That’s the number of American soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since the inception of the war. The New York Times has an excellent infographic that breaks down the numbers further by branch, province, age, and so forth.
Most telling, in my view, is the graph which demonstrates that the most violent years come after 2008, when we of course saw a policy shift from the Obama administration away from Iraq and focused on “winning” the war in the Afghanistan. As you can see from the graph, the 2009 troop surge was consonant with the heaviest period of American casualties in the history of our involvement in Afghanistan:
More at the link.
After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, the US had no incentive to be involved there anymore (remember we used this war as a proxy war against the USSR). So we turned our influence/power in the region over to the Pakistani intelligence agency (the ISI), and left the Mujahideen groups to split and war between themselves.
The ISI found this power vacuum rather… convenient. They became buddies with the Taliban and its warlords (for trade route purposes), and helped them during the Afghan Civil War. With the aid of the ISI (and financial aid from Saudi Arabia), the Taliban took over most of the country by 1996.
The new Taliban regime initially rejected bin Laden’s al-Qaeda (after both Sudan and Saudi Arabia had banished them), but eventually warmed up to the thought of being their friend. When they inevitably became allies, the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to have shelter within their borders, and integrated the terroristic organization into their military.
At this point, the Taliban assigned al-Qaeda to train 055 Brigade, which was a strong part of the Taliban’s military (made up mostly of Soviet-Afghan war geurilla veterans). This brigade was in fact used for al-Qaeda’s terrorist activities (such as the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy).
Needless to say, they were really good friends. Al-Qaeda was practically a dependent arm of the Taliban regime. Pakistan only ever set up this alliance, albeit they remained friendly with both organizations from the 1980’s. But Pakistan only supported al-Qaeda after the 2001-present phase of the War in Afghanistan commenced.
Invading the Taliban was the correct choice, not Pakistan (as good-gollymissmolly would suggest).
Though to be fair, the entire conflict was initially our fault in a multitude of ways:
- 1) The Cold War was an avoidable conflict, easily remediable by swift action immediately following World War II.
- 2) We (our CIA) funded and supplied the Afghans in the Soviet-Afghan war through the ISI, thus creating weakened regimes, allowing for the power vacuum that inevitably assisted the Taliban just so we could say “HA!” to the Soviets.
- 3) The Taliban and al-Qaeda were/are also mainly composed of soldiers that we helped; Osama bin Laden was among these soldiers (under the alias of Tim Osman).
- 4) We continually involved ourselves elsewhere in the Middle-East (like in Kuwait or in the Iraq-Iran affair), escalating situations that in turn entangled the regimes all over the Arabian Peninsula, disturbing alliances/conflicts further.
Still, overthrowing the Taliban was necessary after they refused to hand over al-Qaeda following the September 11 attacks (even though the conflicts that 9/11 was contingent upon were our fault). Attacks on our soil should never go unchecked.
And I do respect their belief and their willingness to fight for it.
However, the fact of the matter is that American soldiers have not HAD to die for our freedom since World War II. And it’s disgusting that the government’s propaganda is able to convince millions of men and women that they have to.
Now now, that’s not true (referring to the part I bolded).
Our invasion of Afghanistan was warranted. Yes, in retrospect, it was a self-inflicted conflict. But we were still attacked, and we can’t let attacks on our soil go unchallenged. It’s good that we chased bin Laden to the ends of the Earth like we did.
Though you know me, I obviously agree with you for the most part. Korea, Vietnam, our involvements in Israel’s battles, Kuwait, Iraq, funding the Mujahideen and Saddam Hussein, etc. all were not necessary and were unwarranted. But I stand by the belief that the War in Afghanistan was a somewhat proper course of action (I say “somewhat” because it’s evident that we’ve been there longer than the circumstances necessitated).
People seem to be making a large deal over this case. And I agree, this is an atrocity. What I don’t understand is this: why is this singular event notable?
How is this really any different than what we’ve been doing since, oh I don’t know, the beginning of the 20th century? We invaded countries because we wanted to believe we were helping. Since the 1950’s we’ve been murdering the civilians of the Middle-East. We incited the Taliban revolution in the 90’s (thus creating the Taliban regime) and built terrorist organizations. We’ve dropped bombs carelessly and have defaced the people and culture of far too many countries.
So why is this an extreme case? I’ve never posted much about what disturbing events take place, on our behalf, in the Middle-East because it’s nothing new. Frankly, we need to focus on the larger picture here: the United States foreign policy as a whole. I’m not sure what favors we are doing ourselves by aggravating the Taliban. If you think we are, then you’re just kidding yourself.
If you need refreshers on why Invisible Children is the wrong organization to choose, refer to the real history about the region, who IC associates with, what the consequences of military intervention would be, and its overall poor ratings from multiple accountability-agencies. Don’t be misled by the video.
The following charities do not have the goal of becoming a belligerent in war nor lobby for acts of war; their primary focus is sending direct and peaceful aid to people in places of crises. They also have no questionable ratings or financial conditions. I donated to one last night with good conscience, because I know my money won’t be going toward trying to perpetuate a war.
1. First we have Africare, an organization founded in 1970 that has assisted more impoverished people in Africa than any other U.S.-based charity. Notice that Charity Navigator ranks it with a solid 4-stars across the board; this rating is accompanied by a positive review from the Better Business Bureau.
2. Save the Children - Uganda. Charity Navigator ranks it with, again, 4-stars across the board. And the Better Business Bureau gives it a very good review. This charity, started in 1932, evidently uses most of its revenues (unlike Invisible Children) in fighting poverty all over the globe; not only this, but the amount of revenue it receives is substantial.
3. Children of the Nation International was founded in 1995 and has reached over 26,000 people with its very limited source of income. My understanding of this organization is that it is more "spiritual" (just in case any of you are looking for that in a charity). Charity Navigator gives another 4 stars to CotNI, and the Better Business Bureau report is very positive as well. The only flaws that the BBB sees is an uncompensated board (doesn’t that just mean more money for the cause?) and an un-thorough self-assessment.
4. African Medical and Research Foundation - founded in 1957, this charity focuses primarily on the health of people all over Africa rather than crisis-related aid. AMREF USA receives 4-stars from Charity Navigator and the "thumbs up" from the Better Business Bureau.
5. Water.org has been persistent in its efforts to send help to people without water in Africa. The Better Business Bureau rates it just as well as Charity Navigator does, and definitely deserves the positive feedback. It should be noted that even with the substantial decrease of revenues in 2010, it did not cut back on its expenses for its mission.
And these are just five out of however many charities solely helping the people. Just do a quick Google search of any other charities helping Uganda (or all of Africa - remember that Uganda is not the only place ripped apart by war) if none of these satisfy your standards. Any of these choices would be better than helping commit ourselves to war and making the conflicts of a region worse.
I mean, refuting this again would be beating a dead horse. In fact, by now, the EMTs came, revived the horse, nursed it back to health, and then beat it to death again. It’s still astounding to me how, with the overwhelming evidence that Invisible Children is fiscally irresponsible, that people can still support it. And if they don’t care about that, what about its lies? And its hypocrisy. And it perpetuating war.
Nothing happening with this Kony 2012 campaign is doing any good. I think proving the point time and time again has just exhausted me. Really, these people have been emotionally assaulted by the videos, pushed into a corner, and are arguing solely on the basis that "we need to help those people!"
Someone here said it pretty well: Doing something isn’t always as good as doing nothing. In fact, it’s worse. These people just will not accept the harsh realities of history, blowback, and the real consequences of further intervention.
Well, the first thing we need to realize is that the situation in Central Africa is not restricted to Uganda. In fact, the LRA is relatively inactive in Uganda now. The main affected areas are Sudan and the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). The war being waged right now, between the LRA, the SPLA, the Sudanese government, the Ugandan government, and the DRC is chiefly over cultural differences; the main focus here is the strain between the Acholi/Langi people and the rest of Central Africa (in reality).
History teaches the best lessons:
What must be learned is how this war came to be. How did the belligerents come into existence and where did they get their resources from? That’s always important to ask. Well, it’s simple really. There was a tug-of-war at Uganda’s initial independence from Britain. First, Milton Obote took over (after leading Uganda to independence); he was Acholi. Then, Qaddafi, receiving aid from a U.S. propped-up Egypt sent aid to Amin to take over. Well, he did. He was then overthrown in the late 70’s by an Acholi-dominated military. The regime established was ruled by, again, Obote. Later, Tito Okello would take Obote’s seat.
Well, the National Resistance Army wanted to overthrow the Acholi government in the mid-80’s. This Army was backed by Qaddafi. Again. After they took over, they instated Museveni as their President. He is still in office today, and is commonly regarded as a dictator. He doesn’t like the Acholi people too much, and they don’t like him.
Enter the Lord’s Resistance Army, a.k.a. Kony’s Army. They view themselves as, still, the rebels. They want to overthrow the current dictatorship and replace it with another dictatorship. Though, they would be no where without the help of the Sudanese government. Sudan funnels money into the LRA. Where does Sudan get their money? I’ll say it again: Sudan gets billions per year from the U.S. We are inadvertently strengthening the LRA.
Sudan does this because, well, they’re in a bit of a civil war as well. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army opposes the current Sudanese government. So how does Sudan want to combat that? By fueling the LRA to help them in the fight against their rebellion. There’s a very similar situation in the DRC. Invisible Children exploits these differences by redirecting the focus of the SPLA to the LRA.
So the turmoil is in all of Central Africa. Invisible Children has perpetuated the problem in a few ways: (i) they called for a ceasefire. Such a ceasefire was achieved in 2006. All that Kony did with this was shift his armies around and build up his forces. Good progress for him. (ii) they lobbied to Obama to take action and send 100 elite military-men to train the Ugandan Army and the SPLA. He did so in October of 2011. This really only enraged the LRA and Kony. (iii) they’ve pulled other factions into war.
That’s just the brief history.
What must be taken from the history:
If you notice, the current conflict stems from British colonization and U.S. Middle-Eastern intervention. U.S. intervention and foreign aid gave fuel to these armies, while British intervention caused cultural disputes in the first place. So we know that intervention is bad, okay.
Stop propping up dictators. Stop sending foreign aid to these countries that go on their own conquests. Invisible Children is helping a dictator as is. And the SPLA and Ugandan Army are guilty of the same war crimes as the LRA. These consist of rape, looting, and recruitment of child soldiers.
So… Invisible Children helps a dictator, and uses evil armies to fight other evil armies in a civil war that was created by intervention. And their solution is more intervention. No. Not going to fly.
Stop the funding and you stop the wars. Really, all our intervention would do is bring more people into the war, destroy what little infrastructure these places have, displace more people, leave us at higher risk for attack, bankrupt us more, kill more people, and perpetuate the never-ending problems the region is in.
And this is what I hated about the video so much.
Yes, please, let’s take the complex socioeconomic history of central Africa and explain it to the viewers as if they’re five-year-olds. Ignore the history of Britian’s colonization, Uganda’s independence, its current dictatorship, the army of Uganda itself, the army of Sudan People’s Liberation army, the involvement of Libya and Egypt, the history of the Acholi people, and UN involvement. Then let’s also ignore the deplorable rating that the Invisible Children organization has received from international institutions.
The video pandered to emotions. You were bombarded with a simplistic “good guys vs. bad guys” message when it’s anything but that. It makes you want to cry with emotional songs and little video clips. Reality is much different. War is not peace and it never has been and never will be; ignoring the realities of the consequences of military intervention will help no one.
Hurts themselves by suggesting the U.S. military should train the Ugandan and Sudanese forces. This is chiefly because these same armies have been raping and looting! Invisible Children defends them because they are well-armed, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are also guilty of war crimes.
The only hope for the Kony 2012 movement is to suggest that the United States intervene itself and find Kony (who isn’t even in Uganda anymore). This of course entails a full-out war, which I’ve already made the argument against. Well, the argument is against all intervention. Intervention has only gotten us into a deeper ditch. Seeing the solution as digging down deeper is foolish. You won’t come out the other side of the Earth, you’ll kill yourself before you even reach halfway to the center.
Invisible Children supports the dictatorship of Uganda. It therefore supports its military. Hey, did you know the Ugandan military also recruits kids in their fight? It also works with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Did you know they rape, loot, and recruit kids?
In fact, the reason that the LRA receives funding from the Sudanese government is because the SPLA exists. The SPLA is a rebel group fighting against the government of Sudan. So of course Sudan funds the LRA to fight its common enemy. By the way, Sudan receives funding from us every year.
Now let’s talk about the fact that Invisible Children has been caught lying in their videos. How about the way that Invisible Children is trying to drag another war into America’s scope using these video techniques? Or it’s offensive oversimplification of Central Africa’s strained history since its colonization by Britain! It’s a good thing that the knowledge of IC’s poor ratings are available to the public.