Robert Gates explains why we must stay in Afghanistan:
There have been plenty of reasons given for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan: denying Al Qaeda and their allies a sanctuary, saving the locals from some rather ruthless theocrats, preventing another 9/11. To that Defense Secretary [Gates] added a different rationale Monday night. He wants to keep Osama's legions from scoring a propaganda win.I'm sure it would be a propaganda win for Al-Qaeda if we left. On the other hand, it's also a win if we stay. Whatever else AQ may be, they're not idiots, and they're more than happy to stand by and watch us bleed to death from self-inflicted wounds. Hell, they've even said as much.
But like most American officials, Gates seems to have a secret decoder ring that tells him what AQ's utterances really mean. They couldn't want us to occupy Afghanistan, obviously, so we'd better spend whatever it takes to stay there indefinitely...even if our alleged inability to afford a humane healthcare system kills more Americans annually than Osama bin Laden manages in his wettest dreams. The alternative would be to hand a "victory" to Al-Qaeda, and only a really terrible person would consider doing that.
Having AQ around certainly makes governance easier. All you need to do is explain what they want, and not only are you justified in doing the opposite (which coincidentally happens to be what you already intended), but you can also preemptively paint your opponents as people who want to feed the Mujahideen turtle soup with a gold spoon. Nice work if you can get it.
In other news, it looks as though some National Guard members managed to find a portion of Iraq's WMD:
Thirty members of the West Virginia National Guard filed a lawsuit Monday in Marshall County Circuit Court, alleging that they were negligently exposed to a highly toxic chemical as they guarded a rebuilding project in Iraq in 2003.I have it on good authority that Al-Qaeda would love to see KBR Inc. humiliated, so this case really needs to be thrown out ASAP.
The lawsuit contends that members of the Moundsville-based 1092nd Engineer Battalion of the West Virginia National Guard were deployed to the Qarmat Ali water plant near Basra from April to June 2003. The soldiers guarded the facility while KBR Inc. contractors repaired the plant.
"While performing their duties at the Qarmat Ali site, the plaintiffs were exposed to sodium dichromate, a toxic chemical used at the site as an anti-corrosive and containing nearly pure hexavalent chromium, one of the most potent carcinogens and mutagenic substances known to man," the lawsuit states.