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Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Why is the U.S. in Afghanistan?

It's hard to understand why the U.S. should get out of Afghanistan if you don't understand why the U.S. is there in the first place. Last night on the Rachel Maddow Show, NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel stated, to the sound of my jaw dropping, that "the Taliban attacked us on 9/11." Let me repeat that. Not the part about 9/11, the part about Engel being the chief foreign correspondent of NBC and not understanding that it was Al Qaeda who was responsible for the attacks of 9/11.

Let me restate something I first wrote five years ago: the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not the same thing, despite years of U.S. government effort to equate the two in the minds of the American people, an effort which has obviously succeeded in the case of the chief foreign correspondent of NBC.

The Taliban were a fundamentalist religious group which ruled Afghanistan. To what extent they were "aiding" al Qaeda or "shielding" al Qaeda is not really known. What is known is that the United States, instead of indicting Osama bin Laden and demanding his extradition according to international law, simply issued an ultimatum to the Taliban to "turn over" bin Laden, with the assumption that they could even if they would (notice that it hasn't proved possible for the U.S. despite vastly superior firepower, manpower, and mobility to the Taliban government). When the Taliban refused the arrogant, illegal request of the United States, the U.S. invaded and overthrew their government.

Now flash forward to today. The U.S. continues to "hunt Taliban remnants," with absolutely no more legal justification for doing so than they had two years ago.
That last line needs to be revised to say seven years ago. Other than that, it still stands.

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