Well, the not-so-extraordinary revelations from Wikileaks also helped.
I don't think I can be as open-minded about Obama's choice to go hard on the Afghanistan front. I'm starting to wonder if maybe we shouldn't just go home. It isn't passionate debate or reasoned argument that has me over it: it's the blindness of what this cover represents.
For those who can't see the image, the cover depicts an 18-year old victim of the Taliban, who had her ears and nose cut off. She is still quite strikingly pretty, despite her mutilation. The caption reads: "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan?"
This atrocity happened last year. In fact, the small print admits as much. So whether we leave or not apparently doesn't matter--this thing happened while the US was in Afghanistan. Our presence hasn't necessarily changed a lot of what is wrong in this country, and I wonder if it ever could, now. I had been of the opinion that there was just this messed-up Taliban minority that needed to be militarily spanked and then there would be some breathing-room for common sense to take over--but no.
There are still Taliban running things in Afghanistan, and the news that our aid to Pakistan is just getting funneled to our enemies is disgusting--
But how do we stop that? Do we halt aid to Pakistan? And how do we stop the Taliban, when they are still a presence in many villages? And how do we reconcile that over nine years, the original, supposed mission to get Osama bin Laden and destroy all of al-Qaeda is really just gone? A dropped stitch?
I don't pretend I have the answers. What I do start to understand is that if something isn't working, maybe it's because it doesn't work, period, and more of it just isn't more effective. Maybe what aid we do send has to be more targeted to education, diplomacy, and developing industry and infrastructure. Maybe our military presence can't be used to backstop the Afghan military at our own expense, so much as we need them to realize that it's their own country they are watching and have been watching unravel. Maybe the surge in Afghanistan is even less likely to have worked there, than the Iraq surge was all to thank for the decrease in violence in Iraq.
I've just gotten very disillusioned about what is achievable there--because the violence that disfigured Aisha isn't something that war can fix.