Dispirited Resolve
By A.D. Freudenheim

11 November 2001

"Find the cost of freedom / Buried in the ground / Mother Earth will swallow you / Lay your body down."
Find the Cost of Freedom, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

There is a point in most conflicts where one realizes that turning back is no longer an option - the situation is too entrenched - and yet following through with one's plans also seems somehow hopeless. The desired endgame is elusive, yet there is no choice but to continue forward. This sense of "dispirited resolve" may be quite common these days, with nations in varying degrees of denial about the realities they confront during America's new war on terrorism.

Americans may be confused at the moment: as a nation we have suffered an unacceptable and egregious series of attacks which seem to call for a response. Our President has boldly lead us forward into a conflict designed to seek revenge for the attacks and restore our national honor. However, the endgame of our war continues to shift and evolve, from capturing Osama bin Laden, to changing the leadership in Afghanistan, to uprooting global terrorist networks. More to the point, our actual progress - as measured by two of these three goals - appears limited at best. Through our bombing and intelligence efforts the U.S. may yet help topple the Taliban in its official capacity (although we also risk making martyrs of them), but it does not seem as though we have come closer to locating (let alone capturing) bin Laden, or to disrupting the global terrorist networks in any true sense. Many problems remain.

The Afghanis are also probably experiencing this sense of fatigue, emotional and physical alike. They have been engaged in wars of one sort or another for more than twenty years now, and it isn't difficult to imagine that they are just as confused about the desired outcome as are Americans. Afghanistan has about as much experience with peace in its recent history as Americans have with fighting guerilla-style wars in frigid, mountainous, inhospitable places like Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the "Northern Alliance" fighters receive mixed messages from the U.S., along with uneven levels of military support. Now that these fighters have successfully rallied for a deeper military push into Taliban territory, indications from American channels are that they should refrain from making a concerted attack on Kabul and recapturing the capital. As much as Americans support overthrowing the Taliban, we're unsure of the true desirability of that particular outcome; to anyone around for George Bush Sr.'s war on Iraq ten years ago, this will likely sound familiar, since it could mirror the mixed messages we gave to the rebels who wished to overthrow Saddam Hussein - and who were then slaughtered when no U.S. support was forthcoming.

Is it too late for either nation to turn back the clock on this war? What Americans and Afghanis must do is reevaluate their resolve to follow this through, and more clearly set goals by which we can all measure success. There has been much talk about the U.S. reluctance to engage in "nation building," but Americans should ask themselves the hard question that sits so prominently in front of us: what else is there? The only way to restore our national honor is to help the Afghanis restore their own. The loss of life in America and Afghanistan is tragic enough; think of how much worse it will be if all these additional deaths occur for nothing.

Copyright 2001, by A.D. Freudenheim. May not be used in whole or part without written permission. However, you may link to this page as desired! Contact A. D. Freudenheim for further information.
This page is part of: The Truth As I See It.