Afghanistan

It's Never Too Early to Finally Leave Afghanistan

The original purpose of the Afghanistan war has long been fulfilled. So why are U.S. forces still over there?

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Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced last week an unexpectedly early deadline of summer 2013 for winding down the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Well, kind of, supposedly, or perhaps with the same amount of seriousness that the administration took the July 2011 drawdown deadline that never was. The same New York Times story reporting on Panetta's announcement also notes that "Mr. Panetta said no decisions had been made about the number of American troops to be withdrawn in 2013, and he made clear that substantial fighting lies ahead." (In other words, there are plenty of American soldiers and Afghans alike who will still be dying for a mistake.)

Part of what Panetta means is that Special Operations—still U.S. military, still involved in fighting—will be taking on more of the burden of our impossible mission and possibly even increasing in number, while conventional forces start leaving in larger numbers.

This is likely to be just one more example of a decade's worth of pronouncements from American officials about progress or improvement in Afghanistan that shouldn't be taken very seriously. As Foreign Policy reported last week following Panetta's much hyped statement:

In Chicago, meanwhile, the President's Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes insisted there will be no change to the 2014 plan [agreed to in a Lisbon meeting in 2010 by NATO], warning that "We will need allies to remain committed to that goal." The president's Special Assistant for European Affairs Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, evidently ignorant of Panetta's statement, assured reporters that the Secretary of Defense "will be very clear about our plans to remain on the Lisbon timeline."

About 90,000 U.S. troops are there now, with up to 22,000 supposedly already set to leave before the end of 2012. As The New York Times reports, there has "been no decision on the number of troops to be committed to the mission as it evolves in 2013 and into 2014."

Another possible barrier between Panetta's intentions and reality in 2013/2014 is the election between now and then. While Mitt Romney, the most likely Republican contender, has approved of the end-of-2014 withdrawal, he also seems to think that Panetta's announced plan to have the Afghans assume more responsibility for their own security starting before then is unconscionable. Romney announces that he intends, somehow, to end the war "by beating" the Taliban. As a decade and more of U.S. forces and commanders might say, good luck with that.

France has also declared that it is bugging out with its 3,900 troops (most of them hunkered down in defensive positions nowadays—U.S. forces have long complained about the political restrictions our European allies place on their small numbers of troops) ahead of its NATO compatriots by end of 2013. That announcement came at a joint appearance of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, where Karzai seemed to agree with Sarkozy that getting foreign combat troops out by that deadline would be a good thing. But then again Karzai has never been a satisfactory satrap, even beyond the questionable "democracy" behind his elected leadership in a land to which we are allegedly trying to bring real democracy.

In his interesting new book The Operators—spun off the Rolling Stone feature that cost Gen. Stanley McChrystal his job leading our Afghan forces by revealing his and his staff's contempt for their civilian chain of command—reporter Michael Hastings notes that our own diplomats often understand that "U.S. forces are not fighting and dying to combat terrorists, but are fighting and dying in local political disputes."

Our forces on the ground rarely understood the specifics of the complicated tribal chaos they were involved in, and in specific cases, as Hastings concluded, having our troops leave any specific valley "is as meaningless as staying in those valleys—no impact on our national security or the stability in Afghanistan whatsoever."

Despite all our efforts, our military and security situation in Afghanistan has been getting worse—2011 saw the highest number of civilian deaths in the war since it began, at 3,000. And they've been getting steadily worse, with each of the past five years having a higher number of deaths than the year before. In 2011, 410 of those deaths were directly caused by U.S. and allied forces, even beyond the question of how many of those deaths were caused by the fact that we are there providing a reason and target for Taliban insurgents to attack. See this marvelously deadpan detail from The New York Times: "French ground troops remain only in Kapisa Province, a relatively quiet area with little insurgent sympathy or activity, other than a few suicide bomb attacks on the French."

As I noted in 2010, too many American big thinkers and military strategists feel aggrieved by the Afghans' "failure" to rise to the occasion that our invasion and occupation are supposed to have provided for them. It's true our allies and enemies are equally menaces to our troops—Afghan soldiers are occasionally killing or attacking our own, and those of the French and our other allies, in more than three dozen incidents in the past five years. Not that our troops haven't been also wantonly killing civilians as well, and urinating on dead soldiers' corpses to boot. Let's say there are curious tensions on all sides of this contentious relationship between occupiers and occupied. The Afghan army we will want to take up our mantle as we leave is largely written off, even by U.S. analysts, as a bunch of illiterate, craven, deserting, drug addicts who are likely to just be the enemy in disguise anyway. Since the "enemy" is also just another huge gang of armed Afghans, this isn't too surprising.

Lt. Col Daniel Davis wrote at length about his own on-the-ground experiences in Afghanistan for Armed Forces Journal. He wrote:

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground…. In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described [numerous anecdotes of security failures and fecklessness and out-of-control violence]— and many, many more I could mention — had been in the first year of war, or even the third or fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war.

As the numbers depicting casualties and enemy violence indicate the absence of progress, so too did my observations of the tactical situation all over Afghanistan.

When having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose. That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they've gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years.

The Afghans don't love us for what we've done for them, and our soldiers and diplomats all know it. Because we haven't done much that they should love us for. In a country that's known little but war for most of its people's lifetimes, with a GDP grossly dependent on both international aid (that aid alone is almost equal to Afghanistan's entire GDP, which has a measured per capita income of just $528 a year) and illegal drugs, we haven't been godsends.

Rather, we make weak attempts to eradicate their best-selling crops and our international aid, as a World Bank report from November 2011 summed up, "in a situation of weak governance have been major sources of rents, patronage, and political power" helping prop up a government seen almost universally as useless and corrupt, and when tribal enmities arise, as an outright enemy.

Villagers commonly fear the very local police we fund and arm, creating comically horrific scenes where Afghan special forces and police get in public and murderous gun battles over whether someone was having sex with someone's young male cousin. Our much-despised "night raids" on people's homes aren't building trust. We were spending absurd amounts building roads to, as Hastings concludes, "mak[e] it easier for us to drive around the country to kill the disgruntled peasants." Afghanistan is less modern, rich, irrigated, and civilized than it was 40 years ago. Almost anyone with any ambition or intelligence wants nothing more than to leave.

And now maybe we want to as well. We certainly should.

Sure, Obama said that Afghanistan was "a war of necessity" that we "had to win." But it wasn't true; and he got suckered into giving the military a surge of new troops that tripled our footprint and quadrupled our expense to allegedly carry out counterinsurgency strategy in a way that would actually pacify and revive the country. Obama's first general that was truly his, McChrystal, liked to talk about how the unfathomable complexity of the Afghanistan situation made it difficult to be quite sure whether we were definitely making progress or not.

But mostly it should have been easy to see that we were not making progress—his own lower level commanders and troops often objecting strenuously to upper-level insistence on counterinsurgency strategy based, in theory, on not killing enemies but protecting civilians (though both enemies and civilians continue to be killed), a technique that actual American soldiers are ill-trained to carry out.

The chaos we are likely to leave behind will be somewhat our fault, yes. But it would be idiotic to make an entire nation's social and political order our responsibility forever, even if the very fact that we have announced with some believability an intention to leave means that our leverage over their government and their insurgents will start falling. We can't let the fact that past government actions have created unmanageable problems be an excuse to expend life and treasure forever trying to manage those problems, a lesson we need to learn with both domestic (hello, health care) and foreign policy.

Panetta admits that the cost to the U.S. and its NATO allies of propping up the Afghan army might be getting prohibitive, and that, "The funding is going to largely determine the kind of force we can sustain in the future," though I don't believe he'll end up meaning it. After all, when was the last time cost considerations dictated foreign policy or military spending? The troop costs, despite our vaunted international coalition, are mostly ours. We are the only nation with over 10,000 troops there.

The political costs for bad foreign policy are also too low. Most Americans don't genuinely care. Even an "end to the war in Afghanistan" will likely mean we can concentrate more on the expansion of the war into Pakistan, across whose border our Afghan enemies often run and hide. This will mean the concomitant expansion of largely ignored war crimes, like drone attacks on those who arrive on the scene of previous drone attacks, or on funerals mourning the victims of previous drone attacks.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told West Point cadets last year that "Any future secretary of defense who advises the president to again send a big American land army into the Middle East or Africa should have their head examined." That wisdom applies as well to wars that we (and he) foolishly got us stuck in for too long in the first place. Being doggedly committed to a policy with no clear end that consists of shipping tens of thousands of men and billions of dollars of weapons across the globe so young men can march around and maybe get shot at or step on an IED, or maybe if they are lucky get to shoot at and kill some native who is, in his own mind, fighting for his own tribe or gang or country's defense from foreign invaders, was and is similarly mad. Everyone seems to know that the situation in Afghanistan is and will remain a mess, though some seem to pretend that more of the same intervention and occupation that led to this mess will somehow—through unspecified means—fix things. But there is no reason to believe that's so and no reason to keep trying.

Whether Panetta's drawdown schedule is true or not, it does not seem that the United States has learned any important lessons from the experience. After a long propaganda campaign, 54 percent of Americans seem ready to accept a new war in Iran, and Syria may be on our agenda as well.

With wars being fought overseas against people unable to actually harm our homeland, all paid for by borrowing money and with no military draft in force, it's easy enough for the American people to just sigh and forget about it. Consider the fact that media coverage of Afghanistan has dropped by half over the past year, and realize why it's easy for the D.C. establishment to get away with whatever it wants in such foreign adventures.

Any legitimate argument for us being there—shattering the government that sheltered the 9/11 attackers and disrupting those attackers' network—have been over for a very long time. It's galling to realize we may leave a situation little better than the one we could have left a long time ago. But it's true—and sad and depressing is the price you pay for a horrible mistake. What we are up to there now has nothing to do with al Qaeda or preventing terror against our homeland, and it has very little to do with building a democratic and sane Afghanistan. The lesson we need to learn for the future is not how to manage these insurgent-fighting or nation-building affairs more intelligently, or brutally, or quickly; it's to not get involved in them at all.

Senior Editor Brian Doherty is author of Radicals for Capitalism (PublicAffairs) and the forthcoming Ron Paul's Revolution (Broadside).

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79 responses to “It's Never Too Early to Finally Leave Afghanistan

  1. That’s the British Army in your photo.

    1. Except, I’m off to the Falklands!

    2. You can tell because they look lost.

      1. It’s the use of forest green camouflage in the desert that proves their British.

        1. Reminds me of the last time I was in an Army-Navy Surlus and they had a bunch of Purple/white camo. I’m like that would be perfect if you’re battling it out in a lavender field.

        2. Early in the Iraqi and Afghan wars, the U.S. also was forced to use forest camo with some uniforms until ACU and then Multicam were developed.

          By the way, you can tell it’s the British because they are wearing Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM).

    3. That’s the British Army in your photo.

      Are you sure? I can’t see their teeth . . .

      1. They’re not wearing fancy red uniforms, so I’m going to have to call bullshit.

      2. “The original purpose of the Afghanistan war has long been fulfilled.”

        What? No, it’s like the “war on terror”, the purpose of funneling money to the war industries can never be “fulfilled”, only continued. And that, me hearties, is why that war isn’t over, and won’t be over until it has a suitable replacement. Might be Iran, might be Syria… might be something that isn’t so obvious. But it’ll be there, count on it. Because that’s what runs this country. Money flowing from citizen to government to corporations. All else is bread and circuses.

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      1. Are you enlisted in the British Army?

  2. With wars being fought overseas against people unable to actually harm our homeland, all paid for by borrowing money and with no military draft in force, it’s easy enough for the American people to just sigh and forget about it yell “USA! USA!”.

  3. “as Hastings concluded, having our troops leave any specific valley “is as meaningless as staying in those valleys?no impact on our national security or the stability in Afghanistan whatsoever.”

    Agreed. And after we leave, maybe we can stop setting up and maintaining bases all over the Middle East. Doesn’t anyone remember that the reason Bin Laden got so mad and left Saudi Arabia is because they allowed the US to set up bases there. This is FUBAR until we learn to stop befriending so called “allies”, who we will only use for the purpose of setting up military bases.

  4. OT: Fist, meet balls

    The agency projects that 30,000 drones could be in the nation’s skies by 2020.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com…..near-you/#

    1. Um, wondering how high they would be? Like could you dogfight them with one of those little remote planes?

    2. than we will fight in the shade
      Some Spartan guy

  5. How many have been there and tried this before?
    Russia, England, Germany, ….now us. When we leave it will turn back into a hell-hole full of savages squatting in the dirt just like it has always been. In 1000 years it will be indistinguishable from what itis now, which is indistinguishable from what it was 1000 years ago.
    We should haved gone in there and killed every Tali we saw and come home. The notion that we could build a ‘nation’ there is as ridiculous as thinking the golden gate bridge could be constructed from dog turds.

    1. Agreed Suthenboy… No one, since Alexander the Great, and likely before, has ever been able to have any effect on what goes on in Afganistan.

  6. At this point I would imagine the Taliban are pretty sick of fighting and dying too. They have a lot worse than we do. If the local Afghans, after 12 years, are still not strong enough to fight off the Taliban on their own, then that is kind of their fault.

    There is really only one question to be asked, if the US leaves and goes home will Afghanistan again be used as a staging ground for attacks against the United States. If the answer to that question is no, then we should leave now. But I don’t know what the answer to that question is.

    1. They’ve been fighting one way or another for decades, and they don’t seem to be all that tired of it. Once we pull out, it will likely become a terrorist training ground once again, once they’re finished with an all but certain civil war.

      As far as I’m concerned, we’ve sunk enough blood and treasure into that rathole. Let them slaughter each other.

      1. But if it becomes a terrorist training ground, we are forced to deal with it. If we could leave and let them fight it out without it becoming a training ground, I would be for leaving today.

        1. How long do you plan to fund a failed adventure?

          For terrorism, perhaps you should be more worried about AQ in Somalia or Yemen, than Afghanistan.

          If preventing terrorist training grounds is of great concern, perhaps we need a big tax increase to fund wars in every knuckleheaded country that can’t keep their own government running.

          The bottom line is the people of Afghanistan isn’t interested in what America is trying to do for them. We have it in our heads that they must become a unified nation. That’s something which they have no interest, expressed no interest, and demonstrated time and time again they are not interested.

          What we are doing is an exercise in insanity.

          These two articles explain it.

          http://armedforcesjournal.com/2012/02/8904030

          http://www.villagevoice.com/20…..-vacation/

        2. “There is really only one question to be asked, if the US leaves and goes home will Afghanistan again be used as a staging ground for attacks against the United States.

          This is where I’m a huge fan of “old-school” warmongering.

          Terrorists make/in the process of carrying out attacks on U.S. Soil.

          Have congress issue an ultimatum to the host country:
          You have 24 hours to release all information to U.S. intelligence services or sanctions will immediately placed.
          You have 72 hours to find them, or we will assume it to be an act of war and commence with repeated bombing of suspected hideouts. We’re waiting. And in case you don’t think we’re serious, we’re sending a couple carrier groups within missile range.

          It’d only take once.

          1. That’s the approach we took in 2001. Then mission creep set in.

          2. “Deliver to U.S. authorities all the leaders of Al Qaeda [terrorist organization] that hide in your land.

            “Release all foreign nationals including American citizens you have unjustly imprisoned.

            “Protect all journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country.

            “Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities.

            “Give the US full access to terrorist training camps so we make sure they are no longer operating.”

            Bush added the demands were not open to negotiation or discussion.
            “””””””””””””””””””

            http://articles.cnn.com/2001-0…..PM:asiapcf

            1. Fuck the going in on the ground shit, I mean. Make them bring the suspects to us. None of this looking for excuses to stay over there bullshit.

              1. Indiscriminate bombing. Sounds brutal, I know, but at some point, you have to hold the people of a region or country accountable for the hostile actions taken within them.
                “Like running water? Like not watching bombs fall on top of your schools and parks?
                Start cooperating and spill the beans. Put the onus on them, not us.

                1. Running water, that’s fucking funny.

                  They don’t care about running water, schools, or parks.

                  “””Fuck the going in on the ground shit,””

                  I’m with ya on that one.

                  What you do is strike the bases/training grounds as you find them. That’s the best you can do. If you don’t like 10 – ?? year quagmires.

                  1. Assuming they value plumbing, which would exclude most of the ME, of course.

                2. Sy,
                  So it’s the women and children’s fault they haven’t overthrown the warlords/mullahs/US-armed crazies?
                  You suck as a human being.

                  1. Emperor,
                    The hypothetical applies to a world in which the US hasn’t been involved in the first place; this isn’t exclusive to Afghan. I could give a shit less.
                    In any country, civilian populaces will have to be held accountable for the actions their government has taken in their names. Go cry your bleeding faggot heart to the 3k+ families that got fucked up a decade ago in NY.

            2. Surrender Dorithy

    2. It is a mistake to think that the Taliban are trying to dominate the locals in Afghanistan. The Taliban are the locals.

      The Taliban are essentially the warriors of the dominant pashtoon tribe.
      The people they are trying to grind into the dirt are all the other tribes. The ‘sharia’ that they are trying to force on everyone is essentially their own tribal customs.

    3. There will always be a cave somewhere in that dirt nothing territory that will be used by unsavory types to plan attacks against the US. Those caves are much nicer in China, Pakistan, et al.

    4. Afghanistan again be used as a staging ground for attacks against the United States

      Again? Are you still confused about who led and conducted the 9/11 operations? They weren’t Taliban, John.

  7. I had forgotten how many….

    Alexander the Great
    The Scythians
    The Huns
    Turks
    Arabs
    Persians
    Turks again
    Mongols
    Russia
    Britain
    Russia again

    Yep, none of them could do it, but we can cuz everybody loves America.

    1. Uh ATG won. Khandahar is named after him. He barrelled right through to India.

      1. He won the same way we have. He controlled whatever ground he happened to be looking at at the time. the instant he turned his back it belonged to the pashtoons. He left….they are still there.

        Speaking of which….I had a friend whose brother thought it would be a great idea to travel into the mountains in afghanistan to visit a tribe of blonde whites who were cut off from the rest of the world. They were descendants of Alexander’s army who stayed. They grew pot for a living so he thought it would be a dandy place to visit.
        If I remember right what my friend told me, they cut his head off five minutes after he hiked into the village.
        That was back in the mid-60’s.

        1. Alexander also married one of the tribal leader’s daughters.

        2. Worth the risk?

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new…..Great.html

          For centuries, the blond-haired, blue-eyed people of the Kalash tribes of North West Pakistan have lived a libertine lifestyle.

          1. The Taliban are fucking animals.

            1. No they’re not. The Taliban are the scum that scum scraps off it’s shoes.

            2. I remember a year or two after we went in there several hundred Taliban fighters were captured and imprisoned. After some dickering around we decided to let them go on the premise that they were not the leaders and had been pressed into service. they were just good ole regular guys who didnt have any choice and they would go home and not do it again.
              I remember thinking ‘ what the fuck???? Line them up and shoot the sorry bastards!”

              as soon as they got out of jail they stormed a local armory, armed themselves and took over the town. This has happened more than once I believe.

              Suthenboy’s strategy for victory in Afghanistan;

              Shoot all Taliban on sight. Ascertain what village each is from. Go to those villages and kill every single male in it.

              Find more Taliban, repeat as often as necessary.

              1. “Suthenboy’s strategy for victory in Afghanistan continuation of American intervention in a region that would otherwise leave us the fuck alone.

                1. I cant really disagree with the strategy that you set out above….but inevitably mission creep will set in and my strategy would need to be employed. By bringing the hammer down hard and decimating the pashtoons ( Taliban ) we would shorten the time required. It never should have taken more than a year.

                  The nation building business is crap, and where we got in trouble.

                  1. I’m not a big fan of systematic execution at close-range. Too personal. No demographic of the state responsible should be spared.

          2. Just now read that…..interesting. seems the world has finally come to them. Damn shame.
            Back in the sixties things were a bit different.
            As to the risk….let me tell you this story about the brother of a friend of mine…….

      2. And left with his tail between his legs.

    2. …actually, you’re close, but no cigar….The “The Scythians, The Huns
      and the Turks” are essentially all the same people and part and parcel of Afghanistan and greater Central Asia. There is no “Pashtun” and Tajik” ethnicity, for the real ethnic rivals have been the Arians and Turks, both of whom are assimilated as “Pashtuns” and “Tajiks” today, distinguishable only by language, with Farsi/Dari inherited from the Persians.

      In fact, the Arians and Turks were such rivals, that they fought each other all the way to Europe, with convenient alliances against common enemies just the same. For the idiots who enjoy describing the Afghans as “savages”, please be mindful that the Northern Europeans who really were “savages”, had been ruled and united by the Arian tribes descending as the “Alans” from the Caucuses. And the descendants of those people are the Ossetians who linguistically relate to Pashto, the language that in variable dialects once dominated ALL of Afghanistan.

      …oh and one more thing….the Afghans also annihilated the Arab Muslims, for Islam gradually took route across the country through Afghans from the Northern stretch of provinces who were empowered after Abu Muslim Khorasani – the northern Afghan general – spwaned the Abbasid Caliphate after overthrowing the Ummayads. That period was essentially the “golden age of Islam” by way of ideas and inventions.

      We Afghans know who we are and your collective ignorance that lends you to look down upon us only serves to hurt you alone. Just because we’re down in the dirt today does not mean we’ve lost sight of who we are as a people. Nor does the promise of “security” by an American force that unfortunately aligned itself for the most part with empowered post-Soviet rogues and bandits served you well.

      In my opinion you’ve two choices…allow Afghans to choose their own leaders and political system, while work with them to bring down the synthetic Pakistani state, or piss off forever and stop whining. Your lying leaders have for half a century been “strategicaly” aligning themselves with IslamoFascists from Egypt to Pakistan. The founding fathers of all these groups were spawned from Colonised nations and heavily influenced by the Leftist views on the state in Europe, rather than faith. To give you an example, the Mullahs in Islam are traditionally not empowered as in the church in Christendom. Now you’ve the audacity to lecture us about how uncivilized we are, when in Afghanistan the Mullah’s place was in the mosque and limited to maintaining it and helping people with prayers, NOT POLITICS. Now, thanks to the British invented Pakistani state and an American alliance with them, the Afghan people are leftt to deal with a murderous religious movement.

      Start talking like adults and address the real threats eminating from Pakistan and perhaps we’ll get somewhere. You can start with discussing an American recognition of the Afghan right to lost territories north of the Indus and you’ll soon find out what a motivated and united armed Afghan army will look like. All Afghans can be America’s trusted friends, if only you’d let them!

      1. “In my opinion you’ve two choices…allow Afghans to choose their own leaders and political system, while work with them to bring down the synthetic Pakistani state, or piss off forever and stop whining.”

        The second option sounds just fine.
        As far as I can tell, you’re ‘down in the dirt’ (as you mention), since you seem to find that preferable to, oh, say, a Big Mac, and you’re welcome to stay that way as long as you please.

        1. “Big Mac”? Yep, evidently enough this is the kind of response one would expect from a mental-midget…no problem, just piss off and stop whining.

      2. All Afghans can be America’s trusted friends, if only you’d let them!

        I’m sure you would all be just as reliable an ally as your next door neighbors.

        1. So long as the US armed them to fight the n-d-ns!

        2. You’re obviously too ignorant about the region to qualify for attention. This wouldn’t be a problem if only your leaders were any better, but they’re obviously not. So go with your strength!

  8. It’s a fool’s game, period. My 22 year old son is a sergeant in the Marine Corps, and a veteran of two deployments to Afghanistan. Since childhood his favorite movie has been The Man Who Would Be King, and he approached his first deployment with equal parts cynicism and curious anticipation; by the second trip, it was cynicism all the way. In his considered opinion, since the knowledge that trying to pacify Afghanistan bankrupted the USSR hasn’t been enough to deter US policy makers, perhaps forced round-the-clock screenings of said movie should be implemented.

    In other news, he says any Afghan civilian he’s ever asked, including children as young as 8 or 10, happily point out that occupying Afghanistan won’t deter the Taliban, because they’re in Pakistan.

  9. Before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan the place actually not a Taliban hell, believe it or not but things like discos existed there. Making the land a cold war battleground and then making it a battleground against terror, it is not surprising the land now is dominated by the fighters.

    Afghanistan is a good example not to interfere in other countries. Somewhere in Afghanistan there are probably more Bin Ladens planning even bigger attacks against America, if reasonable minds had prevailed many pointless deaths would have been saved in the past and the future.

    1. But…why oh why did the soviets invade? Didnt they have their own discos?

      1. In Soviet Afghanistan, duck discos you!

    2. Before the Soviet invasion, Afghans were a self-liberalizing, outward looking people. In places like Helmand, people were growing grapes and producing fine wines. The President of the Afghan Republic was a devout Muslim and never touched a drop of liquor, but he observed people’s liberties to do so without question. As Prime Minister during the Monarchy, he and his wife also ensured to provide the kind of leadership that enabled the women of Afghansitan to choose what they wore and how they conducted themselves. They were not only graduating from University, but increasingly participating in business and politics. All this was taking place by Afghans and for Afghans, rather than under the watchful eye of self-imposed foreign patriarchs. The Afghanistan we’ve inherited today is not just abominal to the self-serving moralist in the US, but it is just that to any Afghan who remembers where they were over three decades back.

      With the overthrow of the Taliban, a great opportunity offered itself for the American government to allow for the return of the former Monarch who was was widely respected and ready to oversee a transitionary government. Yet inspite of three fourths of the Bonne delegates demanding precisely this, the US officials strong-armed their way into supporting an unknown useful idiot like Karzai to take the mantle in an American created “Democracy”. Naturally, when you deny a people their own right to choose and govern as they please, you subsequently offer yourselves as their vanguards. America’s self-imposed patronage over Afghanistan began from the onset. Given this, it’s outright dispicable, shameless and gutless for any American to place any blame for the current mess in Afghanistan. More importantly, that the real enemy has always been the Paksitani state, the US government revealed pure cowardice and indecisiveness by kissing their collective butt.

      So pretty please Americans, try and be adult enough to take ownership for your own failures. Given that you’ve neither the collective will nor the courage to correct what you’ve done, simply piss off from the region and cease with your endless interventions from the entire planet Earth. At least Ron Paul is honest, decent, and intelligent enough to know what he’s talking about. He is way ahead of the average American. Most Afghans would like to see an ongoing US intervention, but only limited to support form the periphery and with a watchful eye on Iran and Pakistan. One would think this to qualify as a shared interest.

  10. After watching Restrepo the other night I don’t understand how anyone can honestly think that we are doing much more than offering cannon fodder for the local Taliban in the area. I agree that disrupting Al Qaeda activities is the casus belli, but whatever success we had with that is long past.

    I’ve had conversations with friends who served over there and none of them ever thought we would be able to turn Afghanistan in to something other than what it has always been.

  11. many American big thinkers and military strategists feel aggrieved by the Afghans’ “failure” to rise to the occasion

    If ever a platoon of Marines feel the urge to piss on some bodies, I strongly suggest it be these. I’d pay to see Brooks, Kristof and the rest of that effette neo-con gang getting a yellow shower.

    1. The best punishment would be send all the “policy makers” to the front lines.

    2. The best punishment would be to send all the “policy makers” to the front lines.

    3. Yeah….that ‘afghans failure to rise to the occasion….’ had me rolling on the floor.

      How could anyone be that fucking stupid and still know how to breath?

  12. This has been a long time coming. Bush screwed it up when he decided to stay and build a democracy in 2004 instead of just declaring victory and going home.

    Obama decided to double down on that idiocy. More troops with no real objectives, turning a blind eye to the blatant corruption of the Karzai clan, and restrictive rules that get more troops killed.

    The objective of the Infantry is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver. Not to babysit stone-age villagers until they become western social democrats.

  13. What’s the “big picture” element that no one is mentioning? Its that we need to have 50000 troops in the neighborhood ( see Camp Leatherneck’s 30000 acres) for when the Pakistan Taliban take over the crumbling Pakistan government and get their hands on the nukes… we need to be there cause it will be too hard to try to move 5 divisions in after the fact…Afghanistan at this point is all about preparing for Paki nukes…

    1. Uh… You should look at a map. Our supply lines go THROUGH Pakistan. If for some reason, we decided to try this whole clusterfuck over again, we would be better off without 50,000 troops stuck in Afghanistan cut off from supply lines.

      2 Marine Divisions could kick in the door on Pakistan and secure all the airfields and docks necessary for another pointless adventure.

      I vote for using our own nukes if we really have to do something about Pak nukes. Or just give the Indians the green light.

      1. Or just give the Indians the green light.

        That is the correct answer.

        1. That indeed is the correct answer. Let the Indian subcontinent take care of itself. India has a lot more cannon fodder than we do.

          1. The Indians are too smart to commit to the full nation-building nonsense. They would just destroy the nukes, kill some bad guys, and tell everyone else to stay the fuck away from their borders.

            Pretty much what we should have done in Afghanistan (and everyone thought we were doing the first year).

      2. @ Old Soldier ….I opt that you take ownership of the war and nuke Pakistan to smitherenes yourselves. That would at least send a clear message to all aspiring nuclear tyrannies. Best of all, Afghanistan will see the light of day.

    2. “Afghanistan at this point is all about preparing for Paki nukes…”

      Aimed at? Delivered by?
      Seems there are at least two states (India and Israel) that are far closer and have far more interest and ability to get involved in the matter.
      I’m tired of paying for the world’s police force; let some of those with a real interest do so. The Euros included.

  14. “After a long propaganda campaign, 54 percent of Americans seem ready to accept a new war in Iran, and Syria may be on our agenda as well.”

    Which just goes to show you that at least 54% of Americans are borderline retarded. Exhibits A and B: John and Suthenboy.

  15. Actually they will leave when they are forced as we will prefer that killings stop.We don,t the goals of america except to kill innocent people around the world.
    People are powerless against super power. There is no justification of Irak, Afghanistan attacks even against Nurnber trial in which agression has been declared an offence and will be tried in court. These principles were declared by america and constantly violating these commitments.

  16. We still need to demand the heads of our guys responsible for this disaster: mil. AND civ. Who said, “Wait! Before we get bin Laden, let’s bounce the Taliban; & by all means, get Mr. Karzai into office! & COIN; yeah, let’s get that!”? & Who agreed?

  17. Yes, after 9/11 we should have picked a couple of plausible targets (Afghanistan and Iraq certainly qualified), whacked their governments, said “This is what happens when you let your radicals annoy us”, and left.

    We probably would have wanted to pick another target sometime around 2006. Syria or Iran. NOT the Saudis; we don’t WANT Mecca.

    Unfortunately we aren’t hard hearted or selfish enough. So we stayed to ‘nation build’.; a halfway position between ‘let them run themselves’ and ‘colonialism’ calculated to please nobody.

  18. We have to disrupt the command and control operations in Afghanistan – otherwise their carrier battle groups with destroyer and submarine escorts, and long range cruise missile and drone attack capability, as well as their tremendous airlift capability would doom us….
    Whats that? It was a few guys who bought airline tickets, got on planes, and steered our own planes into buildings!?
    Phshaw!!! Because if that was the case it would make no sense, as well as being totally ineffective, to spend billions upon billions to fight people who can only attack us by flying to our country…and uh….buying more tickets to fly on airplanes to attack us….
    Nah. They must have a tremendous advanced carrier fleet!

  19. The stated purpose of removing Al Qaeda is accomplished. The actual purpose of hegemony is not yet finished.

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