Even in the weeks after 9-11, with all the collective trauma that afflicted the United States, I was not in favor of moving U.S. armed forces into Afghanistan. My thinking at the time went like this: it was not the Afghan people who plotted to destroy the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. It was Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden.
What I favored at the time was an international police brigade that would search out and arrest bin Laden and the Al Qaeda leadership and bring them to justice in the Hague. That may have been easier said than done, but for a few short weeks after 9-11, most of the world was with us – and said so. There might have been the will on someone’s part to turn in the culprit because of the horror he inflicted. (And that could have been encouraged with a non-violent cash incentive).
Moreover, it would have been truly unique to respond to something as horrific as the deaths at Ground Zero with a targeted, largely non-violent response.
It is with those thoughts that I listened to President Obama’s plans for a slow withdrawal of the “surge” troops from Afghanistan over the next year. His plan still leaves more troops in Afghanistan than when he took office. I was disappointed. I had hoped for a swifter withdrawal, and I hope that it can be speeded up, even now.
Peace is tough. But I keep dreaming… what would an “army” look like if it featured a brigade of doctors and nurses, a division of electricians, and a battalion of teachers? All this assumes we are invited in somewhere, but if that was what we had to offer, I suspect we’d get a lot further in fostering good relations with the rest of the world. And it would cost a lot less. Best of all, it smells like the gospel.