On October 7th, just a few days back, the United States marked the ninth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. Just weeks after the attacks of 9-11, the US began dropping bombs in Afghanistan, and in a wink, the US and its allies, which included the Northern Alliance, had driven Al Qaeda and the Taliban out of power. The invasion was launched as retaliation for the earlier attacks, and with the assumption that it was needed to remove the strategic foundation for Al Qaeda. But, while the Taliban was driven from power, the country was never secured, and before long we were involved in another war in Iraq. The latter is winding down, but the war in Afghanistan continues unabated.
Now, at the time I didn't think that this invasion was warranted, but I understood the rationale. The invasion of Iraq made no sense, but now nine years later, where are we? What have we accomplished? The years of focus on Iraq has meant that the Afghanistan war is nowhere close to a conclusion. Besides history demonstrates that no invading force has held it for long -- not Alexander, not the British, and surely not the Soviets. What makes us think things would be different this time?
But, ultimately my point isn't to debate the reasons for the invasion or even the current battle plans. It is simply to remember that it has been nine years. Back then I was pastor of the church in Santa Barbara. I'm in my second pastorate since then. My son, who was in elementary school then is now in college. So, maybe the question is -- what is it we're up to?
And as I ask the question I'm reminded of the tenor of the conversation in today's bible lecture by Ron Allen -- we talked about the new age breaking in on the old one. The old age, which is full of violence has dug in its heels, but the new age is with us anyway. The question then that is posed to me concerns the way in which I will participate with God in bringing the new age, the new realm of God into fruition? And, how that impacts the way I look at Afghanistan and other places of American military involvement?