Afghanistan

Afghanistan: When Will the U.S. Admit It's Time to Come Home?

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James Joyner at National Interest lays out why it really finally ought to be over for the U.S. in Afghanistan:

Following the murder of six NATO troops in yet another "green on blue" attack in which Afghan soldiers supposedly fighting on our side killed NATO troops, the coalition has all but ended combined operations with Afghan army and police forces at the tactical level, requiring general officer approval for exceptions.

While spokesmen insisted that "we're not walking away" from the training and advisory mission that is the ostensible reason for continued Western presence in Afghanistan eleven years into the fight there, that statement rings hollow. As American Security Project Central and South Asia specialist Joshua Foust puts it, "The training mission is the foundation of the current strategy. Without that mission, the strategy collapses. The war is adrift, and it's hard to see how anyone can avoid a complete disaster at this point."

Three years after doubling down on an unachievable mission, trust between NATO and Afghan forces is at an all-time low. Already this year, there have been thirty-six of these insider attacks,killing fifty-one NATO troops, most of them Americans…..

Joyner ends raising the interesting political question: why the heck isn't this debacle an issue in the presidential election? Well, because when it comes to foreign policy there's barely a drone's worth of difference between the two parties, of course.

My short interview with Michael Hastings, author of The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan, the story of our out-of-control Afghan military operation, from our June 2012 issue. Hastings told me:

But you sit down with McChrystal or any of the top guys who supported nation building and ask them: There's not popular support and there's not political support, and we don't speak the language, and Afghans don't want our culture for the most part, and the terrorists we are after are not there, and yet you propose we spend more billions and years? I will never understand that. 

I think the answer is more inertia-based thinking than rigorous intellectual analysis, because any such analysis involving Afghanistan would tell you to get the fuck out and not have anything to do with that country.

As I wrote back in February, "It's Never too Early to Finally Leave Afghanistan."

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  1. I’m surprised that Obama isn’t doing a campaign video where he talks on the phone to Ahmad the dead terrorist hinting that we will leave if Obama gets a second term. Plus Ahmad is dead so he can vote.

  2. “I think the answer is more inertia-based thinking”

    Yes.

  3. Because spending billions of dollars that aren’t yours and sending men to die who aren’t you is easier for politicians than putting yourself in a position where someone might say you lost a war.

    1. Fluffy, do you work for the DoD?

      Pentagon Wars people. It wasn’t a comedy starring Kelsey Grammer.

  4. Back in 2004 when I look through the Campaign Plan for the 25th ID’s turn through Afghanistan, it had a good central idea, followed up with several hundred pages of NOT how we would get ‘er done, but simply what we would DO whilst there… Were I a more foresighted man, I would have taken that for an “uh-oh” moment, 8 years ahead of serious uh-oh time.

  5. Didn’t you get the memo? We don’t end wars anymore; we let them peter out after we get tired of them.

  6. “When Will the U.S. Admit It’s Time to Come Home?”

    I’m hoping for 2004.

  7. I think the answer is more inertia-based thinking than rigorous intellectual analysis, because any such analysis involving Afghanistan would tell you to get the fuck out and not have anything to do with that country.

    Didn’t we teach the USSR that lesson in 1988? There is literally NOTHING in Afghanistan worth anything. We played whack-a-mole with al-queda and got a whole bunch of US troops maimed and killed for it. The country is still an undemocratic shithole. Atleast Iraq had a semblence of a return (unrealized because we suck at colonialism now).

    1. Supposedly there are a bunch of minerals that would be nice to mine.

      1. Spoonman.| 9.19.12 @ 4:22PM |#

        Supposedly there are a bunch of minerals that would be nice to mine.

        Good luck with that.

        Do you know the story of the Unocal pipeline? That was the last time anyone actually tried doing anything productive in that country other than grow dope.

  8. any such analysis involving Afghanistan would tell you to get the fuck out and not have anything to do with that country

    Christ, you could gather that much reading Churchill’s The Story of the Malakand Field Force(1898)

    …Although that’s not what Winston wanted you to take away from it. His job was to *market* imperialism 🙂 But reading the book (link below, free online), he repeatedly goes over the key characteristics of the Afghan/Pashto region and people, and concludes that it was unlikely anything like what he called ‘civilization’ would function there.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/9404

    The inhabitants of these wild but wealthy valleys are of many tribes, but of similar character and condition. The abundant crops which a warm sun and copious rains raise from a fertile soil, support a numerous population in a state of warlike leisure. Except at the times of sowing and of harvest, a continual state of feud and strife prevails throughout the land. Tribe wars with tribe. The people of one valley fight with those of the next. To the quarrels of communities are added the combats of individuals. Khan assails khan, each supported by his retainers. Every tribesman has a blood feud with his neighbor. Every man’s hand is against the other, and all against the stranger.

    Winston had chops.

    But, yeah… Why we didn’t bug out immediately after Osama was aced is beyond me. At least the optics were right for it.

  9. Further proof that the Pax Americana is an act of folly. Any study of imperialism should demonstrate that the Empire is rarely, if ever, served by arming the natives.

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