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The killings come after several copies of the Quran were accidentally burned last month along with garbage and other materials seized from a detainee facility at Bagram Airfield. President Obama apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, calling the burning “an inadvertent error,” but the subsequent furor led to violent protests and physical attacks in which 39 people died, including several American soldiers, and hundreds were wounded.
In January, four American soldiers were caught on videotape standing over some Afghan corpses and urinating on the bodies while laughingly saying things like “Have a great day, buddy.” U.S. officials denounced the actions and made clear it was unacceptable conduct, amounting to a violation of both the Geneva conventions and U.S. military law.
In light of these three high-profile and polarizing incidents in Afghanistan within the last three months, prominent journalist Andrew Sullivan wrote that “after the Koran burnings, I cannot see a future for U.S. forces in (Afghanistan). The pressure to quit before 2014 will grow.” He also said “our cultures are far too far apart to mesh; and the more we insist on succeeding with an unwinnable transition, the deeper into the mire we go.”
Afghanistan is well-known as the “graveyard of empires.” It cast off the imperialist likes of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire, the British Victorian colonial empire and most recently, the Soviet communist empire.
“No outside force has, since the Mongol invasion, ever pacified the entire country (of Afghanistan). … Even Alexander the Great only passed through,” former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrote in October, 2009.
We have spent more than an entire decade trying to win the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan, we should remember the words of a 2009 CATO Institute policy paper which reminded us there is “a reason why (Afghanistan) has been described as the ‘graveyard of empires,’ and unless America scales down its objectives, it risks meeting a similar fate.”