War Without Purpose by Chris Hedges

by Chris Hedges
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
July 20, 2009

Al-Qaida could not care less what we do in Afghanistan. We can bomb Afghan villages, hunt the Taliban in Helmand province, build a 100,000-strong client Afghan army, stand by passively as Afghan warlords execute hundreds, maybe thousands, of Taliban prisoners, build huge, elaborate military bases and send drones to drop bombs on Pakistan. It will make no difference. The war will not halt the attacks of Islamic radicals. Terrorist and insurgent groups are not conventional forces. They do not play by the rules of warfare our commanders have drilled into them in war colleges and service academies. And these underground groups are protean, changing shape and color as they drift from one failed state to the next, plan a terrorist attack and then fade back into the shadows. We are fighting with the wrong tools. We are fighting the wrong people. We are on the wrong side of history. And we will be defeated in Afghanistan as we will be in Iraq.

The cost of the Afghanistan war is rising. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded. July has been the deadliest month in the war for NATO combatants, with at least 50 troops, including 26 Americans, killed. Roadside bomb attacks on coalition forces are swelling the number of wounded and killed. In June, the tally of incidents involving roadside bombs, also called improvised explosive devices (IEDs), hit 736, a record for the fourth straight month; the number had risen from 361 in March to 407 in April and to 465 in May. The decision by President Barack Obama to send 21,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan has increased our presence to 57,000 American troops. The total is expected to rise to at least 68,000 by the end of 2009. It will only mean more death, expanded fighting and greater futility.


via Truthdig

Copyright © 2009 Truthdig

Chris Hedges, who spent nearly two decades as a war correspondent for The New York Times and other newspapers, is the author of “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle,” due out in July.

From the archives:

War Is Sin by Chris Hedges

The Disease of Permanent War by Chris Hedges

Becoming What We Seek to Destroy by Chris Hedges

Shadow Secrets (2008)

9 thoughts on “War Without Purpose by Chris Hedges

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  5. A guerrilla army fighting against a foe with vastly superior weapons will always depend on the local population for support- like food, shelter, intelligence reports and much more. The more US bombs are dropped on defenseless civilians, the greater that support will become. The more of these remorseless drones that attack Pakistan, the more hatred will be produced for the United States. Once Iraq was one of the best educated and well constructed countries in the Middle East. Now it is Dante’s inferno. No or little electricity, no clean water, no sewage treatment plants, little health care and one could go on and on. Of course, Chevron-Texaco, Exxon-Mobil and Shell don’t care. The black gold is still underneath the surface.

  6. Let’s face it, mission hasn’t been accomplished yet in Iraq, far from it, and it just isn’t going to happen as we wish and hope it would. We are practically losing in Afghanistan and the latest charade of events in Pakistan are worrisome to say the least, and have the potential of turning into a whole new scale and level we haven’t had to deal with before.

    So why haven’t we been able to win any of our wars yet, regardless of the might of our forces?

    To win a war, decisively, it takes a national commitment of resources and men, like we did in world war 2, and that’s hardly the case, especially with our endeavors in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We sure can kill a lot of people there, but what’s ironic with wars like these, which we persist on not learning, is the fact that the more you kill from people like Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the more people join them, not only from their countries, but from other countries who share their dogma and dreams of going to heave as martyrs who died fighting a holy war, against the U.S, the great Satan of the western world. Yes, we didn’t enter this war by choice like we did in Iraq, which was too for all the wrong reasons, it was forced upon us, and we had to go after Al Qaeda and those who sheltered it when they attacked us on 9/11. We had no hand in starting it, but we should have the smarts and strategy to know how get out of it, smartly, carefully and as soon as possible.

    See, militarily we aren’t going to win this war no matter what we throw at it, and history is rife with examples of powers who tried to do it in Afghanistan and failed, and I don’t think we are going to be the very first exception. The best we can hope for is a graceful exit, leaving there a government and an army who can continue this war, until…sorry to say, until that government collapses and the Taliban come back to power again.

    That’s my educated prediction for that country, gloomy maybe, but real, no matter what our leaders, political and military say. You just can’t win a war where most people of that country support, one way or another, the other guys, while at the same time more and more people, our people, are getting fed up with this futile war, which we are not sure why are we still fighting it to begin with, and which we – well, those of us who can see it for what it is – will never win in the true sense of the war.

    The question, which no one will give us an answer for is how many of our soldiers we need to lose before we call it quits and get the hell out of that hell.

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