Obama Gives 10,000 Men Opportunity to be Last Man to Die for Our Mistake in Afghanistan

Later today, President Obama will address the graduating class of West Point and, according to reports, outline a bold new foreign policy framework that will simultaneously explain how everything he's already done was exactly the right thing to do and how going forward he will be even more perfect. Or something.

But as Daily Beast reporters Eli Lake and Josh Rogin point out, the president has already signaled he's going keep upwards of 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, the longest-running war ever for the U.S. and one of our biggest failures.

President Obama is poised to keep nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan until at least 2016. Some top intelligence and military officers now fighting that war say the number of troops under consideration by the White House should be just enough to prevent al Qaeda from re-establishing a safe haven. Others aren’t so sure that 9,800 troops can keep the terror group and its allies at bay.

The decision to attack Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks was both understandable and defensible. But what is the mission in Afghanistan now? Or more precisely, what was it the minute the Taliban was deposed and the trail for bin Laden went cold? Was it nation-building? Was it creating one more spot on the planet where goodwill toward America could dissolve into the sand once again?

Whatevs. Republicans bash Obama for being "weak" and "indecisive." Like in Libya, where he dispatched American force without even pretending there was an imminent attack on the U.S. or even consulting Congress. How'd they work out again? (Memo to Republicans: The means and shitty outcome of our intervention into Libya is the scandal; Benghazi is a horrible sideshow.) Here's Sen. John McCain, who's never met a war anywhere he didn't want to join:

“The president wants to be able to say in January 2017 that he got us out of both wars. The tragedy of that is the chaos that he is leaving behind,” McCain said. “I’d like to hear how he will restore the reliability of the United States in the world, which has dramatically eroded. I have no illusions that that will happen.”

Until the Republicans admit that it was precisely stupid, ill-conceived, and poorly prosecuted U.S. foreign policy that has contributed so much to instability in the world, don't expect foreign policy to get better. Especially when the Democrats refuse to admit that their guy in the White House has been a disaster for related but also distinct problems (one of which is never admitting his mistakes, a la Bush, but always blaming others).

And for the 10,000 troops who will be cooling their heels doing god knows what in Afghanistan for a couple of years: You're going to need. Hopefully none of you will the last man (or woman) to die for that mistake. Which is a memorable phrase once uttered by the current Secretary of State, John Kerry, who inspires confidence in absolutely no one as a diplomat or guardian of young soldiers.

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  • mr simple||

    The means and shitty outcome of our intervention into Libya is the scandal...

    You're going to need.

    Proofread much?

  • ImanAzol||

    About as much as he...reasoned...this article.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss.

  • Swiss Servator, CH yeah!||

    Until the Republicans admit that it was precisely stupid, ill-conceived, and poorly prosecuted U.S. foreign policy that has contributed so much to instability in the world, don't expect foreign policy to get better.

    Wha? Maoist self flagellation or nothing will get better?

    How about both parties just change their actions, no hairshirts and lamentations required.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    And for the 10,000 troops who will be cooling their heels doing god knows what in Afghanistan for a couple of years: You're going to need. Hopefully none of you will the last man (or woman) to die for that mistake.

    So does this mean that Reason is looking for proofreaders?

  • Free Society||

    The decision to attack Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks was both understandable and defensible. But what is the mission in Afghanistan now?

    Not so sure about that. Even supposing an attack was justifiable, does not necessitate that the actual attack as it happened, was justifiable. Was the occupation justifiable, the drones, the kill squads, the atrocities, which parts were particularly defensible and which parts were not?

    Perhaps another form of military retaliation would have been better suited? To what extent was Afghanistan just a bloody political theater? Perhaps there was even more justification for invading Pakistan. Except we all know the practical concerns of attacking a nuclear power outweighed any justifications. So the lesser justifications for taking on the world's most impoverished state and society won out, not exactly a triumph of moral goodness.

  • Jackand Ace||

    And what, Nick, is your man Rand Paul suggesting to do with Afghanistan? In a letter just last year to the President, and co-signed by Senators Brown and Merkley, he said this:

    "After 2014, we urge you to keep only as many troops necessary to pursue a limited counter-terrorism mission and assist in training the Afghan Nation Security Forces."

    Sounds like he is doing just that, Nick. Enough troops for counter-terrorism and training. Maybe a year too late for most of us and Paul, but then, sounds like Paul also thought that some troops needed to be left there. Would you have complained that Paul was asking 10,000, or even just 5,000, troops to die for a mistake? No, because God forbid you will ever complain about him.

    By the way, you lost me quoting Eli Lake...one of the salesmen for our misbegotten war in Iraq.

  • kinnath||

    Shorter Obama: Because Fuck You That's Why.

  • tarran||

    Men, you're lucky men. Soon, you'll all be fighting for your planet. many of you will be dying for your planet. A few of you will be put through a fine mesh screen for your planet. They will be the luckiest of all.
  • Auric Demonocles||

    The Elders tell of a young ball much like you. He bounced three meters in the air. Then he bounced 1.8 meters in the air. Then he bounced four meters in the air. Do I make myself clear?

  • sasob||

    Not entirely, no.

  • tarran||

    Mr. Ambassador, our people tell the same story. Oy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Auric, they're unveiling Dragon V2 (kinda Nazi-like name, huh?) tomorrow evening. Fuck it, let's start sending people into space again right now.

  • Sevo||

    So it's still a war if 10,001 soldiers are there?

  • kmc212||

    This is just another reminder that we are ruled over by rotten people.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    We've got to fight them over there, or we'll have to fight them in the alt-text.

  • sasob||

    Dude! We can't just bring 10,000 troops home all of a sudden and throw them into the economy - think what it would do to the unemployment stats. You don't want the prez to look bad, do you?

  • Doctor Whom||

    Job production! Stimulus! Operation Enduring Window-Breaking!

  • ||

    It wouldn't do squat to unemployment stats, because they all have a job.

  • Brubaker||

    Bringing the troops home from Afghanistan isn't synonymous with throwing them into the economy. They can be stationed here in the US, where there's generally fewer people shooting.

  • Anon E. Mouse||

    "The decision to attack Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks was both understandable and defensible. But what is the mission in Afghanistan now? Or more precisely, what was it the minute the Taliban was deposed and the trail for bin Laden went cold? "

    That you need to ask this question is indicative of a number of things. What good what it have done to drive out AQ and the Taliban, only to have them reestablish a safe-haven for international terrorists the day we pulled out?

    The entire issue is this: Nobody wanted to, or wants to hear the truth and face facts.

    Problem 1. There are only two ways we will NOT be reengaging in Afghanistan in the future: (1) Kill every male over the age of 12, or (2)Be prepared to spend the next 50 years instituting a generational change in their society. Anything else is a waste of blood and treasure. The first option really isn't an option. The second option is the only real option, but nobody wants to contemplate having military forces in Afghanistan for the next four decades. After all, it's not nice duty like Germany or Japan or South Korea, where we've had forces for the last half-century plus, and it's a hard-sell to the American people, who have the attention span of squirrels.

  • Anon E. Mouse||

    Problem 2. You can't fight a counterinsurgency with conventional forces. It requires a special brand of idiocy to think that the counter to occasional IED's on roads is to send massive, road-bound vehicles requiring a massive, road-bound logistics train to fuel them and keep them running. It becomes a giant self-licking ice-cream cone. Right now, for every soldier that actually leaves the wire and fights bad guys, there are somewhere between 100 and 200 support personnel.

    Problem 3. Other than a line on a map, there is no border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The idea that AQ, Taliban or whatever terrorist group can attack Afghan or Coalition Forces one day, and cross a line on a map to safety the next is, tactically speaking, fucking retarded.

  • Anon E. Mouse||

    Problem 4. Karzai...someone needs to explain to him that it's in his best interest that he cooperate, and that absconding to France with his drug-lord brother and a 747 full of US Dollars isn't going to be an option when we leave.

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