January 6, 2010

As silly as this old axiom sounds, there is truth in it.  What is most amazing, it is a lesson we learn over and over again.  We all face problems we don’t understand or know exactly how we wound up with them.  That is part of life.  Where we (the people and our government) fail is in not recognizing the problem and addressing it.  In other words, we fail to stop digging.

On a national level, we dig with gusto when a problem arises.  We were attacked on September 11, we go attack Afghanistan.  When a problem creeps up, not finding bin Laden for instance, we attack Iraq.  For this particular problem we dug many holes to say the least.  For the sake of brevity, this article deals with one.

Our difficulty in finding the man responsible for the attacks began on September 12, 2001.  Rather than seeking to understand what happened and how to address it, the Bush administration wanted to use the attack for its own purposes – to justify overthrowing Saddam Hussein.  The administration held the belief that sending in a large force, in sort of a dragnet fashion, into Afghanistan would scoop up the leaders of Al-Qaeda, liberate the Afghan people from the Taliban, and allow them to focus on their real objective of getting rid of Hussein.

Here we are, over eight years later, with only the Bush administration’s true goal, getting rid of Hussein, achieved.  As far as solving the original problem, finding bin Laden, we just kept digging the hole and turned Afghanistan into a Grand Canyon of a problem for us to now try to solve.  In using the force of military might to overthrow the Taliban and hunt for one evil man, we acted much like the guy that uses a hatchet to remove a mosquito from his face.  He’ll get it off his face, but he won’t kill the mosquito and his face pays a heavy price.  A better course of action was to track him down in a covert action and just put a bullet in him.

What to do now?  We stop digging.  We cannot make Afghanistan into a country they do not wish to be.  As wrong as it may seem, we have to leave them to make their own choices and fight their own battles.  There is no question that we started a real mess there.  Our current actions will not clean it up.  We see only the possibility of al-Qaeda having a safe haven if we don’t stay.  The problem with that thinking is they have safe haven now.  It makes no difference if we are there or not.  We cannot use the excuse of al-Qaeda to keep us entangled in Afghani cultural issues that have existed for centuries.  We have to tell them it is time for them to be the masters of their own fate and leave them to it.  Only then can we stop digging and solve our original problem – finding Osama bin Laden.

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