The total complement of US and NATO boots on the ground in Afghanistan is far less than the old Soviet Union had in this country (around 500,000 people, give or take) , only to have to leave, humiliated, with its tail between its legs.
Even with hired mercenaries, we still will not have enough boots on the ground to successfully occupy Afghanistan.
The US indiscriminate bombing of civilians has caused Afghans to see the Taliban as the good guys, and US and NATO forces as the bad guys.
The rank corruption of the Karzai government, coupled with our indiscriminate bombings of civilians, leaves many Afghans to believe that their lives cannot possibly get better better under the current circumstances.
And the alleged "reconstruction effort" ?!? In the words of Tony Soprano, "Fuggetaboutit!" What has been done (if it has actually been done at all) has been substandard, and awarded to many of the "usual suspects" who have underperformed and overcharged We the People for their services.
As reported in:
"A report issued in June 2005 by the non-profit organization Action Aid reveals that much of the US tax money earmarked to rebuild Afghanistan actually ends up going no further than the pockets of wealthy US corporations. “Phantom aid” that never shows up in the recipient country is a scam in which paychecks for overpriced, and often incompetent, American “experts” under contract to USAID go directly from the Agency to American bank accounts. Additionally, 70 percent of the aid that does make it to a recipient country is carefully “tied” to the donor nation, requiring that the recipient use the donated money to buy products and services from the donor country, often at drastically inflated prices. The US far outstrips other nations in these schemes, as Action Aid calculates that 86 cents of every dollar of American aid is phantom."
86 cents out of every dollar - chew on that for a moment.
Unless and until the aid actually gets to where it's supposed to go, with quality reconstruction projects providing money and training for Afghans, establish and protecting infrastructure (schools, hospitals, roads, water systems, etc.), nothing can change here.
So we have several choices here:
1. Declare "victory", and leave.
2. Stop the bombings, start reconstruction programs with real accountability, put Karzai on a short leash (he is, after all, our "cur" of a dictator), and give the Afghan people some hope for their future. With all the misery and devastation the US has caused, we owe this to the Afghan people.
3. Kill every single Afghan still breathing.
Shocked about that last one?? You shouldn't be.
There are some people in the military and congress (particularly those in congress who are "acquisitions" of the oil companies) would would absolutely prefer the third option in order to get the pipelines finally installed, with little or no opposition from the Afghan people.
Let us hope that we have some adults in the room in the Pentagon, Congress, and the White House who do understand what that second option would really cost this country, and the world.