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Afghanistan is No One's War: "All Foreigners Are Our Enemy"
A summary of events leading to the invasion of Afghanistan is helpful.
The U.S. either could not or would not produce any evidence, yet it insisted the Taleban was behaving in bad faith and harboring criminals.
To this day, the public has not been given one genuine piece of evidence that ties bin Laden to 9/11. I'm not saying he's innocent, only that there was no proof at the time Bush used him as an excuse to invade Afghanistan.
Bin Laden certainly did not like the United States, but was he in any way responsible for a great crime? How would his apparent happiness with events distinguish him from the group of Israeli spies in the New York area who were photographed, reported to police, and arrested (later being quietly deported) after dancing and shouting atop a truck as the World Trade Center billowed into flames? To this day, the FBI wanted-notice for bin Laden does not mention 9/11.
I am sure that with a real campaign of pressure - diplomatic, legal, and economic - America could have secured bin Laden's extradition. Bush's government didn't really try. Invasion was an attractive option for many reasons. These include satisfying the bellowing, belly-over-the-belt types that are Bush's natural constituency, doing something for Bush's missing leadership credentials, gaining new influence over a nuclear and uncooperative Pakistan, building a long-planned trans-Afghanistan pipeline, and, importantly, preparing the way for an invasion of Iraq, something discussed and advocated for years before in Bush's Neo-con crowd.
Afghanistan is an ancient, backward civilization with an average life expectancy of 45 years. Those who really know a lot about the country tended to say from the beginning that it was unrealistic for the U.S. to expect to make meaningful change there. This interpretation agrees with generally accepted principles of economic development, in particular the principle that social and political changes only come gradually with steady economic growth. One is tempted to say that the U.S. could have brought more genuine, positive change in Afghanistan and Iraq by dropping planeloads of dollar bills rather than bombs.
Although American military destruction in Afghanistan appears to have been less than in Iraq, this largely reflects the fact that there was little infrastructure in Afghanistan to start with, especially when compared with what existed in Iraq, once the Arab world's most advanced country. Still, relative terms are what count here, and destruction in Afghanistan was considerable. Now that the financial costs of the two wars and the instability and risk of the occupations have proved much greater than anticipated, Bush is not able to execute even rushed, poorly-made plans for reconstruction. This is not a formula for long-term success even if you are a Neo-con visionary.