Let me tell you the story of Ahmad Shah Massoud?
Never heard of him? Well, the self-same gentleman has more than a little to do with the likelihood of you getting or keeping decent health insurance, and with the deficits now burdening the country.
Not that he’s put a lot of thought into the matter since agents of Osama Bin Laden blew him to kingdom come on Sept. 9th, 2001.
Massoud and Bin Laden were allies back in the Roaring 80’s when Texas Democrat, Goodtime Charlie Wilson and President Ronald Reagan funneled sack-loads of cash and weapons into Afghanistan.
And wasn’t it sweet music whenever those merry Mujihadeen knocked another commie chopper out of the skies. History, alas, is nothing if not a circle game and now the Mujis are shooting at US soldiers.
It would have been very different if Massoud, aka the Lion of Panjshir, had survived.
Although liberal by Afghani standards Massoud still wasn’t the kind of guy you’d bring down the pub, for being a strict Muslim he didn’t take a pint.
Other that that, he was like most Americans: a god-fearing patriot who detested outside interference in his country’s affairs. He took particular umbrage in 1979 when the Afghan Government invited in the Soviets to protect them from fundamentalists upset by new- fangled ideas - like educating women and immunizing children against disease.
To make a long story short, a lot of differences got shoved under the table during the Jihad against the USSR, but when the Soviets eventually beat a retreat various factions of the Mujihadeen squabbled over turf rights. A disastrous civil war broke out, American supplied Stinger missiles were flying like confetti after the Super Bowl, and the country was destroyed.
Things got so bad that many Afghans welcomed as protectors the fundamentalist religious scholars who constituted the Taliban. Only one individual had enough stature to unite the various ethnic, secular and nationalist forces in opposition to this new radical Islamist movement.
Yeah, you guessed it, Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance. And when Bin Laden, apparently unbeknownst to the Taliban, set in motion the plan to blow up the World Trades, he took care to first nullify his former ally.
A prescient move - for when the US invaded some months later the opposition was so fractured that Bin Laden was allowed to escape across Torah Borah Mountain. He would never have made it in one piece if the Lion of Panjshir had been alive.
All water under the bridge, still one question remains - what happened to Massoud’s Northern Alliance that held off the Taliban for years despite being hopelessly outnumbered?
One would think that they’d be four square behind President Karzai; or could it be that they find his government so outrageously corrupt as to be not worth fighting for?
Rather let the naïve Americans drain their wealth and manpower then pick up the pieces on their way out. After all, there’s a saying in that part of the world, “the dog barks but the caravan continues on its way.”
President Karzai estimates that it will be fifteen years before the Afghan Army can control the country. In which case, we’ll spend the fortune that we no longer have aiding them, and to what end?
Al Qaeda doesn’t need sanctuary among the mud huts of Afghanistan. It has the slums of Karachi, the deserts of Yemen and the beaches of Somalia, along with other havens that we haven’t yet even dreamed of.
Invading other countries is costly, cumbersome and bloody; it achieves little bang for the buck – and let’s face it, would we be happy if a foreign army with different social, religious and political ideals was policing our soil?
Sure, we just whipped the Mujis in Marja; but, as in Iraq’s Battle of Fallujah, the great majority of “bad guys” skedaddled leaving the 10% would-be martyrs to make certain we’re left holding the bill for damage done to homes and civilians. Come Spring, we’ll mark the same dance card in Kandahar, and so it goes…
Bin Laden pulled a masterstroke by assassinating Massoud. Even now he’s basking in the knowledge that we will waste even more years, money and lives in this graveyard of empires 7,000 miles across the globe.
Meanwhile at home, we cannot afford to provide our own people with decent health insurance, our deficits balloon and our infrastructure crumbles - the dog barks but the caravan continues on its way…