The United States has been using military force in Afghanistan to punish the Taliban (and, inadvertently, the Afghan people) for 15 years now. And though the Taliban are no longer as powerful as they once were, they haven’t stopped fighting either, as recent events in Kunduz tragically illustrate.
Today U.S. General John F. Campbell went before the Senate Arms Services Committee to explain why U.S. airstrikes struck a hospital in Kunduz and to lobby for keeping about 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan indefinitely to help train the Afghan army and sometimes to directly join the fighting.
Gen. Campbell told the Senators that bombing the hospital was a mistake made by “the U.S. chain of command.” Apart from the fact that deciding to drop bombs on or anywhere near a hospital, no matter where the “enemy” is said to be, is blatantly and egregiously irresponsible, these sort of collateral damage “mistakes” are always the stuff of war. And our ongoing “occupation” of the nation is fueling the Taliban’s will to fight.
Clearly we need a new strategy in Afghanistan that involves peacemaking and negotiation, supporting the Afghan government’s ongoing and difficult attempts at peace talks, along with the necessary economic aid to help the Afghans create a sustainable, peaceable economy.