Tags: Afghanistan

Get Out of Afghanistan — Now

Monday, 20 Oct 2008 02:46 PM

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There are those who object to the war in Iraq, but who continue to support our military efforts in Afghanistan. There is now an ongoing effort to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

We and NATO currently have 62,000 troops in Afghanistan, 32,000 American and 30,000 coalition. The Afghan war, which was approved by the United Nations, is going badly. The Taliban is using Pakistan as its base from which to attack American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

When our troops strike back with airpower, either in Afghanistan or Pakistan, they often kill innocent civilians living with the Taliban and we are denounced by the Afghanistan government which depends on American troops to survive, and the Pakistani government.

One recent American offensive, according to The New York Times on Oct. 17, “shook the already strained relationship between the Bush administration and the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai. American officials have criticized the Karzai government for what they say is its incompetence and corruption.

"Mr. Karzai has struck back with demands that American commanders rein in their airstrikes, saying that civilian casualties have undermined popular support for the war effort. After the Azizabad strike, President Bush called Mr. Karzai to express his regrets.”

Azizabad is in an area where, according to the Times, “Taliban forces have been battling NATO forces.” Guerrillas make it their business to infiltrate civilian areas to provoke civilian casualties caused by the coalition and American forces, while fighting to fend off the Taliban and the forces of al-Qaida led by bin Laden.

President Karzai apparently does not inspire his own people. His brother is rumored to be a drug lord in charge of the poppy fields of Afghanistan. The Times, in an editorial on Oct. 15, reported that his brother “may be involved in the heroin trade that is pouring $100 million annually into the Taliban’s coffers.”

We are not capable of responding to Taliban war crimes. The Times reported on Oct. 20, “Taliban insurgents pulled some 50 passengers off a bus in southern Afghanistan and beheaded as many as 30 of them after accusing them of being soldiers traveling in civilian clothes, Afghan officials in the region announced on Sunday.

"The police chief of Kandahar Province, where the attack occurred on Thursday, said that of six bodies retrieved so far, all had been beheaded, mutilated and dumped. The police had received information that 24 other people had been killed but had yet to find their bodies, the police chief, Gen. Matiullah Qati, said.”

If Afghan soldiers are forced to defend themselves against the Taliban, they are likely to find ways to deal with Taliban cruelty, ways which American soldiers could not and should not use.

Were we simply to bomb Taliban hideouts, we would be denounced by Karzai and others around the world for killing innocent civilians as well. In the meanwhile, our soldiers and our allies are suffering casualties.

The Russians, then Soviets, left Afghanistan in 1989 admitting they were unable to bring it under control. Before they withdrew, they sacrificed the lives of 13,500 of their soldiers.

The Russians are far more willing than others to offer up the lives of their soldiers. They lost 10 million soldiers fighting and defeating the Nazis in World War II, losing 300,000 soldiers in the taking of Berlin alone. If the Russians could not win in Afghanistan, neither can we.

We should get out now, leaving Karzai with the arms and tanks to equip Afghanis to fight for their democratic state against the Taliban.

Our NATO ally, Germany, while willing to send “another 1,000 troops” is unwilling “to deploy them in southern Afghanistan where the fighting is heaviest.” Are we the only country required to expose our soldiers to danger everywhere to protect the free world? Is there no limit to the blood we must spill of our own people and the treasure we must spend?

Teachers Should Not Impose Political Views

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is one of the most politically powerful municipal unions in the country. It is led by Randi Weingarten who is now also president of the American Federation of Teachers, the UFT’s national parent.

Recently, the UFT filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court demanding that teachers be allowed to wear political buttons in the classrooms of the public schools. The lawsuit was initiated because the Department of Education, according to The New York Times on Oct. 11, “sent a memo to principals directing them to enforce the longstanding regulation which requires that all school staff members show ‘complete neutrality’ while on duty.”

Weingarten defended the UFT demand. The Times quoted her as saying, “she had watched teachers balance their obligations as professionals and their responsibilities as citizens.” She added that “teachers, maybe more than others, understand how important the Constitution is, particularly the Bill of Rights.”

Common sense dictates that children, above all, should not be made to feel that because they support other political candidates, they might face retaliation by a teacher or principal. On Oct. 18, the Times reported, “A federal judge on Friday upheld New York City’s policy prohibiting public school teachers from wearing political buttons in the classroom . . .” In my view, the court made a correct decision.

Students, on the other hand, are not barred from wearing political buttons while in class and the school building. That’s the way it should be. Teachers should not impose their personal political views on the children they teach.

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