Monday, April 9, 2012

US in Afghanistan?

Recently I read Joe Klein's article in the Time magazine regarding the length of US mission in Afghanistan and its impact on the troops. According to the article there are many veterans who are looking for clarity for the current mission in Afghanistan. Being a veteran's wife, I too find myself in midst of those conversations and truly there no satisfying answers for having 89,000 (figure from February 2012) soldiers on ground, especially after the killing of Osama Bin Laden. 


No war is ever good, even if it is fought in the name of peace. However, I recognize that in complex state of affairs in Afghanistan, merely peaceful negotiations and restoration activities may not present a comprehensive answer and other military and political tactics might be needed for a long-term solution. I wonder if we can re-evaluate our mission, strategies and resources required to carry them out. Seriously, putting 89,000 precious lives in harms way does not sound like the most appropriate strategy in the current circumstances. 



For more than a decade, priceless lives and billions of dollars (in the times of recession)  are lost. There are long term mental health and psychosocial issues for combatants, local civilians and the families of the combatants (NATO personnel as well as the insurgents). Other impacts include destruction of already scarce infrastructure in the Afghanistan and further deterioration  in relationship with Pakistan. Last but not the least, time is the most important resource that is being lost everyday that there is no resolution to the situation. 

From the humanitarian point of view, I thought that maybe US presence is needed there to avert human rights violations in the country, especially after Time magazine's cover (July 2010), which illustrated the plight of a Afghan woman. But this Sunday's newspapers were full of worrying statistics pertaining to violence against women, children and elderly right here in Puerto Rico. And then I did a quick research for violance against women in the US and I found some more concerning numbers there as well. Here are some facts in the US and Puerto Rico:
  • Three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day in America, on average. (http://www.nnedv.org/docs/Stats/NNEDV_DVSA_factsheet2010.pdf)
  • Approximately 2.3 million people each year in the United States are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. Women who were physically assaulted by an intimate partner averaged 6.9 physical assaults per year by the same partner. (http://www.nnedv.org/docs/Stats/NNEDV_DVSA_factsheet2010.pdf)
  • 27, 934 Domestic violence cases against women in Puerto Rico in 2012. {Maricarmen Rivera Sanchez, (April 8th, 2012), El Vocero, San Juan Puerto Rico}
  • 26 women have been killed as a result of domestic voilence in 2012. {Maricarmen Rivera Sanchez, (April 8th, 2012), El Vocero, San Juan Puerto Rico}
  • 30,000 cases of child abuse and elderly abuse in Puerto Rico {Gloria Ruiz Kuilan, (April 8th, 2012) El Nuevo Dia, San Juan, Puerto Rico}. 
  • More info on Human Rights issues in the US: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/americas/usa
Let me join thousands of Americans who have been advocating for the best way forward, which is to bring back the troops and focus on improving the situation back at home, financially and socially. Let Afghans be the leaders in designing their future. They have survived for generations and they will continue to evolve as a society in their own style and their own pace.


Organizations such as US Institute of Peace, Washington DC are exploring ways of resolve the situation in Afghanistan in ways that will protect lives, improve diplomatic relations and will probably be more economical.  For example, tomorrow, on April 10, USIP will host an event called Prospects for Peace in Afghanistan. One can also watch the live webcast tomorrow at 10:00 am EST at www.usip.org/webcast



It does not matter which side wins the war in the end, it is the civilians involved and the families of the combatants who lose. Conflicts are and will remain part of the ever-dynamic global society but ways of conflict resolution must be modified in the age of nuclear weapons to prevent irreversible damages. It is time for the US to lead the world towards creative problem solving through diplomacy and dialoguing. 


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