The complexion and complexities of war

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GaryFlowersBox

(NNPA)—My readings and radio research recently revealed an interesting set of disturbing facts relative to the United States “war” in Afghanistan. Not withstanding the original purpose of killing Osama Bin Laden (done) and eradicating the presence of Al-Quaeda in Afghanistan (done), not to mention the colossal amount of money given to American defense contractors, our nation’s presence in Afghanistan seems to be a little more than military base maintenance.

Last week, I read a commentary by Richard A. Dickerson, former Senior Director for Strategic Communication for USAID in Kandahar, Afghanistan and listened to an interview on Pacifica Radio “Democracy Now” show with Amy Goodman. Dickerson stated, “I asked whether it was important for the staff to reflect the makeup of the country. At first, the official from Washington, D.C. acted as if he did not understand the question, then he attempted to make a joke, and finally, he asked what country I was referring. The next day during a staff meeting a senior USAID official suggested that we should be careful what questions we ask. I was later told that this was not the time or place to ask these type of questions.” After speaking with local tribal religious leaders, Dickerson realized, “even the illiterate know that America is more than middle-aged White men.”

Goodman interviewed Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis, who wrote an article in Rolling Stone titled, “Truth Lies in Afghanistan.” During the interview, Davis asserted that to his dismay, after interviewing more than 200 military personnel across Afghanistan, he learned that the U.S. Army only controls the areas immediately around American military bases. In other words, there is not much “war” going on. More disturbing was his observation that most Afghans who shoot at American forces are rarely pursued or followed. Hmmmmmm?

If the United States is “at war” in Afghanistan, and if we are there to “win,” by what means does our nation define “winning?”

Forty-five years ago Dr. King so eloquently reminded us in his under-exposed speech at the Riverside Church in New York (exactly one year prior to his assassination) that we as a nation should “study war no more.’

Today, we must ask: If war is a must, in a country of brown people, why is not the leadership of our invading military force composed of more than White males? Such is the dilemma for the United States Army in its long war in Afghanistan.

History may have the answers. As far back as Ghengis Khan, to the Russians 30 years ago, invading armies have met certain defeat in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. American soldiers and our nation’s economy deserve better. Money wasted in Afghanistan today can be better used for domestic priorities such as public education, health, and housing.

(Gary L. Flowers is executive director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc.)

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