Briefly, sadly noted: Today, October 7, 2010, begins the tenth year of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. How’s that hunt for Osama bin Laden going? How’s that expansion into Pakistan  going? How much taxpayer-supplied money has the U.S. spent on the war in Afghanistan? That we can answer: more than $352 billion (thanks to the National Priorities Project ). How many dead? 1,321 U.S., 339 U.K., 472 other: total = 2,132 (per iCasualties.org ). These are not statistics, but individual human lives lost forever.
What are they dying for? For how much longer? If “we’re fighting for freedom,” are we free to say “enough”? Free to withhold our taxes from the Pentagon ? (Didn’t think so.)
Does “Operation Enduring Freedom” = War That Never Ends?
For the first year or so, we like most Americans agreed with the necessity of an invasion of Afghanistan because we trusted that the U.S. and allied forces actually intended to and would be able to capture bin Laden and crush al Qaeda (and not just drive them down to Pakistan). That was a long time ago. Readers can see our views on the whole damn thing in hard-hitting, award-winning posts like “Deeper into Afghanistan: 360 Degrees of Damnation ” and “Afghanistan: More Insane Than a Quagmire .” Other Afghan War pieces can be found here .
Lastly, let us quote again the revealing remarks by former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski that suggest what the U.S. is in for (note the count of 10 years), and the sobering observation by Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit:
“. . . the reality, secretly guarded until now, is . . . [that] . . . it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. . . . That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap. . . . The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”
—Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter; interview  with Le Nouvel Observateur (Paris), January 15–21, 1998
“Notwithstanding the damage al Qaeda and the Taliban have suffered . . . bin Laden’s forces now have the United States where they have wanted it, on the ground in Afghanistan where Islamist insurgents can seek to reprise their 1980s’ victory over the Red Army [of the Soviet Union]. Al Qaeda now has the chance to prove bin Laden’s thesis that the United States cannot maintain long-term, casualty-producing military engagements . . .”
—Michael Scheuer, Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America  (2002)
Links to veterans’ and peace groups on our “Anti-War” blogroll (right column).
Photograph by Tim Hetherington  for Vanity Fair: American soldier in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley after fierce fighting with Taliban. Winner of 2007 World Press Photo Award. “This image shows the exhaustion of a man—and the exhaustion of a nation,” observed Gary Knight, chairman of the World Press Photo jury.