Gene Healy on Afghanistan: “We should declare victory, and come home.”

At The Washington Examiner, Gene Healy makes the case for declaring victory in Afghanistan and bringing the troops home:

We now have nearly 100,000 troops in-country chasing what President Obama's CIA director admits are "50 to 100" al Qaeda operatives, "maybe less."

Is bin Laden's death "merely symbolic"? Perhaps, but "merely" ignores the importance of symbols in a fight that has a large ideological component. And the symbolism involved in giving the one-time iconic figure a thug's death allows us to put an end to an era of tragically wrongheaded strategy. We should declare victory, and come home.

We certainly don't need to continue funding what George Will has called "New Deal 2.0" in Afghanistan, complete with agricultural subsidies to discourage opium growing, a 900,000-square-foot police training center for the country's illiterate and corrupt security forces, and USAID-sponsored pro-democracy "kite festivals."

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  • Tim||

    This is a golden opportunity to get out. Of course we'll blow it.

  • Brett L||

    Couldn't agree more. GTFO.

  • steve||

    GTFO and legalize heroin, then watch the bottom really drop out from under them.

  • ||

    I agree.

    "Well, we came here to kill OBL. Now he's dead. Took us a little longer than we thought, but while we were here we thought we'd try to civilize the place. Its all yours now, primitive barbarians. Try not to piss us off again. See ya!"

  • Tim||

    One caveat:
    We're giving greencards to all your women. Afghanistan has a gay future.

  • ||

    Gay FUTURE? Based on that discovered cache of Taliban photos, it seems like the gay part is present tense. It seems like their culture is about as close to a homo-normative one as there is on the planet.

  • Michael||


    Well, since most of the illiterate afghanis thought we were over there to steal their women anyway (& their rubies... & their dope)... might as well confirm their pre-existing beliefs.

    Plus, some afghan women are pretty hot

  • ||

    National Geographic looked this chick up after a few years. She didn't age well.


    I saw what you're talking about.

    It was like that 'good from far... far from good' effect you get from seeing a cute ass from a slight distance... then catching up and being like, '....aaaaaAAAAAArrrrhhhhhhhhggg !' cause she's a 70yr old sunburnt old trailer-trash skank chain-smoking Capri 200s, dressed like a teenybopper.

    If you spend time in places like the Gulf Coast, this happens more than you think.

  • ||

    Is that what Jawas look like with the hoods pulled back? If I were Luke, I'd have stayed on Tatooine.

  • Rob||

    I imagine that if/when she smiles, she only has like 4 teeth. And they look like indian corn.

  • sasob||

    I agree also - time to get out of there and bring the troops home. And nix on the nation-building bs. We fairly well broke the Taliban's hold there once, and if it is to stay broken, the Afghan people will have to take care of it themselves.

  • ||

    We should stay in Afghanistan as long as possible. After all, look how well it worked out for the Soviet Union. Afghanistan helped contribute to the break up of the state, and an end to central planning, resulting in the dissolution of the USSR into multiple republics.

    Considering the way things are going, does that really sound so bad?

  • sasob||

    Considering the way things have been going in what was once the Soviet Union, it doesn't sound so good either.

  • In Time of War||

    Hell no. I say we bulldoze it flat, pave it and slap up Walmarts. This is a perfect shovel-ready project and we've got people standing around idle.

  • ||

    """"Well, we came here to kill OBL."""

    And we stayed for the nation building.

  • ||

    Self plagiarism disclaimer: I originally posted this in the comments on another article, but it looks like discussion there has died out, and I wanted to put this out for comments.

    Obama has a real opportunity here. His poll numbers will obviously get a major short term boost simply from the euphoria the nation is currently experiencing. Unfortunately for our Commander in Chief, that euphoria will soon wear off; just look at W's poll numbers a year after Saddam's capture.

    The opportunity that Obama has here is to pull out of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Claim victory: "We did what we came here to do, and we're going home."

    Obama ran as the anti-war candidate, but has done absolutely nothing to make good on his rhetoric. His voter base is deeply dissatisfied with his inaction, but the idea of pulling out and admitting defeat has been too politically radioactive to contemplate. Right now, for a short time at least, Obama is bulletproof to accusations of being weak on security or weak on terror (I'm not saying this makes sense, I'm just saying it's a political reality).

    The president has a unique opportunity right now to get out of our two wars. The left would embrace Obama for finally coming through on his promises, and even people typically animated by "boot up your ass" patriotism would love him for kicking ass and bringing our troops home victorious. Stage a good old fashioned Roman Triumphal March through the streets of the Capitol.

    The world would love him for showing that America is not in fact driven by an imperialist mandate to destroy Muslim nations.

    Going home after getting our man would quickly marginalize Al Qaeda's recruiting drives. They would no longer be able to claim that we are out to destroy all Muslims.

    There won't be another singular moment of accomplishment like this. If we don't make a solid commitment to bring our troops home right now, it won't happen in the foreseeable future. This is our one opportunity to declare victory in the war on terror and bring it to an end.

    I might even vote for the guy if he can seize this chance and do the right thing. It would go a long way toward atoning for every other thing he's done since taking office. It would restore the Hope of a lot of people in the Change they were promised. Hell, one could even argue that he would retroactively deserve his Nobel Peace Prize.

    I'm not holding my breath.

  • Brett L||

    "Hell, one could even argue that he would retroactively deserve his Nobel Peace Prize."

    Not unless he quits bombing Libya, negotiates some sort of rapproachment with Iran and successfully navigates the reunification of Korea after Dear Leader's death. As well as a full drawdown from Iraq and Afghanistan. Then, I might be okay with that statement.

  • .||

    Obama has a real opportunity here. His poll numbers will obviously get a major short term boost simply from the euphoria the nation is currently experiencing. Unfortunately for our Commander in Chief, that euphoria will soon wear off;

    What in hell is unfortunate about it - I hope the bastard gets soundly trounced in the next election.

  • ChrisO||

    Nice thought, but it will never happen.

    The inevitable result would be even more unsavory characters taking charge in both Iraq and Afghanistan. That would probably not have much practical consequence for the USA, but it would hand the GOP a cudgel to use against Obama next year.

    The most amazing thing about bin Laden is how he managed to turn the GOP into big advocates of Nation Building, which even Dubya had criticized during the 2000 campaign. Of course, the sheer idiocy of the idea does not change, regardless of which party advocates it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Not that I necessarily disagree with declaring victory and leaving the 'stans in the dust, but the dude really shouldn't be making foreign policy decisions based on how it would play at the polls.

  • ||

    You are absolutely right, he shouldn't be making foreign policy decisions based on how it will play at the polls, but is there any other reason he would have run so far from his antiwar campaign ideals? Leaving aside the possibility that he never meant any of it in the first place, this is his opportunity to do what he claimed he believed in without a crippling political backlash.

  • Virginia||

    Right. Just like after Saddam was hanged.

    Leaving now would be selling out all those brave voters with purple thumbs! Or the women without ears and noses. Or something.

  • Tim||

    "It's important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to defeat terrorist enemies and protect the American people," House Speaker John Boehner said in his post-bin Laden press conference. "This makes our engagement in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan more important not less."

  • Tman||

    What has amazed me about all the Bin Laden stuff is how little influence this is having on the bigger picture of the Arab spring.

    If anything, Bin Laden and his merry band of hipster douchebags have made Islamic fundamentalists WAYYY less appealing to the Arab and Persians and Kurds who are clamoring for independence from their tyrannical leaders. Of course there will be fits and starts, and the muslim brotherhood in Egypt is very well organized so they will try their best to gain a majority. Hezbollah is currently using democracy to undermine the system itself in Lebanon, and who knows how long a representative system can hold out against a terrorist group funded by Iran such as they.

    But whomever pretends to know what is going to happen over there considering the latest upheavals is admitting that they haven't the first fucking clue about the dynamics of the region to begin with.

    And one thing for sure, despite our American interest in Bin Laden, this doesn't amount to a pile of beans in either Syria or Lybia right now.

  • ||

    "We now have nearly 100,000 troops in-country chasing what President Obama's CIA director admits are "50 to 100" al Qaeda operatives, "maybe less."

    Why don't we hire the al qaeda operatives? Or just keep them sated and weakened with 72 "virgins" (sure, they're not virgins, but how many guys are gonna leave halfway through a blowjob???)

    Damn, outnumbered 100 to one with the most technologically advanced enemy ever, they are as powerful as ironman and as stealthly as a ninja. They could probably even fight Shaft to a draw...

    I say run away.

  • ChrisO||

    Well, 50 to 100 al Qaeda operatives plus all the local Pashtun warlords providing them support, which is what the "Taliban" now mostly consists of.

    Afghanistan, as an entity, is readily conquerable, but it is not governable. It would probably be cheaper and more effective for the U.S. government to get the troops out and just pay the right amount of "walking around money" to various warlords to ensure that the real bad guys get handed to us on a platter.

  • Rich||

    “We should declare victory, and come home.”


  • ||

    and USAID-sponsored pro-democracy "kite festivals."

    How else do we expect them to discover electricity?

  • fish||

    I understand you can learn by having your junk hooked up to a crank operated field phone.

  • Brett L||

    If they didn't learn that from the Russians, we don't need to teach them.

  • jtuf||

    This post is brilliant. Let's start bringing out troops home now.


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