Ms. Aljawad and Mr. Morosin’s article, “Only Responsible Action in Afghanistan Is to Leave” (Oct. 2, 2009) is an unsubstantiated piece of work. They claim America invaded Afghanistan to “strengthen what is in fact an empire and to render it unchallengeable.”  If there is one place for an empire to go and prosper, it is definitely not Afghanistan.

Furthermore, the authors claim the American presence in Afghanistan is part of a front “to prevent the rise of any new rivals and to gain dominance over energy reserves.”  Now you can make that claim in reference to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but to apply that reasoning to the war in Afghanistan is nothing less than absurd. Afghanistan has one major export: opium. Did we invade this country to control the international heroin trade? All the while, don’t forget the coalition fighting in Afghanistan notably: England, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Australia. Are all these countries part of a grand conspiracy to control the world’s opium? Why did we invade Afghanistan eight years ago, and what would happen if we left now?

In their March 28 issue, the British magazine The Economist wrote “America invaded Afghanistan because its Taliban government let it become the base from which Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda planned their attacks not only on America but on many other places” and “if NATO and America fled before building an Afghan government and army capable of standing on its own feet,” the Taliban could regain power. The right wing tells us keep fighting to honor those who have fallen, while the left wing tells us to end the killing of women and children. However, as Immortal Technique would have rapped, have we reached the “Point of No Return”?

Simply put, there is no good answer. Whether you vouch to stay and fight or pick up and leave there are logical arguments for both sides. However, if the U.S. left now, the Taliban would take back control of Afghanistan and sink it back into the stone age. Women would undoubtedly suffer the most, losing even the hope of living a better life that we fight to represent. Can this hope ever become a reality?

On May 29, 2009, the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan was allocated as battlespace for an influx of 10,000 U.S. Marines. This is symbolic of Obama’s determination to fight this war. Never before has a major marine contingent set foot in Afghanistan. For the previous five years, our military resources have been concentrated primarily in Iraq, which is why the push into Helmand marks a dramatic shift in strategy. But why is Helmand so important?

Helmand is the number one producer of opium, which, in turn, is the number one source of money for the Taliban. While everyone focuses on Kabul and Kandahar, the real war is taking place in the poppy fields of Helmand, where a web of local drug lords and a strong Taliban insurgency face the Marines of Task Force Leatherneck. Success against the Taliban starts with control of the Helmand Province.

There has been little to show for in Afghanistan for eight years of war. However, two years ago Iraq seemed all but lost and descending into civil war. From 2004 to 2006, the Al Anbar Province that housed Falluja and Ar Ramadi was the most dangerous place in Iraq. Today, the two cities are a symbol of peace and progress for all of Iraq. That is proof that years of death and disappointment can turn into success. Can the Helmand Province mirror the results of Al Anbar, Iraq?