Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Irony that is Afghanistan

Original caption: An Anti-Taliban Forces (ATF)...     Image via Wikiped
"Soldiers try to talk to villagers. They try to build this trust, but it it isn’t really working. The Afghans know that we will eventually pull out and they will be left to deal with the Taliban, who will chop off the hands of those that collaborated. And that’s why they are so afraid, even though they may not necessarily be happy about Americans being there in the first place. They know that it is only going to be some temporary measure, and that we are not going to stay there long enough to defeat the Taliban to the point that they will not come back.

It shows in every face, and every look that I encountered from Afghans. And of course soldiers see that. They pretty much follow their orders, but I have a feeling that they are lost, in a way."

These words by photographer Dima Gavrysh speak to the tragic irony we face in Afghanistan.  We have been their nine long years but those years have nearly exhausted support for the war at home while gaining us little trust among the people of Afghanistan.  President Obama has re-focused and intensified our efforts in a serious way, but there is now too little time for our efforts to meet with the success they might have almost a decade ago.  Our efforts are haunted, so to speak, by the ghosts of a forgotten war. 

There is a double irony, however, in that the photographer focuses on our troops, but the goal of our troops is to handover responsibility to Afghani soldiers. The outcome of the war, finally, is in their hands.