We Can't Afford to Sink Deeper into the Afghan Quagmire

Seeking alternatives to escalation in the Afghanistan war.

Let's be clear: the war in Afghanistan is not "the good war."  It is not "the right war," as President-elect Obama has called it.  Nor is it really Bush's war, considering how many Congressional representatives (Democrats included) initially supported it and continue to favor the Obama administration's calls for escalation.  And yet it's not quite Obama's war either -- though it could be soon.  Right now it's just our country's war, and as such we need to be able to discuss it frankly and freely -- with open discourse that was absent in the run up to both this war and the one in Iraq.  

I initially felt conflicted when the US waged war in Afghanistan.  When 9/11 happened, I was a senior at Brandeis University, taking a Sociology class with anti-war activist and campus fixture Gordie Fellman, and had just finished reading his book, Rambo and the Dalai Lama.  "Shift Happens," Fellman said on the first day of class, a prescient warning for the weeks ahead as our aggrieved and grieving nation embraced its adversarial impulses with lightning speed, rallying "patriotically" behind President Bush and Congress in near unanimous support for the war.  

At the time I felt at odds with my professor and fellow Fellman followers in class.  As anti-war as I had been until that point, I understood, on a fundamental level, the decision to go to war.  I felt the rush of violence, as well as the collective thirst for revenge, retribution, and justice exacted through military force.  But the last seven years have proven to me just how misplaced that aggression was for us all.

ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.
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