l'Unità, Italy - Original Article (Italian)

Afghanistan: 10 Years Later, What Has Changed?

By Luigi Bonanate, Translated By Mattia L. Nappi

3 October 2011

Edited by Derek Ha

After the 9/11 commemorations, there will inevitably be those who want to memorialize Oct. 7, 2001, the day when, 10 years ago, the wretched and clumsy enterprise pompously named Operation Enduring Freedom brought death and destruction to Afghanistan. It was not just the U.S., but all of NATO, that embarked on an adventure which unfortunately did not reduce but actually increased military deaths in the world. There has not been an inch of advance in the cause of the freedom of a population that today sees the Taliban as its best defenders in the fight to oust the foreigner and Western democracy as a sort of macabre farce. This result is the exact opposite of what, in good faith, we could have wished for.

A daily trickle of casualties hits the occupying troops, who do not know what else to do but take care not to step on a landmine.

The political purpose of the war has totally failed, and everyone except for our government [in Italy] now admits it. The same inference applies to the military aspect because the Afghan population has never greeted Westerners as liberators.

Nevertheless, a specifically Italian dimension must be added. Does it makes sense that a country that is sailing in very muddy financial waters should allow itself to keep about 4,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, when it has already spent more than two billion euros (including 800 million for 2011 alone) for a completely lost cause? Such obstinacy befits far more noble causes. To be a little banal, how many teachers more could we have regularized? How many temporary workers could have gotten a steady job?

International safety may be worth spending and sacrificing for, but it needs to be proved that the effort carried out has served some purpose. Otherwise, we have to state, even if a little bitterly, that this kind of foreign policy does not pay off and does not improve the world; rather, it makes it worse.

In 10 years, we have not improved the quality of life in Afghanistan at all, so why do not we end this adventure that is a total defeat? Obviously, the issue is not only true for Italy: The U.S. has increased its military budget by 80 percent in the last decade, even while their economy has seen no recovery. If all of us had used the money that we melted away in the Afghan operation on education, health care, development and industrialization, we would not have had thousands of Western soldiers dead and more than 100,000 Afghan civilians dead.

In short, why do we continue to stay in Afghanistan wasting lives and money?