a voice. They will then realise they have a vital part to play in ensuring the future of their countries.

  • readytoescape profile image

    readytoescape 8 years ago from Central Florida

    A very well written hub exercising your point of view with many interesting and concise questions as to the strategy towards attaining victory, but the question you do not ask is what is the definition of victory? The focus of this definition is and should stay the eradication of those that would kill us, given the time, opportunity and chance. Our goal, as is the goal of the rest of the peace and freedom-loving world, is to that end and denying them such opportunities.

    The “mistakes” if they can be called that, have come from Nation Building, not in warfare. Although I can tell you as the father of two servicemen that between them have served seven tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, in warfare the gloves must come off. Which is indeed partially what happened during “the surge.”

    We are fighting an enemy that has no shame, hiding amongst “civilians” too cowardly to stand and fight and whose strategy is to win the war using the media as it’s major weapon. The enemy consistently decries and announces “collateral damage” spoon-feeding the liberal minded press continuous salvos of “see what they did.” The ten years of strife in America during the Viet Nam War are the base tenants of their war plan. Fully counting on the squeamishness and lack of resolve of the American public and the resulting capitulation. And while I will agree the Viet Nam War was a horrific decision from the start, the prosecution and its toll was worse, in that the total commitment to defeat the enemy was not exercised. The major flaw was allowing the enemy to dictate the terms of battle, otherwise known as diplomacy.

    Claiming the war is unjust is parlance for acquiescence, not a strong negotiating stance. And to whom do you propose we open diplomatic talks for resolution? As policy and stalwart avowal we do not negotiate with terrorists. Should you do so, you provide them the powerful weapon of legitimacy. Win the war, forget the nation building, “Hearts and Minds” has been a failed strategy from its concept, derived from the avoidance of full military commitment to placate the antiwar mob.

    But you are correct in that a decision must be made, decide to win and do what it takes to win or bring them home. The latter decision however only postpones the inevitable. If we withdraw how long would a nuclear Pakistan maintain its control? When will Iran’s maniacal leaders sneak a weapon of mass destruction into the hands of Hamas?

    We must get the resolve to finally eliminate organized state sponsored terrorism now or will we wait, allowing them the time to develop the capability to perpetrate the irrevocable atrocities as they have sworn?

    What we should be screaming, is where is the rest of the world in this fight? You are correct, too much American blood has been shed, like it has been on so many battlefields defending the rest of the world. We should be demanding all nations commit to this War.

    George Bush was correct in saying “you are either with us or with the terrorists,” in this there is no middle ground. No one wants war, but if you are going to fight one, use all the resources available to win it without backdoor diplomatic restraint. That is the true lesson of Viet Nam, one that should be honored and remembered for all those who fell teaching us that fateful warning.

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    Thomas Royale 8 years ago

    My question is why does mankind expecially in the west feels everything can be settled by military means?

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    Samantha Drake 8 years ago

    Get out I say, war and bloodshe is never the answer and many young lives are being sacrificed.

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    Paulette Symons 8 years ago

    Send our men and women home, to much widows and fatherless children are being created.

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    Tony Parkinson 8 years ago

    Well written but there must be an exit strategy. How much longer will our government linger there sacrificing young lives?

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    Nicole Nimchuck 8 years ago

    Get out I say, the lost of life is too great and the cause for war is never justified if you beleive in the universal human worth.