Foreign Policy

General Delay-Us

Will the Afghan mission be over by 2012? Depends on the mission.

|

President Barack Obama's new man in charge in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, is already casting doubt on the president's announced plans for a July 2011 beginning of an end to the U.S. occupation. If Petraeus' ill-fated predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, got ankled for casting caustic doubt on the efficacy of his civilian leaders by being too loose-lipped around a reporter from that longhair rag Rolling Stone, will Petraeus be capped for speaking another obvious truth Obama doesn't want broadcast? With things getting worse on so many metrics, a dogged insistence on actually "accomplishing the mission" in Afghanistan—beyond the one we long ago accomplished; namely, driving out the government that coddled the 9/11 planners and scattering them from their Afghan stronghold—means that we aren't leaving in 2011.

Many respectable voices beyond Petraeus' agree that we shouldn't. Following the script laid out by a March CIA memo published by Wikileaks on how to get our European allies more closely involved in the war (by getting their public upset about women's rights violations by the enemy), Time magazine's recent cover story on the war tried to gin up sympathy for its continuance at a time when American public support for the war is as low as it has ever been.

The most delicious part of that CIA memo is its discussion about how to manipulate public opinion when "counting on apathy might not be enough" to sustain support for the war. Alas, public apathy usually is quite sufficient to allow American politicians to do whatever they want when it comes to foreign policy. But still, when contemplating the public here or over there, the military isn't counting on it. The Pentagon had been profiling and monitoring the press in order to make decisions about how to handle press embed decisions (surprise, McChrystal-slayer Michael Hastings no longer qualifies), a policy that one soldier told Stars and Stripes strikes him as showing "utter contempt for the Constitution, which we in the service pledge our lives to defend."

Time's cover picture of an Afghan woman with her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban could with equal truth and accuracy—though an undeniably different spin—have been one of a civilian corpse blown to bits by a U.S. missile. Indeed, 24 percent of 2009's over 2000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan were caused by our army or our allies. Time marked their image boldly and with no qualification: "What happens if we leave Afghanistan." Of course, that happened while we were in Afghanistan—and worse happens with the enthusiastic support of many hundreds, at the very least, of the people whose right to democratic self-governance the U.S. is killing its troops and spending its absent treasure to secure. Not that anyone believes the parliamentary elections planned for next month will be any more fair and honest than the one that placed our current reluctant satrap Hamid Karzai in power.

We're not going to succeed in building a reasonably unified nation—which is not to say Afghanistan can never again be a reasonable and unified nation, though some area analysts not beholden to upholding the U.S. mission have their doubts. But adding our continuing share to the nearly constant past 30 years of chaos and warfare that turned what was once at least a somewhat modern place into what it is today isn't helping. The necessary social and cultural changes toward a modern role for women will undoubtedly come slowly, as they did for the West, and not at the hands of an invading army of another culture, as they did not for the West.

We aren't, for example, going to forcefully craft a modern nation without attachment to certain ugly aspects of traditional Islam—as The New York Times' recent account of a Taliban-sponsored stoning of a pair of young adulterers makes clear:

Perhaps most worrisome were signs of support for the action from mainstream religious authorities in Afghanistan. The head of the Ulema Council in Kunduz Province, Mawlawi Abdul Yaqub, interviewed by telephone, said Monday that stoning to death was the appropriate punishment for an illegal sexual relationship, although he declined to give his view on this particular case.

And less than a week earlier, the national Ulema Council brought together 350 religious scholars in a meeting with government religious officials, who issued a joint statement Aug. 10 calling for more punishment under Shariah, apparently referring to stoning, amputations and lashings.

Failure to implement such "Islamic provisions," the council statement said, was hindering the peace process and encouraging crime.

With the maddening sniff of the master let down by his truculent slave, Leon Wieseltier in an August 12 New Republic cover package dedicated to different ideas about the Afghanistan war (all of which, with sighs of varying strength, admit that staying is what's going to happen, to whatever uncertain end, even though they also all pretty much acknowledged that nothing was working), wrote, "I am losing faith in the war in Afghanistan because I am losing faith in Afghanistan." That is, his faith in the Afghan people's ability to be the nation our goals require it to be. If that's the best reason that American liberals can gin up for abandoning the war—notwithstanding all the killing and exploding and disrupting of an already far-too-battered nation and people—then so be it.

Whether one agrees with Wieseltier or not that the real problem is that the Afghan people aren't good enough to deserve our war, when one contemplates the cases of Afghan police helping the murder of aid workers, the continued incompetence of the Afghan armed forces, the country's forced dependence on U.S. troops, and how the very existence of the war we are waging prevents a usable civil society from forming (bribery alone eats up nearly 20 percent of their GDP), it's pretty clear the war isn't creating the Afghanistan the U.S. claims it is fighting for.

The Brookings Institution, whose lead Asian war man Michael O'Hanlon thinks we're doing pretty much fine over there, nonetheless gathers, mostly from U.S. government sources, the best extant macro data on the Afghan situation. From its most recent iteration we learn that civilian deaths in the war haven't been below 100 a month since May 2009 (though they were rarely above that before then); that the war has created 55,000 new displaced people in the half year from October 2009 through March 2010; that the percentage of the population sympathetic to the insurgents is up 14 percent in "key districts" since last year, that the number of districts now considered "dangerous environments" is up 8 percent, and that about 10 percent of the Afghan armed forces are deserters. And what about the number of al Qaeda leaders and fighters—remember 9/11!—believed to be in the country? Between 50 and 100. The number of U.S. troops? Roughly 87,000 now, expected to be over 100,000 by next year.

Those troops aren't doing what we claim to want in terms of building a stable Afghanistan, and they aren't needed for any actual national security goal. As Steven Metz of the U.S. Army War College summed up well, in a lawyerly "even if…" demolition of every argument about why our continued military presence is vital for national security, al Qaeda or any successor group does not need a national haven such as Afghanistan to operate. Moveover, there is good reason to believe the Afghan people will not willingly allow another complete Taliban takeover after their experience with the last one, and there is no reason to believe that if they did, they'd continue to provide the old level of support and protection for terrorists acting against the U.S. Finally, even if they did provide such support, that's a problem that could be taken care of quicker and easier via intelligence and targeted attacks than by stationing tens of thousands of troops.

Undoubtedly, Time is right: Ugly things will happen in Afghanistan if the U.S. leaves. Ugly things are happening there right now, both despite and because of our military presence. If we don't want to bear responsibility toward horrible outcomes, we shouldn't wage wars or launch invasions beyond utter necessity. It's too late for everything to be fine. But letting go of the notion that a million-a-year-per-troop military effort in Afghanistan is the beholden and just duty of the government of the United States is an important step toward a government that is not an active agent of murder and destruction, not to mention an agent of its own bankruptcy. (Do you believe that just half the troops in Afghanistan are doing as much to ensure domestic security as the entire Department of Homeland Security? The U.S. government acts as if it does, if national defense is meant to be the actual purpose of the Afghan occupation.)

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Foreign Policy that if the current strategy still seems to not be working by next year, then by God, they'll have to try something else. But not leave. Our man Karzai recklessly announced this week that in a country where little else provides actual security, he intends to dismantle all non-governmental security forces. The lauded Marja offensive didn't do what it promised and the expected Kandahar one isn't even happening. The war is immensely unpopular domestically and the people in charge of waging it see no end in sight. Its original goals were long met, and any further ones don't seem possible. Naturally, our "serious" political class wants to keep the machine of wealth and life destruction running full bore.

Senior Editor Brian Doherty is author of This is Burning Man (BenBella), Radicals for Capitalism (PublicAffairs) and Gun Control on Trial (Cato Institute).

Advertisement

NEXT: Why "CalPERS Manager" Is Every Stock Picker's Dream Job

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Heh Heh,
    Obama,
    How many kids
    Will never see their mama?

  2. It’s been more than a year and half sine The Chosen One became Commander in Chief. There are 56,000 troops (but not “combat troops”) still in Iraq delaying a strongman government takeover with the attendant civil war (anyone think we snuffed that out?).

    There are ~100,000 troops tilting at the windmill of creating a stable competent government in Afghanistan (we’ve given up on representative democracy there a long, long time ago).

    Nixon did a better job ending Vietnam.

    1. If you’d voted for McCain, our troubles in Vietnam would be over very quickly,

      1. How else are we going to set up for war with Iran? Sounds like the only logical reason for being over there. Wasn’t McCain’s plan, “Bomb bomb bomb Iran?” You can create public support once you’re in power. duh. Anyhow, we should listen to our generals right? Obama fired McChrystal to save face. Obama isn’t a war monger… “really”…

        1. Obama was always “sabre-rattling” Pakistan far louder than McCain. The only difference is that commandant Obama chooses the “right” wars for us to fight indefinitely.

    2. I’ve been watching the news about how the troops are leaving Irag. But as I watch all these media idiots all aflutter that (some) troops are coming home, my old unit is sending me updates about how they’re casing the colors and packing up to go to Iraq. I may be dumb, but you don’t send a full heavy cav regiment to a country if your goal is to pull out all the combat troops.

      1. Does anyone actually think the tens of thousands of troops we left are, um, not combat troops? Is this the kind of media coverage we’re going to get, even when it’s blatant bull?

        1. Not to pick nits but I believe troops who actually pull some sort of trigger – combat troops – are a small portion of overall numbers. Not that the media actually knows this.

          1. Why do you want to destroy America?

      2. T, we are going to have around 50,000 troops staying. Troop rotation still applies, so yes, units will still be packing up and going over for years to come.

        1. A is …

          What part of “full heavy cav regiment” don’t you understand?

    3. Fox News says we should be in more wars. It was just yesterday that Captain Kangaroo said we should be at war with Iran.

  3. This administration has no shortage of buses to throw people under.

    1. Lots of jobs are created building, driving and cleaning those buses.

  4. we’re still in Afghanistan?!

    well at least my taxes will go up to remind me of our overseas empire-building.

    1. If they actually raised taxes in proportion to the costs of the wars (you know, actually pay for them), I think we might soon see the end of US adventures overseas. How else might you get those that like to both beat the war drum and demand tax cuts come to terms with reality?

      1. But what if I’m a gun owner but neither gay nor a communist, can I join your group?

  5. I think it’s fucking awesome Obama’s escalating this war so he can prove his toughness. Tough Guy Obama.

    The only way I see to end this politically is elect a president that will do so. Ah fuck it, how much longer can the economy hold up!?

    There’s only one thing that could turn this thing around: if Obama goes over to Afghanistan and gives a speech about …..wait for it……. hope and change.

    1. “”I think it’s fucking awesome Obama’s escalating this war so he can prove his toughness. Tough Guy Obama.””

      Do you reallly believe that?

  6. Obama’s just following in the footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt: Walk softly, but swing around your big dick shouting: “if you’re not with us, you’re a fucking terrorist!”

    That’s what our foreign policy amounts to.

  7. Afghanistan was screwed before we arrived.

    Afghanistan is screwed now that we are there.

    Afghanistan will be screwed when we eventually leave.

    But, as long as the Pentagon Pimp Daddies have an adventure to justify spending money on, it will continue.

  8. For those who advocate withdrawal, I ask how do you want to do this?

    Do you want to negotiate some kind of peace agreement with the Taliban first (something where they don’t regain the full control they had over the country prior to 2001)? Or do you want to just withdraw outright, and let the chips fall where they may?

    And what about the little matter of Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden? Do we try to negotiate peace with them also?

    My position is that it is unacceptable for the Taliban to regain the power it had in Afghanistan before October 2001, or for Al-Qaeda to regain safe havens. Also, even if the Taliban doesn’t retake Kabul, they could still be a problem if they gain firm enough control over a large part of the country so that jihadist groups are able to operate there unencumbered.

    If the Taliban is willing to lay down their arms and be re-integrated into Afghan society, I could accept that. Higher level members of the Taliban (Mullah Omar and others who chose to refuse to shut down Al-Qaeda even after the WTC attacks) should be permanently barred from personally reentering government. Lower level members who had no part in the decision should be allowed to run in elections like anyone else, but they should not get any automatic position of power just for making peace. The message: If you fuck with the US, you lose power and don’t get it back.

    If we are going to be negotiating peace with the Taliban, but still fighting with Al-Qaeda, we will also need to have some way to monitor the situation in Afghanistan to ensure that Al-Qaeda doesn’t reestablish bases in there.

    There also should not be any concessions on human rights just to bring the Taliban to the table.

    By the way, check out the public opinion section of the Brookings page Doherty links to (pages 36 through 43).

    http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/Programs/FP/afghanistan index/index.pdf

    The Afghan public overwhelmingly opposes the Taliban and prefers (for all its faults) the current government. This is not a popular insurgency the US is fighting. It is an ideologically driven extremist faction that draws a considerable amount of its power from illicit material support from extremist sympathizers outside Afghanistan. The Taliban gained momentum for the past few years when the US was focused on Iraq (one more reason I wish Bush had not invaded Iraq in 2003). But with that conflict winding down; the US can devote more effort to defeating the Taliban, or forcing them to negotiate a settlement in which they lay down their arms.

    1. One could perhaps agree with you under 2 circumstances.

      1. That you could show me that the Taliban doesn’t have their way, as you put it, right fucking now while we have a strong military presence.

      2. That the Taliban, a rag tag groups of fucking tribesman, give a shit at all about holding a bargain.

      We need to get the fuck out. Use drones to go after high value targets and destroy any terror camps, but we need to stop with the money spending on a bottomless pit of a war now.

      1. 1. That you could show me that the Taliban doesn’t have their way, as you put it, right fucking now while we have a strong military presence.

        They don’t control Kabul or most of the country of Afghanistan. And with a US military offensive, the amount of territory they control can be reduced further.

        2. That the Taliban, a rag tag groups of fucking tribesman, give a shit at all about holding a bargain.

        Well, I am not as sure about that one. Some of the more ideologically extreme and committed Taliban members probably are not willing to negotiate and would sooner die for the cause of Islamist Theocracy. However, there are some fighters in the Taliban coalition who are not hard core ideologues, but only joined because they (or their tribal leaders) were paid to fight for the Taliban.

        For the later group, negotiations can probably yield an agreement (especially if they are losing the war). For the former group, the only tenable course of action may be to oblige their desire to become martyrs.

        We need to get the fuck out. Use drones to go after high value targets and destroy any terror camps, but we need to stop with the money spending on a bottomless pit of a war now.

        Drones are useful as part of this fight, but it would be problematic to rely only on drones/air power. For one thing it is more difficult to go after an enemy that is dispersed into small groups over a wide terrain without some assistance from land forces. Another problem is that campaigns that use air strikes heavily tend to produce more collateral damage civilian casualties – which serves as a recruiting and propaganda tool for the enemy.

        1. So, you’re in favor of invading northern Pakistan too? We land our Big Badass Army in Afghanistan, and the bad guys pull back across the border. All they have to do is wait for us to run out of money and/or willpower (and we eventually will), and they get to come back home the winners.

          It’s their home. They don’t have anywhere else to go.

          I agree with you, the idea of “letting them win” is maddening.

          But the idea that we’re “defeating” them in any real sense, is maddeningly stupid.

          Keep the drones idea, and spend your money on better technology to cut the collateral damage.

          1. “”But the idea that we’re “defeating” them in any real sense, is maddeningly stupid.””

            Not if you frame it as necessary for justification by the Pentagon Pimp Daddies.

    2. “If the Taliban is willing to lay down their arms and be re-integrated into Afghan society, I could accept that.”

      You would accept it oh great omnipotent one. Guess what, back when the US was run by competent people Father Lincoln let the Johnny Reb keep his rifle. Your remark is both megalomaniacal and delusional. After a half century of war the country is covered with bombs and infantry weapons. NATO has no intention of sweeping the country for unexploded ordinance. The suggestion of disarmament is impossible.

      Afghan society? No such thing, it does not now, nor has it ever existed. Afghanistan is a ‘made’ up country.

      Guess what, it is time to bail on the GWOT before it destroys American society.

      1. It isn’t an AFGHAN insurgency, BG, it’s a Pashtun insurgency. Your numbers for Afghan public opinion may be correct, but the Pashtuns overwhelmingly support Taliban rule, and they have always been Afghanistan’s most active and powerful faction. You also ignore that the people we are fighting includes many Pakistanis as well – Pashtuns who happened to be born on the other side of the border

        1. Your numbers for Afghan public opinion may be correct, but the Pashtuns overwhelmingly support Taliban rule…

          [Citation needed]

          1. Same to you …

            1. What, specifically, do you need a citation for? If it is my claims about Afghan public opinion, I posted the URL for the Brookings poll (which Doherty also links to) in my initial comment. Here it is again (see pages 36 to 43 for the public opinion data).

              http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/Programs/FP/afghanistan index/index.pdf

  9. My position is that it is unacceptable for the Taliban to regain the power it had in Afghanistan before October 2001, or for Al-Qaeda to regain safe havens. Also, even if the Taliban doesn’t retake Kabul, they could still be a problem if they gain firm enough control over a large part of the country so that jihadist groups are able to operate there unencumbered.

  10. it is so great for me to come to the site
    just have a look
    but help me a lot
    thanks

  11. aha obama is really a good person
    it is so wonderful

  12. Now that combat operations have “wound down” in Iraq (wait, didn’t they already do that under Bush?), all US forces still in Iraq are now officially on vacation.

    You too can take your next vacation in a Middle East country.

  13. Isn’t it really General Betrayus

  14. So, you’re in favor of invading northern Pakistan too? We land our Big Badass Army in Afghanistan, and the bad guys pull back across the border.

    You have a point – that is a real problem. I would greatly prefer if the Pakistani government would allow us to move in full force with ground troops into the area where the Taliban have a presence. Or (better yet) I’d prefer them to take out the Taliban themselves within their own territory. Right now they are at best doing a half-assed job of it, and at worst elements of their government have actively aided (and maybe are still aiding) Taliban militants.

    The best answer I can think of to that problem is to try to diplomatically pressure or incentivize the Pakistani government to get serious about taking out the Taliban in their territory or allow us to do it. (For the life of me, I can’t understand what they hope to gain by allowing the Taliban to escape defeat and possibly regain power. What could they possibly get from the Taliban that we couldn’t give them more of in exchange for their assistance?).

    It’s their home. They don’t have anywhere else to go.

    I agree with you, the idea of “letting them win” is maddening.

    But the idea that we’re “defeating” them in any real sense, is maddeningly stupid.

    Haven’t there been many regimes, tribes, armies, etc. in history that have been defeated on their own soil? Why would it be impossible in principle in this case? Notice that in 2002 the Taliban seemed almost completely defeated, and for years seemed to be barely a threat. US attention was focused on Iraq during the Taliban resurgence so troops and resources could not be readily transferred there, and US attention has just recently switched back to Afghanistan/Pakistan.

    1. That’s the problem. We’ve half-assed it from the beginning. Bush and co. thought we could take Afghanistan with a handful of special forces/CIA and some modest air power. Then we got a bad case of mission creep and decided to focus on human rights, democracy, and fighting the opium trade rather than killing Al Qaeda.

      Occupations of Afghanistan never work. But short-term punitive missions do. Michael Scheuer lays this out pretty well in his books, and says that we should have gone in full-bore after 9/11, killed our main enemies and then got out, letting the Afghans rebuild their society.

      This mess should have ended at Tora Bora.

      1. “”We’ve half-assed it from the beginning. Bush and co. thought we could take Afghanistan with a handful of special forces/CIA and some modest air power. “”

        You are leaving out the part where someone thought it was a good idea to put Afghan warlords between OBL and Pakistan.

  15. “Undoubtedly, Time is right: Ugly things will happen in Afghanistan if the U.S. leaves. ”

    Why? You are assuming things.

    As to the Time article: Facial disfigurement is not in Sharia Law, and there does not seem to be a pattern of it in Afghan or Islamic history. I am not going to say the Time story is 100% BS. But it does not fit the pattern of Islamic or Afghan history. The Taliban actually issued a press release denying responsibility and offering Islamic reasoning why facial disfigurement is non permitted. Who do you trust Time, the Taliban, no one?

  16. Haven’t read any posts yet, if this is already covered then please note it and fuck off :

    ” Indeed, 24 percent of 2009’s over 2000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan were caused by our army or our allies.”

    Stupidest fucking statistic I have ever read. That completely fucks whatever semi-coherent argument Doherty was putting together. THAT is the damnning statistic?!?! So, if I read correctly, the Taliban are responsible for MORE THAN THREE-QUARTERS OF ALL CIVILIAN DEATHS! Wow, bet you won’t hear the msm trumpeting that stat – they would hate for you to realize that despite all our troops and allies troops on the ground and all our kinetic operations we don’t even kill a third of the civilians that the Taliban – living among them and using them as shields (but no doubt, winning their “hearts and minds”- kill with total abandon and intention. Fuck Brian Doherty, as he is a dishonest hack making transparent and specious arguments.

    Not to say there are not arguments to be made here about getting out of Afghanistan -I have made them many times – but impugning our regard for the lives of non-combatants is flat out retarded and intentionally slanderous. Fuckwad.

  17. Props to Doherty for pointing out how no “serious” commentators or political figures actually advocate peace, just some low-level war/CIA mischief

  18. @ Joe Q Public

    Anyone with even a basic understanding of context and figures of speech would understand that the Taliban “laying down their arms” in this context would mean “stop fighting against the government in Kabul”. And for Taliban militants to be re-integrated into Afghan society would mean they still live in Afghanistan, but as regular citizens rather than insurgents. And nothing you said is relevant to my argument that the US should not allow the Taliban to regain power as it had before October 2001.

    @ Joe Q Taliban

    I trust Time Magazine over the Taliban. But even if the story is inaccurate and the Taliban was not involved in this particular dismemberment, the general barbarism and savagery of Sharia law (especially in Taliban form) is well known. It is clear that if they retook control of Afghanistan it would be a disaster: both strategically for the US and in terms of Human Rights for Afghans.

    @ RyanXXX

    I agree that it would have been better if Bush had focused more on fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan/Pakistan early on (rather than invading Iraq). But just because Bush dropped the ball doesn’t mean the US should not correct the mistake now by “going in full bore” to kill/capture its main enemies (and reward its allies by not abandoning them to theocratic barbarians).

    1. On the human rights issue, have you taken a look at our current allies? Not the official “ministers,” but the coalition of warlords who support Karzai’s government? All either ex-communists or opium traffickers (Dostum, Karzai’s brother, etc.)

      And my point about going in full-bore is that it’s too late to correct the damage done by 8 years of half-assery. I say withdraw, let the Taliban take over (if they can), let Al Qaeda and their friends flock to the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Then our enemy will have a state, and we can declare war the old-fashioned way. We won’t have to listen to bullshit about a “global, stateless enemy” any more. America has historically failed at counter-insurgency (unless you count the Indians), but kicked other COUNTRIES’ ass

      1. On the human rights issue, have you taken a look at our current allies? Not the official “ministers,” but the coalition of warlords who support Karzai’s government? All either ex-communists or opium traffickers (Dostum, Karzai’s brother, etc.)

        Opium traffickers are a huge improvement over the Taliban from a human rights perspective. I think we should legalize opium use and sale for consenting adults – and give preferential access to our markets to pro-American forces in Afghanistan (other drugs should be legalized as well as a matter of personal freedom). We can monitor the supply chain to ensure that the none of the profits get back to the enemy, and perhaps have some minimum standard of human rights that the warlord/dealer must meet to be allowed to sell to us.

        As far as the ex-communists, as long as they don’t try to implement a gulag system or something (which they won’t) having them as part of the power structure does not change the fact that the awkwardly united, factional coalition in power now is better overall on human rights than the Taliban (not a high bar to top).

        Also, although the real governing authority may be outsourced to local warlords or tribal chiefs in much of the country, the central government does have control in a few areas (for example: in Kabul itself). In those areas there has been significant improvement.

        And my point about going in full-bore is that it’s too late to correct the damage done by 8 years of half-assery. I say withdraw, let the Taliban take over (if they can), let Al Qaeda and their friends flock to the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Then our enemy will have a state, and we can declare war the old-fashioned way. We won’t have to listen to bullshit about a “global, stateless enemy” any more. America has historically failed at counter-insurgency (unless you count the Indians), but kicked other COUNTRIES’ ass

        So your plan is basically to start over? And the nascent Afghan National Army and allied armed groups are supposed to do what, retreat until they have only a small part of the country left and wait for our bombing campaign to go back on the offensive? Although the 2001 offensive caused few casualties for NATO forces (who mostly provided air cover and had few ground troops), I doubt our allies, or the civilians caught near Taliban positions when we bomb, will much appreciate this strategy. There is a real cost associated with taking territory (especially urban territory), and it seems foolish to cede most of the country to the Taliban just to pay that cost a second time. While there may be certain circumstances where a limited tactical retreat is useful in drawing the enemy out, it is implausible that what you propose is an example of this.

        Also, there are other terrorist groups elsewhere in the world that have a similar ideology to Al-Qaeda (and may or may not have operational ties). It is unlikely these groups would quit or move to Afghanistan even if the Taliban regained power. We can decide that we are not at war with those groups unless they directly attack us, but your plan wouldn’t really end the “global, stateless” nature of jihadism.

        1. Yes, I say start over if we really want to win this war. It would be like rewinding to 2001. And who cares what our “allies” would think? What have they done for us in that country? They let Bin Laden go at Tora Bora, their police forces are among the most corrupt in the world, their “army” runs away from fights.

          1. Yes, I say start over if we really want to win this war. It would be like rewinding to 2001.

            Yes, in the sense that the Taliban would have control of the territory that they lost since October 2001. But the people who died in the course of the US-led coalition taking that territory would not be brought back to life.

            And who cares what our “allies” would think? What have they done for us in that country?

            As I mentioned, they provided most of the ground forces during that initial 2001 advance.

            They let Bin Laden go at Tora Bora, their police forces are among the most corrupt in the world, their “army” runs away from fights.

            Yes it is frustrating that Osama bin Laden got away at Tora Bora. I am inclined to agree that Bush should have sent more US forces to the Tora Bora siege, since our professional army would be more likely to have captured or killed him (and any other top Al-Qaeda people who were there at the time). But it does not follow that it is a good idea to let them recapture the country and start over. There is no reason to assume that bin Laden will reenter Tora Bora and give the US a chance to get it right this time. And also, if the US let them recapture Afghanistan, and then launched another offensive to drive them out again, there would be nothing stopping the Taliban from going back to the insurgency style of warfare they are using now.

            Also I need a citation for the claim that the Afghan army “runs away from fights”.

  19. Obama was always “sabre-rattling” Pakistan far louder than McCain. The only difference is that commandant Obama chooses the “right” wars for us to fight indefinitely.

  20. Heh Heh,
    Obama,
    How many kids
    Will never see their mama?

  21. There are ~100,000 troops tilting at the windmill of creating a stable competent government in Afghanistan (we’ve given up on representative democracy there a long, long time ago).

    Nixon did a better job ending Vietnam.

  22. My first kid will be born in February. Hopefully the “war” will be over before he’s old enough to fight in it.

  23. Obama was always “sabre-rattling” Pakistan far louder than McCain. The only difference is that commandant Obama chooses the “right” wars for us to fight indefinitely.

  24. Choo lives in London. jimmy choo He is currently involved in a project to set up a shoemaking institute in Malaysia, where his iconic status is often evoked to inspire budding shoemakers and fashion designers. His company Jimmy Choo Ltd. produces some of the most expensive high-end shoes.Our designer replica handbags can wear well with any accessory on purpose.jimmy choo shoes Meticulous pieces on the replica handbags absolutely shock your eyes.Jimmy Choo Keenan Patent Leather Sandals Black patent leather strappy sandals. Peep toe silhouette. Ankle closure with told toned side buckle. Leather upper, in-sole and sole.

  25. President Barack Obama’s new man in charge in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, i

  26. Naturally, our “serious” political class wants to keep the machine of wealth and life destruction running full bore.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.