Opinion » Ted Rall

So Much Stupidity

On Afghanistan Dems and Reps are equally dumb


NEW YORK—As I pack for my return trip to Afghanistan next month, many people are asking: Why are we losing?

The short answer is simple: Afghan resistance forces live there. We don't. Sooner or later, U.S. troops will depart. As I have pointed out, no nation has successfully invaded and occupied any other nation since the 19th century. The post-9/11 occupation of Afghanistan—America's longest war ever—has been notably disastrous.

The Afghan War kerfuffle that revealed the boundless stupidity of our political leadership began on July 1. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told GOP donors in Connecticut that the war in Afghanistan could not be won and should never have been fought: "If [President Barack Obama is] such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that's the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right? Because everyone who's tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed," Steele said.

Steele's main point is beyond dispute. There's a reason Afghanistan is known as "the graveyard of empires." Would-be conquerors have failed in Afghanistan for 2,000 years.

"This was a war of Obama's choosing," Steele said.

True, Obama made the Afghan war his own by sending in more troops. But President George W. Bush started this mess. Doesn't Steele remember that? Or does he really think we forgot?

"This is not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in," he continued. This is surely welcome news to the tens of thousands of Afghans killed by tens of thousands of American bombs. Imagine how many more would have died if the U.S. had "actively prosecuted" this fiasco.

Not to be outdone in the moronitude department, Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse retorted that "we are there because we were attacked by terrorists on 9/11."

None of the major figures linked to 9/11—including Osama bin Laden—were in Afghanistan on 9/11. By 9/11 al-Qaida's operations were based entirely in Pakistan. Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11.

None of the Afghans I interviewed in November and December 2001 had even heard of 9/11. None had heard of al-Qaida. Other journalists reported the same thing.

As far as I can tell, we attacked Afghanistan to disrupt Iran and India. To test weapons that would be used against Iraq. And to build an oil and gas pipeline between Central and South Asia. Not because of 9/11.

Woodhouse continued: "It's simply unconscionable that Michael Steele would undermine the morale of our troops when what they need is our support and encouragement. Michael Steele would do well to remember that we are not in Afghanistan by our own choosing, that we were attacked and that his words have consequences."

Dubya--is that you?

Can we even tell which party is which anymore?

: No wonder we're losing. The parties have forgotten what they stand for—and they never learned the history of the countries they invade.