Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fight Them Over There, Not Here?

The attempted terrorist bombing by Faisal Shahzad in New York City May 1, 2010, conclusively disproves the theory that "if we fight them over there, we won't have to fight them over here."

The truth is, apparently, that fighting them over there has little or nothing to do with fighting them over here. All of our efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, now spanning about eight years (twice the time it took to win World War II), have not resulted in an ability to keep would-be terrorists outside our borders or foil their plots in advance (no doubt with some exceptions).

Meanwhile, we continue to lose American lives -- for what? To prop up a corrupt Afghan government (NY Times, 6/13/10, p. A1) that puts the most flagrant of American political disasters to shame (ok, with the possible exception of Watergate)? To curtail violence in a country in which suicide bombers continue to wreak havoc not only on American soldiers but on their own indigenous population (LA Times 6/12/10, p. A8)?

Let's put things in perspective. This country was outraged, with good reason, when 2,976 people (not including the hijackers) were killed on 9/11/2001. Since then, approximately 4,400 members of the U.S. military have been killed in Iraq, and another 1,000 have been killed in Afghanistan. CNN estimates that approximately 50,000 NATO soldiers have been wounded in both areas combined (most of them American, no doubt, since we supply the vast majority of combat troops). Meanwhile, peace is still not at hand in either country.

Is this an intelligent course of action?

Might we not be spending our precious resources (both lives and money) more intelligently to improve border security and beef up real-time investigations of people who rent vehicles with cash and purchase large amount of fertilizer (the ingredient of choice in home-made bombs -- used, if you recall, with devastating impact in Oklahoma City)?

I know, these things are supposed to be complicated. But there comes a time when your gut should overrule your cortex (even presuming that a thinking person can still believe these efforts to be worth the cost), and you should just conclude "This makes no sense. We should get the hell out of there."

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