Afghanistan War: Obama's Vietnam

Authors: Nake M Kamrany, Lauren Deife, and Dimitri Beshkov

President Obama's legacy is being tarnished for having been engaged in seven foreign wars in third world countries during two terms presidency including the U.S. - Afghanistan war which is now in its 15th year. President Obama delivered a profound speech on May 27, 2016 at the site of Hiroshima in Japan articulating the futility and horror of atomic war that took place 71 years ago and killed tens of thousands and destroyed two Japanese cities - Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, it is perplexing that he concurrently ordered extension of U.S./NATO military presence in Afghanistan for five additional years which contradicts his disdain for wars. In Afghanistan many of the villages have already been destroyed into rubbles after 15 years (2001 - 2016) of incessant bombing.

No other U.S. presidents have been engaged in seven wars for such a long duration. During the campaign of 2008, many voting citizens believed that Obama will be a peace president in contrast to his predecessor George W. Bush who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama inherited the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He withdrew from Iraq war although the foot soldiers are back in Iraq now due to ISIS insurgency.

Obama said that the Afghanistan war was the right war without explaining why. Initially he increased the level of troops by 30,000 foot soldiers in Afghanistan which caused higher U.S. casualties. Then the number of troops was retrenched to approximately 11,000 and promises of complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan were made to the American public, but to no avail. Currently U.S. war in Afghanistan is in its 15th year, the longest American war in its history. And on May 20, 2016 the U.S. along with NATO members agreed to extend military occupation for five additional years which will extend the occupation to 20 Years. In the meantime the U.S. has already sustained enormous damages in blood and wealth in Afghanistan war.

Ostensibly, trends have not been favorable for U.S. occupation. It has lost 2400 soldiers, sustained approximately 30,000 wounded and disabled veterans, and has spent more funds in Afghanistan war than the total budget of the U.S. Marshall Plan that was expended for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Moreover, abject poverty and high unemployment has increased in Afghanistan over the last 15 years of U.S. occupation. The Taliban's control of population and territory in Afghanistan has widened and stability has detreated.

Moreover, incessant bombing, destroying thousands of villages and killing millions have turned the population against the U.S./NATO occupation. The NATO strategy has produced many Afghan refugees who have emigrated out of Afghanistan. It has radicalized many Afghans including governmental soldiers who are on U.S. payroll. Afghan soldiers have frequently shot and killed NATO soldiers. Recently, one such soldier who killed two NATO soldiers went ON TV with no regrets and said that over the last 15 years U.S./NATO has done nothing but kill, torture and destroy. These killing are not isolated, at least hundreds of NATO soldiers over the last years have been shot by Afghan government soldiers who are supposed to fight alongside the U.S. forces. They are radicalized as they find U.S./NATO military operations unfair and forbidding.

Our policies have contributed to radicalization and a sense of opposition that arguably justifies and legitimizes radical responses and provoking such behaviors as suicide bombing. IDE explosions, and explosions on the part of peaceful citizens who are willing to sacrifice their own lives in response to our military attacks. In the final analysis indigenous groups take pain when their countrymen, women, relatives, other villagers and children are being killed by foreign powers.

Given the free flow of people, information, internet and communication internationally plus incitement and reinforcement by insurgents or in retaliation to incessant U.S. drone and air attacks even average citizens decide to retaliate at their own risk. Our military offensives contribute to radicalization, anger and revenge by individuals who turn "lone wolves." However, such probability could be checked -minimized or eliminated - by a shift in U.S. policy to withdraw its soldiers from the war zones and reach peace. A policy of rapprochement with these groups via diplomacy is the optimal solution..

As a superpower, the U.S. should endeavor to guide rather than fight these third world nations and encourage education, economic development, and civility and adopt a policy of live and let live. Otherwise, these third world county wars could go on in perpetuity.