The extension of U.S. troops in Afghanistan comes as no surprise, for the Taliban and al-Qaeda have ramped up their terrorist efforts in that war-torn country. The governmental troops have had some recent success, but they are still ill equipped to defend the nation without the assistance of international forces. This position is the stance of the Obama Administration, and it appears to be a righteous one on the surface.

The U.S. military has been in Afghanistan since 2001, and its involvement in actions there makes the war against terror the longest combat endeavor in U.S. history! Part and parcel of the presence of American servicepersons in Afghanistan has been to train indigenous troops to become effective gatekeepers against guerrilla and terrorist insurgencies. For a decade and a half, the United States, Great Britain, and other countries in NATO and in the Mediterranean have been engaged in this confrontation. Why is it that such a long period of time has not fortified Afghan forces to counter rebellion? Why are we given an earful that another year before drawing down troops from Afghanistan will make a difference—especially when nearly fifteen years has not accomplished that goal yet?

We all have heard that doing the same thing over and over again while expecting the same result is a clear definition of insanity. Espionage, drone attacks, military presence, economic sanctions, and a variety of threats have not been able significantly to reduce the reign of terror in the world. Why are we determined to persist in failed foreign policies? Despite the fact the United States has not been attacked on its own soil does not mean that the world, including our country, is a safer place. Evidently, it is not.

Human beings make mistakes, and many of those mistakes are serious. Whereas mistakes are often transcendable and forgivable, and we understand and appreciate that fact, we must also dispose ourselves toward comprehending the necessity of the interplay of theory and practice and apprehending the lessons from our intermittent faux pas. In other words, George Santayana told us a long time ago that “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

One thing we need to do at this time is to find creative ways to engage in diplomatic efforts with our opponents. After all, in this game of life, we are all culpable, imperfect, and self-serving. Surely, it would be in our selfish interests to make the world a safer place in which to live and to help others outside this nation to become fuller participants in the world. This position does not originate from naiveté. However, as long as we maintain an us versus them posture, we will not be capable of contributing to reducing violence around the globe. In addition, we have to own up to our own imperialistic methods that have perpetuated our economic stance in the world and perpetrated material dependency ubiquitously.

Yes, it means re-envisioning our character upon the global stage and how to make international relations a more harmonious process. The emergence of this new stance is something that will take a lot of reconfiguration and a more reasonable self-concept. American exceptionalism must be abandoned as the supercilious tomfoolery it always was, and a willingness to work cooperatively for the development of a synergistic global village must come to fruition.

This new vision of the United States can only happen through the coming together of like-minded individuals, the inculcation of others to this way of thinking, and holistic organization that focuses on massive, unrelenting constructive criticism of our government and its structures, processes, policies, and services. This proactive advocacy for a different worldview will take indefatigable work for a long period of time.

About mdbwell

Pres., Project for the Beloved Community, Inc.; B.A.--Wesleyan University; M.Div.--Yale University; Ph.D.--Boston University; Summer Study--Harvard University; Social ethicist; Ordained minister; Advocate for the poor
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