Opinion Columns & Blogs

John A. House: Barbarians at the gates

After the report last week of 10 medical aid workers being murdered in Afghanistan can anyone doubt the despicable nature of the enemies we face? What could possibly justify the killing of people trying to provide medical care where there is none? The deaths of that international team simply disgusted me and once again served to emphasize the barbaric nature of our enemies in Afghanistan. This event also emphasized the difficulty of winning that war.

These aid workers from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and Afghanistan have been accused of being Christian missionaries and that somehow justifies their deaths. Hogwash. Their purpose was to provide health care, not religious conversion. But even had they been missionaries, murder is simply not justifiable.

Reading this story was like reading something out of a history book. It’s hard to accept that anyone could condone the murder of medical aid workers on religious grounds. The Taliban and their friends, the fanatics of al Qaeda, are simply barbaric. Even if the Taliban did not kill the aid workers, their claiming credit provides further proof of their despicable character.

Acts like this are the reason I get so worked up when I read about people who seem to have forgotten September 11, 2001. The more time passes since that day, the more some people want to act like it never happened and that George Bush invented the war in Afghanistan. I agree he and his key leaders made serious errors in their understanding of the nature of the fight and their execution of operations in Afghanistan, but to think that we can simply walk away and not be bothered by these people is idiotic.

Al Qaeda started this war. The Taliban helped by providing sanctuary. Anyone who supports groups like them is just as bad as they are.

We failed to win this war at the start because we assumed killing some Taliban and al Qaeda thugs and running off the rest to Pakistan was enough. That was stupid and shortsighted. If we walk away now we had better be ready to defend ourselves better than we did before September 2001. It was real clear then that our enemies were prepared to do things that are outside the normal mode of interaction by civilized people. Justifying the murder of these aid workers on religious grounds is an atrocity. The individuals who perpetrated this act cannot be trusted in any manner.

The murder of these aid workers reinforces my belief that we had better win in Afghanistan. That means to me that we have to kill enough Taliban and al Qaeda followers that the Afghan government forces can secure its people from the remainder, or we leave and be prepared to sacrifice some personal liberty in order to be safe. I suppose we could have our same level of personal freedom and accept having another 9/11 experience. If we leave Afghanistan, I believe that will be the course of the current administration. If we do that, I hope all of us are ready to fill body bags with United States citizens. The terrorists will come back. They already are trying. If we give them Afghanistan as a safe haven again, there is no reason to expect them to quit and about 3,000 reasons in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. to expect their return.