After 6 1/2 years in Iraq, American foreign policy has shifted back toward the quagmire in Afghanistan. With combat entering its ninth year, whatever success we've had in eradicating the Taliban has slowly diminished. When measured by the number of their attacks, the radical "alternative" government is stronger than at any time since American and NATO troops removed them from power in late 2001. American troops and Marines are dying at a faster rate than ever before, and domestic support for the war is diminishing. The national debate on future American involvement in this perpetually volatile country has hit fever pitch. On one hand, if we were to pull out of Afghanistan, there's little questioning that the Taliban would slowly and eventually return to power. On the other hand, American forces have proven themselves to be insensitive and oblivious to the country's mostly tribal culture, and I don't really get the sense that we're a welcome presence there.
In my opinion, the best thing we can do right now is just stay where we are and keep going with our objectives. There's also the question of whether or not a surge in troops would further the cause. President Bush's decision to expand the number of soldiers in Iraq three years ago was a Hail Mary pass that proved to be a secret success. Iraq has made great strides in becoming a self-governing body in the past couple of years, so transferring more American troops from the Arabian Peninsula could negate speculation that we're spreading our armed forces too thin. This is far from a long-term solution --Hamid Karzai and his increasingly docile government should take some blame for the uptick in terrorist activity-- though it would certainly encourage progress. Then again, the Afghani quagmire is more of a police action than a full-blown war; pardon my vagueness, but the clusters of the country that are dominated by the Taliban must be stabilized before the threat spreads even further.
+ I was down at Illinois State University last weekend, and I was shocked by how much the area has changed in the less than two years since I graduated. Bloomington-Normal is an economic boomtown right now --an anomoly in this day and age-- and the construction around town is apparently moving ahead of schedule. Half the buildings in downtown (Uptown?) Normal have since been razed and rebuilt, and I was surprised to discover that the new on-campus fitness center has a skyway that links to the quad. Granted, it nice to see some old classmates again, but everything else felt bewildering.
+ In spite of my moderate success with Fantasy Baseball, my Roto Football team is 2-4 for the season thus far. I don't think I anticipated so many players having all their bye weeks at the exact same time.
+ I've already stopped giving a damn about Balloon Boy. Just so you know.