I am/was one of those who, after working like a mad fiend against Bush in 2000 and considering the first 8 months of his Administration to be a sad, almost comedic failure, found myself moved and even somewhat inspired by the Bush-with-the bullhorn moment after 9/11. Shortly afterward, I wrote the first hard-copy letter to a public official I've ever written-it was one of those "Well, we've had our disagreements, but we're all Americans now" kind of letters-to Bush, still riding the wave of inspiration and patriotic fervor, and with a desire to do the small bit of which I am capable. If the situation called for war in Afghanistan, then so be it. Though I thought it was stupid for Bush to say This is a Crusade out loud, I agreed with him, as I thought ridding the world of the transnational terrorist groups would be a service to all humankind. And I know I'm not the only one. Maybe that makes me a sucker-I hope not, though it certainly feels that way in retrospect.
I supported the war in Afghanistan-but I DID NOT support THIS:
I DID NOT support an undermanned and incompetently managed effort that left the warlords in charge, permitted the opium poppy trade to explode, and allowed Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar to escape.
I DID NOT support leaving in place an al-Queda sanctuary across the border in Pakistan, with its coup-installed military President, its Taliban-and-al-Queda sympathetic intelligence service, its illicitly-distributed nuclear technology, and its illegally developed nuclear weapons.
I DID NOT support an effort that left, as Richard Clarke put it,"[fewer] American soldiers in Afghanistan than there are cops in Manhatten."
I DID NOT support an effort that would be used as an excuse to install a secret police and surveillance apparatus inside the US, that could, without warrants, be used against Americans.
I DID NOT support the construction of prison camps for "their" terrorists, while "ours" are released from prison and treated like heroes.
I DID NOT support the creation of a "Unitary Executive", or King, or Emperor, or Dictator.
I DID NOT support the destruction of everything that made the US one of the last artifacts of the Enlightenment.
I DID NOT support the mass arrests and imprisonment of innocent Afghan civilians, the use of torture, rendition, and psyops to terrorize the populace into submission, or the use of airpower to make up for the lack of personnel on the ground, with all of the collateral damage which thus ensued.
I DID NOT support 1-in-4 Afghan children dying before age 5.
I supported an effort that would strictly adhere to the Just War doctrine, with its regard for civilians and other non-combatants. I supported an effort that would remove the Taliban, roll up al-Queda, win the hearts and minds of people by building schools, hospitals, roads, powerplants, sewer systems, and civil institutions that would teach people the value of democracy by responding to their needs. A justice system that would fight crime and respect peoples' rights. A civil order that would treat women as, oh, I don't know, um, PEOPLE. A noble effort that would demonstrate to the world our essential goodness, and show the Afghan people through deeds, not empty words, why it was wise to welcome and support the US.
This is not what we, or the Afghan people, got.
And that is why, now, after all the death, destruction, and disillusionment, I must say this:
I'm sorry. I was wrong. I truly believed I was right at the time-there was not a shred of cynicism or desire to exploit in my being. In spite of that, or maybe perhaps because of that, I was misled-but that does not excuse me. I should have looked more closely, and made sure I wasn't being lied to. People like me are the ones who made it possible for this hell to come to your land.
I was wrong, and I am sorry. I hope one day, peace will come again, and you will find it in your hearts to forgive.
Peace be unto You.