Michael's Dispatches

Afghanistan: A Dream That Will Not Come True

57 Comments

03 February 2009 

Afghanistan is a gaunt, thorny bush, growing amid rocks and dust on dry windswept plains, sweltering deserts, and man-crushing mountains. Its neighbors are treacherous. The Afghan people are mostly living relics, only more advanced than hidden tribes in the Amazon, but centuries behind the least advanced European nations.

Afghanistan is a gaunt, thorny bush, subsisting on little more than sips of humidity from the dry air. We imagined that we could make the bush into a tree, as if straw could be spun into gold or rocks transmuted to flowers. If we continue to imagine that we can turn the thorny bush into a tree, eventually we will realize the truth, but only after much toil, blood and gold are laid under the bush, as if such fertilizer would turn a bush into a tree. We did not make Afghanistan what it is. Afghanistan has existed for thousands of years. It grows the way it grows because the bush drops seeds that make more bushes, never trees.


We must alter our expectations for Afghanistan. There are bigger problems afoot. The ice is melting, banks are melting, and the prestige of great nations that do great things is melting, because they thought they could transform a thorny bush into a tree.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kevlaur · 10 years ago
    Hey libs... how about adding something useful to the debate besides "bush lied, people died" or "people are dumb for being like steamboat jack"

    Michael,
    Hang in there. Afghanistan will be different, and tougher in a way, than Iraq. Russia is offering to help - a sop as they bring Kyrgyzstan back into their clutches with $ (this after they promised use of Manas as long as needed).

    Obama needs to use his hope and change charm on our NATO allies and re-invigorate them to help (article 5 not withstanding). A stable Afghanistan will keep Pakistan more stable and keep the Iranians in check.

    Keep the faith. Keep praying. We can do this.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TMLutas · 10 years ago
    I respectfully disagree with your pessimism if not your assessment of present conditions. It is simply not necessary for Afghanistan to advance to the level of the Bulgaria or Albania. They but need to advance to the level of the barbaric colonies of North America circa, oh 1750. I suspect that even these 'living relics' of the past can manage that.

    The genius of the democratic republican system is that repeated elections generate an improving political class so long as the polls are honest. 4-5 electoral cycles (perhaps truncated ones as in Iraq) and you have a populace that has acquired the habit of judging their leadership and holding them to account. The habit sustains the process and the polity self-improves after that until things grow so well that complacency kicks in and matters can degenerate.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike · 10 years ago
    The article has compromised truth with poetic sentences. The writer is a mere pesimistic indidual who has read Afghanistan's ancient history, not the modern one.

    Numereous surveys suggest that the majority of Afghans support NATO presence in thier country. This is a major turningpoint in this country's history as they historically opposed foreignors in their land. As a small nation, they have now learnt that should NATO leave, they will be swallowed and torn apart by greedy neigbours.. and that is the secret behind NATO's success - the support by the majority of the population.

    Should the US and NATO leave this country at the mercy of its neigburs again, as they did after the cold war, the cost of neglegence could be much higher than the 9/11 tragedies.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    rss · 10 years ago
    with which i must agree. afghanistan is an irrelevant outpost of evil, the thorny branch farthest away from its corrupt roots.

    sadly, a supermajority of elected officials - and even voters - in America are traitors to reason, the Constitution, and our national sovereignty. we won't turn our attention to Saudi Arabia until it is - once again - too late.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim K · 10 years ago
    RSS,
    The Saudi's are the root of evil, They play a doublegame very effectively and No US President will do anything while we are addicted to oil and In a depression. They sponsor all the madrases In Pakistan turning out Aq and Taliban faster than we can kill them. We should have fed them to Saddam. 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi's and on September 12 The only civilian plane flying was carrying Saudi's out of this country. Guess who they were carrying? Being from New York and knowing many firemen that died that day. I think the country deserves an answer. I would like to know!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    meh130 · 10 years ago
    If we cannot make it into a tree, then we must make it into a better bush.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    marinepapa · 10 years ago
    I have been a reader and financial supporter of Michael for a year now, and always look forward to receiving the latest e-mail notifying me of the posting of another of his articles.

    It is time for me to start putting in my 2 cents worth, because it looks like I'll be having a dog in this fight. My son, after being laid off from his second engineering job in the auto industry, decided to cast his fate with the USMC for the ensuing 5 years. After struggling through Parris Island as a 30 year old private, he upped the ante and applied for OCS. He was accepted and went through basic a second time - as an officer candidate. He next completed The Basic School and is now in training with a Recon Unit. So it is easy to imagine that he will be doing his thing in Afghanistan in the not too distant future. His mother thinks he is crazy. As his father, I am proud as hell of him. May God watch over him.

    My thoughts on the present situation is a little more positive than Michael's latest posting - but hey - doesn't everyone have a "down" day every now and then. But do we really have any choice? This international Islamist Extremist Movement isn't going to go away on its' own, and the US is the only nation strong enough to try to turn the situation around. We are going to be fighting the extremists for a long time to come, so it makes sense to me to try to attract their meanest "bad-asses" to a spot of OUR choosing and try to kill or capture as many of them as we can.

    For this plan to work in Afghanistan, we will be obliged to improve the security situation for the average (non-extremist) Afghani to the point that they, of their own volition, decide to fight with us instead of against us. Right now the best option (as mentioned in previous postings in this Blog) appears to be the establishment of 2 or "green zones" and slowly move out from there. That, and getting as much cooperation from Pakistan as we can in making live miserable for the AQs and Taliban hiding out NW territories.

    This Plan of Action also has an additional benefit not mentioned previously - and that is having a real, live laboratory for our armed forces to practice and improve their COIN ops on a continuous basis. After reading every USMC history book extant, I have come to the conclusion that the Marines' fitness and preparation levels deteriorate rapidly during times of "peace". To me, the biggest problem we will face is getting a majority of the populace, and the present administration, to muster up enough fortitude to keep on keeping on in this 1300 year war. I'm not real confident in that regard.

    Michael, keep up the fantastic work. I always look forward to reading all of it - whether I agree or not.

    I would also like to comment on the bloggers on this site. I read 25 to 30 different Blogs weekly, and without a doubt the intelligence, variety, insight, and (in most cases) civility exhibited on the MY Blog far exceeds most of the others.

    A good day to all, STEVE

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