Letter to the Editor: Leave Afghanistan? Not so fast…

This is in response to the November 22 article written by Daniel Medina entitled “Afghanistan war unwinnable.”

For a war that has seen eight years of grueling combat, cost 1,528 coalition and approximately 15,000 civilian lives, caused incalculable damage to the gubernatorial and economic infrastructures, and presented a significant threat to global peace and security, Mr. Medina’s suggestion to “leave Afghanistan” seems a tad hasty.

While his comparison of the quagmire of Vietnam and the current war in Afghanistan holds true in some respects, there are some key differences. At the time, it was thought that South Vietnam would be the domino that set the chain reaction of the spread of communism throughout South Asia. Whether that was fact or fiction is definitely arguable. However, the threat that the Taliban presented in 2001 and to date is undoubtedly fact.

The recent resurgence of Taliban forces throughout the Southern provinces of Afghanistan should not be taken lightly or without a properly heavy-handed response. The Taliban’s extremist policies, war crimes and blatant violations of the standards of the Geneva Convention are often forgotten in the muck of political discourse on the subject of what has been a long and arduous campaign. Let no one forget the long list of war crimes that have been committed at the hands of this “alternative government,” a selection of which include: suicide bombings, targeting civilians, civilians as human shields, harboring terrorists, murder of school teachers, burning school buildings, kidnapping and an incredibly long and convoluted history of abuses against women.

The purpose of this letter is in no way to discredit Mr. Medina’s article or his opinions, but rather to educate those who truly believe that an abandonment of our operations in Afghanistan, which would surely lead to a Taliban-controlled state, is a wise decision. The future outlook of Afghanistan is unquestionably grim. There is limited patriotism or faith in a central government due to regional alliance to local warlords. There is a dire lack of the resources and coordination necessary to combat the guerilla tactics of the remaining Taliban forces. There is also little hope of exiting the country in the next five years.

On the other hand, the consequences of an Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban and the grave threat it would present to both American and international security justifies not only “the lives of our servicemen, the price to future generations and our standing in the world,” but also our full understanding and attention as citizens.

During his campaign, President Obama described the war in Afghanistan as a “war of necessity.”  This war necessitates improved international cooperation, a unified effort towards infrastructure rebuilding and a renewed commitment to the citizens of Afghanistan that we will not leave their futures in the hands of the same extremists that oppressed them for 15 years.

-Thomas Barnes, junior