US Afghan mission threatened by Quran incident

February 27th, 2012

Protests and deadly violence continues to escalate in Afghanistan over last week’s burnings of the Quran at a U.S. military base. Boston University journalism professor Nick Mills is the author of Karzai: The Failing American Intervention and the Struggle for Afghanistan. He offers the following comment on the situation:

“We’ve occupied Afghanistan longer than the Soviet Union did, arguably with no better results.

“An Afghan colleague in Kabul e-mailed yesterday explaining why he had been out of touch: no electricity most of the time. The chronic failure of the electrical ‘grid’ is a symbol of the future of the whole effort. Yes, we have built schools and roads and opened brief windows of educational opportunity for Afghan girls, but I can’t help but feel these gains are transient, and are more than offset by the misery of the prolonged war.

“When I revisited Vietnam in 2003, 34 years after I served there in the Army, I saw almost no trace of the American presence, though we were also there for ten years. We are standing in the way of Afghanistan’s future – training and arming hundreds of thousands of troops and police who serve the corrupt regime in Kabul will only prolong the war, much as the Soviet-built Afghan army stalled the mujaheddin takeover.

“There is no ‘victory’ to be had in Afghanistan. The question then becomes, what’s the least painful way to lose?”

Contact Mills at 617-353-3492; nmills@bu.edu

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