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Q: Eight years after the U.S. attacked Afghanistan, fighting continues. Religious extremists in the Taliban and al-Qaeda retain significant power there. What is our moral responsibility to the people of Afghanistan? If religion is part of the problem there, how can it be part of the solution?
Scratch any conflict the world over and you will find religion in the mix. Every religion tends to believe that it alone worships the true God, that it alone possesses the true faith and that it alone controls the access to God – “No one comes to the Father” but by my religious tradition. As long as religion has these components it will be part of the problem, never part of the solution. One would think that there would be in the human heart a sense of wonder and mystery at the presence of the holy instead of this arrogance of certainty that seems to be religion’s primary mark.
Afghanistan may well not be a winnable war. It has absorbed many invasions and always outlasts the invader. The national interest of the United States is to place under pressure those who would destroy the United States. It is not to conquer and subdue the people of Afghanistan. Can one be accomplished without the other? Only if there is a clear purpose, a clear focus, a clear goal and a clear exit policy. If that exists it has not been communicated to the American people.