The U.S. was never going to win in Afghanistan, a collection of warring tribes

Governmental decision-makers are supposed to learn from history. They are supposed to avoid repeating earlier mistakes.

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President Joe Biden announced this week that the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan will end on Aug. 31.

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Yes, Al Qaeda had operational power and bases in Afghanistan before and after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. And so the United States sent troops into Afghanistan. But this terrorist organization then certainly had opportunities to establish new bases elsewhere from which to launch terror attacks.

Governmental decision-makers are supposed to learn from history. They are supposed to avoid repeating earlier mistakes. Why, then, didn’t the U.S. see that Afghanistan has never been a nation state, but only a loose collection of warring tribes fighting each other within fake boundaries earlier drawn by Europeans?

No amount of American involvement in Afghanistan, with troops or dollars, was ever going to succeed in establishing and maintaining a central government there. As with Vietnam, our government has been entirely too slow in recognizing that we lost this “war” long ago because of local, nationalist forces.

Mary F. Warren, Wheaton

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Every Illinois household must have broadband internet access

Before the Legislature adjourned in Springfield this spring, we passed a bill that could help thousands of low-income Illinois residents connect to the Internet. Senate Bill 2290 creates the Illinois Broadband Adoption Fund to support broadband access across all of Illinois. We’re eager to see Gov. J.B. Pritzker sign the bill quickly and, more importantly, dedicate adequate funding to make sure everyone, regardless of where they live in Illinois, is connected.

Extending broadband access is a bi-partisan issue because it impacts everyone. And it’s a problem we can solve together because of the billions of dollars in funds available from federal and local governments.

According to a study presented last December to the Illinois Broadband Advisory Council, only 70% of Illinois households are active subscribers to an internet service. That number drops to about 63% for Latino households and 58% for African American households. That gap between available service and active subscriptions is a gap we can, and must, close now.

Not surprisingly, internet usage is tied to levels of income, according to research by the Pew Research Center. For some families, ongoing economic hardship means they’re forced to decide between connecting to remote learning, telework and telehealth or paying for rent, food, medicine and other necessities.

This is why we need the Illinois Broadband Adoption Fund. There are already a number of good models for getting the job done. When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, for example, the Chicago Public Schools partnered with the United Way, dozens of community partners and Internet service providers to connect tens of thousands of CPS students across the city.

But school-based programs are limited to families with students — and that leaves a lot of other households with a need for broadband service, but no institutional partner to help.

If we want to emerge from the pandemic stronger and get Illinois’ economy ready for the future, we need to be more connected. We have the chance to do that right now with the Illinois Broadband Adopt Fund, and we urge Gov. Pritzker to sign the bill into law.

State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan and state Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign.

Lawsuits are performance art for Trump

Okay, so now former President Trump is suing Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Never mind that these are private businesses and, as such, have the right to tell anybody to stay off of their “property” for just about any reason and are not subject to the First Amendment. Somebody, please remind me of the last time when Donald Trump won a lawsuit.

Lawsuits are just more performance art for Trump. He thinks that he isn’t getting enough attention and wants to divert attention from the criminal indictment of his company and its chief financial officer, which makes him look bad, so he sues somebody to change the subject.

Recognize what Trump is doing for what it is — and focus instead on important things.

Curt Fredrikson, Mokena

Paul Gosar embarrasses Arizona

Fox News has made a big stink about the Democratic “Squad” — the four women of color in the U.S. House who irritate conservatives to death. Fox likes to imply that they are radicals and unpatriotic, and it uses the culture wars against them.

What Fox never points out is the obvious: Republicans have some crazies in their own ranks. And these are real nut cases, people Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Louie Gohmert and that crackpot from Arizona, Paul Gosar.

I’ll take the Democratic Squad any day over these nut jobs. 

Paul Gosar, in particular, is a fanatic’s fanatic. This is a man who consistently defends the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6. A man who has imbedded himself with white nationalists. A man whose own family, in some cases, have denounced him for what he is, an utter disgrace who has no business being a congressman. 

In the next primary elections in Arizona, Gosar needs a Republican challenger who can beat him. And if that does not work, he needs a strong Democrat challengers.

Send him packing, Arizona. He is a disgrace to your state and the nation. 

Herb Vermaas, Salem, Illinois

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