Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The American War and Afghanistan’s Civilians

Middle East Online, Sep 13, 2010

As the US war and occupation drags on without serious debate about withdrawal on the Washington agenda, questions need to be asked about the fate of Afghan civilians. Chief among them: How many more years of ‘progress’ can they endure, and if the US stays, how much more ‘success’ can they stand? Asks Nick Turse.

How Much “Success” Can Afghans Stand?

With the arrival of General David Petraeus as Afghan War commander, there has been ever more talk about the meaning of “success” in Afghanistan. At the end of July, USA Today ran an article titled, “In Afghanistan, Success Measured a Step at a Time.” Days later, Stephen Biddle, a Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, held a conference call with the media to speak about “Defining Success in Afghanistan.” A mid-August editorial in the Washington Post was titled: “Making the Case for Success in Afghanistan.” And earlier this month, an Associated Press article appeared under the headline, “Petraeus Talks Up Success in Afghan War.”

Unlike victory, success turns out to be a slippery term. As the United States approaches the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, pundits have been chewing over just what “success” in Afghanistan might mean for Washington. What success might mean for ordinary Afghans hasn’t, however, been a major topic of conversation, even though US officials have regularly promised them far better lives and trumpeted American efforts to reconstruct that war-torn land.

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