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Get a hold of yourself, America: We must win this war

By John Sanford Friedrich


Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010

Sometimes Americans are “the good guys.” I know that’s a difficult notion for a lot of people to accept these days, especially for liberals – and I say that as a liberal. But what, exactly, is liberal about a 50-year-old toothless goatherd taking a nine-year-old girl for a bride, and then proceeding to “consummate” the wedding with her in a room full of people? Or when a village, that has few standing structures, builds a wall: not to start a school, but to topple on accused homosexuals. Can you imagine a land where all music is outlawed, all poetry books burned, and television is a forgotten technology? I wouldn’t want to live in a world like that, and I bet you don’t either. But neither do the Afghan people.

If we leave, the Taliban will win. That means a return to children being forced into sex and not into school, and homes where women are slaves. Apparently, a slim majority of Americans think that the war in Afghanistan is over; that we lost and the bad guys won. If you think that, you should be ashamed of yourself. Majorities aren’t always right.

You cannot be anti-war and anti-Taliban. You have to choose a side. I don’t know how to put that any more simply. The Taliban is a rugged, tough force and no other group aside from us and our NATO allies have the men and women to stop them. Maybe you’re just tired of the war. I am too. This should have been over more than five years ago. Alas, President Bush convinced a majority of this country to invade Iraq instead. By early 2007, another majority thought the Iraq war was lost. I was part of it, and I was wrong: Iraq has stabilized and there’s a real chance it could prevail as a secular democratic country.

Vice President Biden wants us to only worry about bombing al-Qaida bases and do nothing to fight for democracy and human rights. Does that sound “liberal” to you? Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also thought we could win wars with a small, tech-heavy force, and limited contact with the conquered population. It didn’t work so well then, and I don’t think bombing terrorist compounds and weddings with unmanned drones is the way forward. Do we want to be the type of country that lets innocent women and children who are now under our protection return to suffering beneath the tyranny of men who reject the very notion of freedom? Are we that war-weary that we can’t even tell when we are fighting a good fight? Unless you’re a Sean Hannity fan, you realize America isn’t always on the right side of history. However, this time we are the right side. The Taliban are much like the Nazis – only without music or literacy.

President Obama is apparently rather busy flailing around Washington and hustling his weakly-conceived mandatory insurance plan along with his wealthy supporters in the insurance industry. He hasn’t found time to stand before our troops and allies to unleash his eloquence over the just cause of liberating Afghanistan. Sadly, as a progressive, I find myself aligned with the conservatives on this issue. To their credit, they haven’t forgotten the vows we all made on Sept. 11, 2001. Unfortunately, even many of those interested in winning the war feel that way for what I think is the wrong reason – simple self-protection. We should fight hard to keep another attack on our soil from happening, I’ll never argue against that. But America should stand for more: we should rebuild the Afghan people and show the rest of the world that if we can work together to build a functioning and free society there, then there is no place on Earth where freedom can’t exist. Less than a thousand of our brave soldiers have died in the war. 10,000 people in Europe and America die of Afghani heroin each year, according to The New York Times. If we retreat, the Taliban may double heroin production. Do we want 20,000 more people dying, and countless more lives ruined by addiction? Get a hold of yourself, America. We will win this war. Failure is not an option.

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