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Last night, April 25, 2010 there was a fascinating story by Lesley Stahl of 60 minutes on Islamic extremists and what makes them extremists. A former member of a Muslim extremist group in Britain told Stahl that the narrative used to lure people is that the US and the West invaded Afghanistan and Iraq to destroy Islam; and that this narrative works. In other words, these two wars provided all the fodder for feeding extremism and a fertile ground for such extremism.
I don't know about Bush because he has not evolved from a primate and stated once that God spoke to him to invade Iraq. However Cheney was the main architect of starting these wars and there is no doubt that the motive was oil and money - Cheney put a trance on Bush, using religion as his tool. We know quite well about the oil reserves in Iraq. In the case of Afghanistan it is strategically located for a natural gas pipline from the former neighbouring Soviet states, bringing that gas to the Persian Gulf, exporting to China, the US and other countries to make a lot of money.
We know that the Iraq invasion was justified by some imaginary WMDs. In the case of Afghanistan, the government at the time was willing to negotiate and put Osama Bin Laden on trial and maybe ultimately hand him over. But that was not Cheney's interest as it was about resources. As far as Taliban and women's rights is concerned, that is as big a bull as WMDs. Women are more oppressed today than they were before the invasion and there are a lot more cases of rape, molestation of little girls for sex and especially little boys. These are stories coming from Afghan women themselves including Malalai Joya. Karzai himself is a Taliban or not any different at all, so much for that baloney of Karzai "the reformer".
The problem is that both are badly botched wars and both countries have been destroyed and engulfed in civil wars. You cannot win the hearts and minds of local people in that kind of environment. Afghanistan is an un-winnable war and is a real quagmire and graveyard for empires. As long as these botched up wars continue and looting of local resources continues, these areas will be prime breeding grounds for extremism. The only way out is to end these wars through negotiations or the US will have no choice but to leave in a manner not much different than Vietnam.