Unintended Consequences and the War in Afghanistan

Chaos continues to grow in Afghanistan, and while the rest of the world concerns itself with such things as gas prices, two American soldiers, and at last count, 12 Afghans have died as the result of a mistake:  sending copies of the Qur’an to a burn pit with other trash at Bagram Air Field.

The question that I pose is:  Why wasn’t anyone aware that Qur’ans were being burned? If they were being disposed of for the fact that there were radical writings in them as some have claimed, why were the Qur’ans not picked apart by translators and preserved as intelligence or evidence to indict militants (not to say I believe in the conflict or the means utilized in it)?

This seems like too big an oversight by the military, and in my opinion, not merely a mistake. This mistake has turned into a liability in which Americans and Afghans have died, not something to be taken lightly in today’s world. Care should have been taken to realize what was being put into the burn pile, especially in such a sensitive religious environment.

The other question I pose, as I have in previous writings, is:  Why is the United States military still engaged in Afghanistan? With the death of Bin Laden, our mission should have been concluded there. But to some, the idea of nation-building is still too appealing, and apparently, our security is in jeopardy as a result of the Taliban and other elements, groups by no means capable of waging an effective conflict in the United States territories or mainland. These groups have the means to fight a protracted conflict in the mountainous terrain in which they grew up in, just as they did with the Soviet Army in the 80s. The Taliban and other groups merely have to do as any other armed group fighing an occupying power does — to survive and outlast that power, which I have no doubt they have the capability and the endurance to do.

While the multiple groups in Afghanistan are not bleeding the United States military dry in terms of manpower in Afghanistan as they did the Soviets, the cost in money is truly staggering. According to Costofwar.com, the total cost is over $500 billion and rising by the second, not to mention the costs of the unfunded liabilities — healthcare and benefits that are due the soldiers and their families.

This money, if not produced from deficit, taxation, or inflation, could be possibly hiring untold numbers of people, creating capital.  Perhaps if those dollars were not monetized into debt, the gas price increases that everyone, including myself, are concerned about would not be such an issue. The policy makers in this country need to learn about unintended consequences and soon, before a bigger Pandora’s Box is opened overseas.

After almost eleven years in Afghanistan and not much to show for it, isn’t it about time to leave? To concern ourselves with taxpayers here and the continually souring economy that many have claimed is in recovery? Isn’t it about time to remove soldiers from harm’s way, so that they are not killed as a result of a “mistake”?

Perhaps a way to honor soldiers is to let them live out the rest of their lives in peace, away from bitter conflicts that some of them are unfortunately very familiar with due to the fact that they have served multiple tours overseas, when they would prefer to be with their families and children. Perhaps a way to change the world for the better is a call to peace and non-interventionism.

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