Recently, Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said that Western governments are ignoring the lessons of the utter failure of the Soviet invasion 29 years ago. The question “Why Do They Hate Us” is asked on all sides.
Twenty years after the last Soviet tank left Afghanistan, neither the ruggedness of its terrain nor the unruffled defiance of its people have shown any sign of weakness in the face of the renewed invasion, albeit by an international coalition.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are being waged on the basis of impulsive hubris and assumed superiority of the Western fighting machinery on the ground and in air. But for the mess and ‘getting nowhere’, it is Pakistan that gets scape-goated.
Without the 24/7 presence of the overhead Predator drones, foreign forces in Afghanistan are isolated and regularly ambushed by the Afghan or Taliban guerillas. The innocent civilians who become victims of the Western frustration are summarily labeled as ‘suspected Taliban fighters’.
Unfortunately, Washington’s pooch Hamid Karzai sits hundreds of miles away in Kabul to never verify, let alone question, these claims.
Pentagon’s first ever assessment since 2001 invasion gloomily recognizes that Afghanistan- once portrayed as our poster land of success in the war on terror – is now rivaling Iraq as the biggest nightmare. Roadside bomb attacks jumped from 1,931 in 2006 to a record 2,615 in 2007. In all, 6,500 people were killed in 2007, also a post-invasion record.
Death of 30 Pakistanis including 11 soldiers in a recent US air strike shows that the American-led war in Afghanistan is become erratic and messy.
Is this a moment of joy for Obama who had not long ago suggested bombing Pakistan? Or a scoring point for the war-obsessed-I-said-so John McCain?
In the final analysis: the Soviets followed the current military approach in Afghanistan and failed. Only it took them eight years to realize. When will we?
How it is that in the past three decades, we perfected the weapons (1000- pound cave busters for God’s sake) but only regressed in the planning and execution of war? Why it is that the long nose of hubris is all that we thumb at the world but extract nothing from the bloodied pages of history? Since when did the bribed and borrowed lull on the streets of Diyalah, Diwaniyah, Mahmoudiyah and Ramadi, become the testimonial for peace and ‘all-is-well’?
This Fourth of July, when we celebrate our precious Independence amid BBQ, beer and fireworks, let’s all pause for a moment. Let us gather around friends and family and reflect on the innocent embers that spark our passion and deepen our patriotism around this time of the year. But then let us also think collectively about the very flame of arrogance that our leaders have used to singe others like us within lands thousands of miles away – for no apparent reason at all.
Who knows, reflecting on the events of the past 7 years might just jolt us to a new realization. Why can’t others whose land, lives, honor and civilization we have plundered, ask the same question we have been asking of them since 9/11: why do they hate us?