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Jul-26-2007 02:55printcomments

Op-Ed: Does Bush Feel Bad About Afghanistan? (VIDEO)

Soldiers in Afghanistan believe they are fighting a 'forgotten war.'

President Bush and Afghan President Karzai
President George W. Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Inset photos by: Tim King

(MORRO BAY, Calif.) - Taliban are Islamic religious extremists who have little to do with traditional Muslim practices. During the Soviet invasion between 1979 and 1989, millions of Afghans fled the bloodthirsty fighting to find refuge in neighboring Pakistan.

When the Unites States military struck Afghanistan shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban were toppled. They drew back to the caves and backlands and mountains to escape detection. We are talking about a nation that has been at war for almost thirty years.

Before the United States and Coalition, the Taliban were in control of the region. They took control away from a more moderate leader who led Afghanistan's fight against the Soviets from 1979 to 1989.

Today's evidence of that invasion includes the thousands of children in Afghanistan that bear Russian features, as rape and "a planting of the national seed" was a key military strategy of the Soviets.

The Soviets were toppled by the Mujahadeen guerilla fighters who wanted to oust communism and religious oppression from their ancient country. They were led by a national hero named Masoud, who graced the covers of national and international magazines during the 1980's.

Massoud: Afghan national hero

Afghans say Massoud knew about the attacks planned against the United States on September 11th 2001. He was killed by a person posing as a television news camera operator.

It is believed that person was a Taliban, and that Massoud was murdered to keep him from blowing the whistle on the upcoming attacks.

A large degree of Afghan hope disappeared after Massoud's murder. His image is seen throughout Afghanistan on billboards and posters.

When the U.S. invasion first began, our country was touting a clear position of victory. George W. Bush and his team had a mission, but from a leadership aspect they failed miserably.

The Coalition soldiers have fought bravely and honorably. As far as most see it, their efforts are not a reflection of Bush policy. The successes that have occurred were under the watch of American and other Coalition military leaders.

Some conditions for women have improved, but that seems like a side note in the motivations of the administration.

As the United States military loses people and the public wrestles with their feelings over the war in Iraq, the Taliban extremists have been granted time to rebuild and recruit thousands of new inductees.

In a war where Haliburton officials are getting filthy rich, soldiers from the Afghanistan National Army, known as the ANA, our allies there, desert in large numbers to join the Taliban. The Taliban pays soldiers more in this dirt poor country.

We attacked Iraq when we should have helped restrain the terrorist breeding grounds in Southern Afghanistan. The Kandahar region a primary example of where the Taliban has maintained a presence.

Kandahar is where the 23 South Korean hostages were recently taken hostage. One of the students was killed today, after an ultimatum for his life ran out.

Other recent abductions included a Danish journalist and two German citizens.

The government in Seoul, South Korea is trying to secure the release of 15 hostages who are women. The 23 hostages are from a Protestant church that had been warned to stay out of Afghanistan.

The Korean Times expressed hope over the success of this negotiation which began on the afternoon of July 19th, when Taliban guerrillas stopped a bus carrying the 23 young Koreans from Kandahar, in the South to the capital Kabul.

They attend the Seoul Community, a protestant church founded in 1998 in a suburb of Seoul. Pastor Park Eun-.jo is the founder. He also held the post of the Korea Foundation for World Aid since 2004, which he created to help poor nations. He says Afghanistan is one of the chosen nations in spite of their own government's warnings.

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is an exclusively Islamic country.

Women rarely live past their 40's

Even after the disbanding of the Taliban in government office, the hard views have continued and while comditions for women improved to some degree, a woman "uncovered" without a burqa is still a rare site in Kabul or many other parts of Afghanistan like Mazur e Sharif.

People in the United States who believe this is a religious war need to understand that the Afghan military forces Americans are rely on the keep them alive are exclusively Muslim.

They represent the truer aspect of Islam and most say the Taliban are misguided religious zealots who have established a pattern of abuse toward women, particularly their own.

Yet most Taliban are not even from Afghanistan, they are from Pakistan. They are the offspring of the people who fled the country during the Soviet invasion years. Soldiers in Afghanistan joke about how poorly managed the Pakistan border is.

There is no limit to the amount of traffic constantly flowing into Afghanistan from Pakistan. These are the people who wage war against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.

For most westerners, this barbaric attitude the Taliban typically display toward women, which bans them from work, education, and showing their faces in public, is unacceptable at best. They were abused and beaten without mercy in the streets during the Taliban years, and it still happens every day.

President Bush had a job to do, and as far as many people in Afghanistan are concerned, the administration has fallen short. As an embeded journalist in Afghanistan last winter, I traveled hundreds of miles with soldiers through what they refer to as "indian country" - hostile regions teeming with Taliban sympathizers in black turbans. The soldiers I was with on one particular mission could not believe that they had to drive a convoy of HUMVEE's to areas that could easily have been reached by helicopter.

But when you are a soldier in Afghanistan, you accept the hardships and you try not to put a lot of thought into air power. When American forces come under attack they are expected to defend themselves and use their ANA forces to help return firepower. The days of Vietnam style air support are rarely seen in Afghanistan's remote regions.

Among the countless obstacles that the U.S. forces face there, are more landmines than in any other country in the world. To capture the elusive Osama Bin Laden, maximum effort would have been required along with large amounts of soldiers and Marines.

U.S. soldier at the Lumberyard gives aid to Afghan kids

Americans are spread thin in the more dangerous regions of the country. I visited bases where just a handful of our soldiers are holding large pieces of ground. One Army specialist at a remote firebase called "Lumberyard" told me that he feels more secure when bullets are coming than otherwise. He lives in a cave made out of old railroad ties.

Now the tide is turning and the weakened forces in Afghanistan are hard pressed to gain ground. This is what happens when a president spreads his soldiers too thin. This is also what the people of Afghanistan fear; that Bush would overextend his forces and quickly bring the axe to public support and ultimately, throw the people of Afghanistan back to the wolves.

So I hope George W. Bush is still able to sleep at night, I know most of us couldn't after the last six nightmarish years that our honorable military forces had to endure. Their future; another deployment, more bullets, more death, more PTSD, fewer friends for a variety of reasons.

The answer was simple at first; we had the opportunity to restore a form of balance in the world. Instead, it has been the Afghan cash cow, a big money game to bring Bush's rich friends more proceeds from the Defense Department.

As this happens, right wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly still assault the American poor, while the biggest welfare swindlers in the world operate out of the White House.

As an advocate for American military forces by past experience, I truly wonder how anyone who supported Bush's madness can sleep at night. It is time for all people to say enough is enough and demand a change in course.

This is a PBS preview about a hospital in Afghanistan. It is filthy, dirty and ineffective, and named after First Lady Laura Bush. Form your own opinion of the progress this nation has been allowed to make in Afghanistan.


Salem-News.com's Tim King is a reporter with almost twenty years of experience in television news. A former U.S. Marine, Tim has pursued military reports throughout his reporting career and spent two months last winter as an embedded reporter and photojournalist in Afghanistan.

See Dispatches from Afghanistan for over 30 of Tim's video reports that also aired on Oregon's KPTV FOX-12. You can email Tim at: tim@salem-news.com




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S.LaMarche; July 28, 2007 6:48 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel Leckel of Roseberg, was killed south of Bagdad. He was 19 and graduated from Glendale High School in 2005. Sleep well g.w.b.,sleep well.


Mary Vincent July 26, 2007 8:00 pm (Pacific time)

There can be no doubt about the situation in Afghanistan. If I were an Afghan woman I would be wearing a burka also. I would realize that someday the foreign armies will be gone and the Afghan people will be on their own again. The world will again cease to see. I am Canadian and we have lost many soldiers in Afghanistan as well. It would be a noble death if anything changed--but thanks to the Bush people's bungling of everything--all these deaths will be for nothing. The terrorists will be stronger than ever and Afghan women will be in more trouble than ever. Does Bush care? If he does he manages to hide it well, doesn't he


S.LaMarche; July 26, 2007 6:05 pm (Pacific time)

Kwisin, Who are you? Why were you in Afghanistan and what were your duties. Don't pull the "non-disclosure" card either.


Tim King July 26, 2007 12:03 pm (Pacific time)

I could post a video clip that I shot in January in Kabul that will show perhaps one out of a hundred women uncovered. This is an interesting piece of government propaganda for sure.

For the record, there is no truth to the comment written by Kwisin. Visitors to this site know what it is like in Kabul; they saw 30 of my reports air in 2006/07. They already know what it is like to drive through Kabul because they saw it through my lens. Women in Afghanistan are treated shamefully and every Afghan male that participates in this behavior is pathetic. When people like this come along, there is always an agenda. The women of Afghanistan are beautiful people who deserve A LOT MORE than what they have.


Sue July 26, 2007 11:28 am (Pacific time)

In answer to headline...No, Bush doesn't feel anything. If he did, he would not be making the policies that he does which are destroying our country as we have known it.


Dale Corvallis July 26, 2007 8:17 am (Pacific time)

I thought this story was wrote by the heart and very well. Kwisin what is your media background and why don't you offer a op-ed in your eyes, or are you an employee of the Statesman Journal.


Henry Ruark July 26, 2007 7:30 am (Pacific time)

Kwisin compares convoying experience to Tim's crucial "embed-with-troops" viewpoint. Sounds like same contractor spin we suffered some time ago from another-such "mercenary". See "BLACKWATER" book for details: ISBN 1-56025-979-4.


LIZ July 26, 2007 7:26 am (Pacific time)

YES, THIS IS ANOTHER VIETNAM WAR. THIS IS GOING NO WHERE. BRING OUR BOYS HOME.OUR BOYS DESERVE BETTER TREATMENT WHEN THEY GET HOME TOO.


S.LaMarche; July 26, 2007 5:46 am (Pacific time)

I couldn't have said it better. Gracias!


Kwisin July 26, 2007 5:37 am (Pacific time)

I just left Kabul two days ago. Most of what this writer states is false (and poorly written). I convoyed through Kabul twice a day and saw many more women without a burka than with one.

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