By Wes Pedersen
The downing by the Taliban of a NATO helicopter with 30 American and eight Afghan commandos is a bitter lesson for all those who would prolong the war in Afghanistan.
Let’s not mince words: We have not tamed the Taliban, the Taliban is taming us.
Forget the administration’s claims of days ago that the insurgents are being defeated. That is true only in one sector. We are losing in another.
Forget, too, the notion that the enemy is insurgent. The Taliban is defending Afghanistan because it is their country and we are still the invaders, still the occupiers.
We are getting ready to reduce our forces there. Let us not be seduced into believing that we are leaving with honor, or that a new surge of manpower would finish the job and we would look like the heroic nation our last two presidents have claimed it to be.
Face up to it: We have committed Vietnam all over again.
We will leave behind collateral damage as we did in Vietnam. The thousands of Afghans who have collaborated with us over the years will be potential targets for locals who remember them as running dogs of the infidel foreigners.
Meanwhile the enemy forces have an unending supply of arms and secretive devices with which they harass and hound any U.S. forces remaining there.
The Chinook copter was felled by a rocket, one of many available, with launchers, in Afghanistan. The country was left with a generous supply of them when the Russians withdrew after ten years of their own penance. We have stockpiles of them there now, and Pakistan, our fraudulent ally, has been a supplier.
Hidden roadside bombs are now claiming more and more lives and limbs in Afghanistan. They’re cheap and easy to make.
George W. Bush prolonged the war, not wanting to be charged with the loss of Afghanistan. He started another, claiming, falsely, that Iraq had a secret horde of weapons of mass destruction.
Barack Obama blew the chance, as new president with new national and international agendas, to leave Afghanistan with minimum delay and perhaps retain a semblance of honor. He debated in the Oval Office until Americans grew fed up with the unending loss of lives and finance.
We cannot afford, in any sense, to delay our exit from Afghanistan.
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Wes Pedersen is a retired Foreign Service Officer and principal at Wes Pedersen Communications and Public Relations Washington, D.C.