Afghanistan

Our Wasted Effort in Afghanistan

We should acknowledge that there are some things even the world's sole superpower can't do, and fixing Afghanistan is one of them.

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The United States government and the Taliban don't agree on much, but they have found one point of convergence: Both think someone needs to get a hose and put out the flames engulfing Hamid Karzai's pants.

The Afghan president has often criticized the Americans for carrying out drone strikes that kill innocent bystanders. But over the past year or so he has started blaming us for things we didn't even do. He has gone from understandably prickly to irrationally hysterical.

Last month, he welcomed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Kabul by publicly accusing the U.S. of collaborating with the Taliban in bombings that killed 17 people. "Those bombs that went off in Kabul and Khost were not a show of force to America," he announced. "They were in service of America."

His latest claim goes further, accusing the U.S. of actually mounting insurgent-like attacks against his forces. "Karzai has formalized his suspicions with a list of dozens of attacks that he believes the U.S. government may have been involved in," reported The Washington Post. "The list even includes the recent bomb and gun assault on a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, one of the bloodiest acts targeting the international community in Afghanistan."

American commander Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. called the charge "ludicrous." We have to assume that Dunford coordinated his response with Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, who said the group has taken credit for many of the incidents because "those are attacks that have genuinely been carried out by our forces."

In Karzai's mind, Barack Obama has obvious motives for this brazen treachery. One, relayed to the Post by an anonymous Karzai aide, is distracting everyone from the civilians killed in American air strikes. Another is undermining Karzai because he is too protective of his people.

Then there is the most powerful of all: our desire "to keep foreigners longer in Afghanistan," as Karzai puts it. He evidently is laboring under the misimpression that we have sacrificed more than 2,000 lives and vast sums of money because we enjoy occupying a poor, inhospitable, violence-prone country with which we have almost nothing in common.

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, Obama saluted Army Sgt. Cory Remsburg, who "was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan." But, the president noted, "he's learned to speak again and stand again and walk again—and he's working toward the day when he can serve his country again."

If so, we can hope his country will find better purposes than propping up a regime headed by someone who sounds as hostile and extreme as our declared enemies in Afghanistan.

Remsburg's sacrifices were made in support of an ally that tied for the most corrupt on Earth in Transparency International's latest rankings. A new report by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, The New York Times said, warns against continuing to provide hundreds of millions of dollars a year in development support when "none of the 16 Afghan ministries could be counted on to keep the funds from being stolen or wasted."

It's hard to see the value of our mission there when our partners are so impervious to our best efforts. The Special Inspector General reported that we have gotten a pitiful return on a $200 million literacy program for the Afghan army. The exceedingly modest goal—getting all of the Afghan soldiers to read at a first-grade level and half of them to read at a third-grade level—turns out to be "unrealistic" and "unattainable."

Just inducing the soldiers to stick around is often impossible. Their current attrition rate is between 30 and 50 percent. The Afghan army "is actually far from ready for transition at the end of 2014," warned Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington last year. The national police, he concluded, are worse.

With the best of Afghan leaders, it would be hard to overcome all these deficits. Instead, Afghans as well as Americans are stuck with Karzai, who negotiated a deal to keep some U.S. forces in the country after this year but has refused to sign it. The longer he waits the harder it will be to make the arrangements so we can stay, laboring to turn failure into success.

Here's another option: We could acknowledge that there are some things even the world's sole superpower can't do, and fixing Afghanistan is one of them.

NEXT: Brickbat: Which One Is Crazy?

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  1. It’s almost as though we couldn’t change a culture in a short time just by throwing money and troops at it. But I guess that’s just racist silly talk, isn’t it?

    1. What? You don’t believe in ‘nation-building’? I mean, it totally worked in Japan and Germany, those places were simply a collection of mountain clans until the Marshal Plan and MacArthur turned them into nations. Read some history!

      1. This has been the warped progressive legacy of the Marshall Plan. It worked for those advanced societies, so obviously, since all people and societies are equal in all ways, it will work in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, etc.

    2. We can’t just leave.

      We have to keep wars going in perpetuity so that we can be just like 1984.

      Its the best way to distract and unite the American retards.

  2. lol, US politics. Best politics money can buy!

    http://www.Anon-Works.com

  3. Helping doesn’t help. Especially at the point of a gun.

    1. If we don’t help them by killing them randomly, how will they feed themselves?

  4. Given that ‘it’s hard to see the value of our mission there when our partners are so impervious to our best efforts’ is it any wonder that one would think that ‘we have sacrificed more than 2,000 lives and vast sums of money because we enjoy occupying a poor, inhospitable, violence-prone country with which we have almost nothing in common.’ Is there some other believable explanation for our continued presence?

    1. Is there some other believable explanation for our continued presence?

      The alternative is to admit to making a mistake, and our government simply will not do that under any circumstances.

      1. The initial mission was in response to 9/11 because a lot of al Qaida was squirreled in the mountains there. That worked.

        What was followed was foreseeable – the never-ending effort to make some shithole into our image, or a version of our image. No; go blow up the bad guys and get the hell out. Afghanistan has no desire to modernize but Top Men have difficulty grasping that.

        1. There’s a ton of money being made by retired generals and admirals who run defense contracting businesses.

          1. And politicians.

        2. IIRC the idea was to set up a democracy there as an example to other nations in the region. Fairly quixotic I would say. It would seem that going in, trashing the Taliban Regime in a couple of weeks then getting out would have sent a pretty powerful message.

          1. Ten years of Soviet blundering, followed by almost 15 years of American blunders, has done more to positively build the morale of the worldwide jihadi movement than any other geopolitical event in the Muslim world.

          2. I agree.

          3. “IIRC the idea was to set up a democracy there as an example to other nations in the region”

            the fact you can’t remember is a sign the thing was never clearly thought out in the first place.

            for the record, there was never any significant pro-democratization master plan in Afghanistan.

            (you might recall plan#1, which considered re-importing the exiled King Zahir Shah to negotiate a truce between pro-Taliban elements and the warlord-armies, and impose some ‘good enough’ status quo which would prevent for the return of al Qaeda elements)

            http://edition.cnn.com/2001/WO……alliance/

            when that shifted to Karzai as the ‘best option’, it quickly became apparent that the south (helmand) was not going to play along in any near term timeline. (we originally stuffed the brits in there and hoped they’d ‘mop it up’; it got steadily worse)

            Basically, the ‘plan’ in Afghanistan has changed year after year. increasingly it became about finding ways to ‘not appear to lose’ than achieving any lasting strategic gains.

            Forget democracy. Jesus, they’ve been struggling to just keep the ANA from getting stoned, raping children, shooting each other, and robbing everyone the second anyone turns their back. And if you think that’s bad? The Afghan National Police are WORSE.

            http://www.rawa.org/temp/runew…..oxfam.html

            1. “Forget democracy. Jesus, they’ve been struggling to just keep the ANA from getting stoned, raping children, shooting each other, and robbing everyone the second anyone turns their back. And if you think that’s bad? The Afghan National Police are WORSE.”

              and if you think thats bad you best stay out of the DC circus

    2. According to progressives – including our resident ones, shriek and Tony – we’re only still there because Obama doesn’t want the Republicans to say mean things about him.

      1. That sounds like a good reason for people to die.

        1. For shreek and Tony it’s the very best of reasons.

        2. That reason has probably caused a lot of deaths over the years. TOP.MEN.

          1. Barack had to kill off a couple thousand likely Republican voters (soldiers) to show the Generals who is boss…I’m not seeing any negative for Barack.

  5. I am shocked, shocked that foreigners could not go into Afghanistan and transform it into a new nation without knowing the language, culture, religion, politics, economy, and do it with people who were rotated in and out in a year or less all the while trying to build an Afghan government and military which costs more then the entire Afghan economy can produce.

    1. Brits learned the same thing in the 19th century. Whenever they tried to – only – pacify the Northwest frontier, they were pretty successful. But, if they tried to occupy it, negotiate with rulers to change their ways, etc., they got their clocks cleaned (some minor exceptions on either side of that statement but that was the general rule).

      1. Which is why the Brits usually defaulted to the ‘Punitive Expedition’ option on most cases – if they act up, break all their shit, kill all their leaders, and then leave with the warning they would be back to do it all over if they acted up again.

          1. Warty approves.

  6. *Jumps up from seat and gives thunderous applause*

  7. Turned the game off last night after the half-time show. I see that was a great call. What a pitiful superbowl.

    1. Some comedian (?) tweeted last night:

      “What did you do after the Superbowl was over? Watched the second half.”

      1. Yeah, Denver looked awful from play #1 and they never recovered. Seattle tore them apart.

    2. I don’t enjoy watching football, but as my house is broken I’m at my in-laws, and my wife’s father was watching the game. At some point I was walking around with the baby to keep her happy and I saw a Denver guy, probably their quarterback, throw the ball at like five guys in blue.

  8. But they all had purple fingers in Iraq so we were successful there! Conservatives kept telling me that 2004-08.

    1. IT’S OBAMA’S WAR NOW FOX NEWS TOLD ME AND I BELIEVE THEM

      1. Serious dialog, Mary.

    1. In soviet Russia, school um….something something…..YOU!

      I got nothing.

    2. You can’t talk about gunmen who are neutralized. Especially in countries where there’s no RKBA. Duh!

    3. Russia needs to pass more laws and to stop going overboard in protecting outdated notions of individual freedom.

    4. Quick! Have ABC hype another hysterical special like Young Guns for 2 weeks during prime time.

    5. “If you don’t like my hair, stay away from my vagina”

      This reminds me of the old joke:

      What is ‘disgusting’?

      When a midget walks up to you and tells you that your hair smells nice.

      1. He/she could be referring to backhair . . .

  9. We invaded the Stone Age and the stones won.

    1. Dont bring a tank to a rock fight…
      it sounds good on paper, but apparently doesn’t work when your enemy lives in mountains and waits til you enter said mountains to engage your forces at superior elevation, that have adapted to the bitter cold and saw you coming from miles away.

  10. The last war the United States won anywhere in Asia was World War Two. Korea (1950-1953) ended in a truce, with the United States and South Korea able to hold only the same real estate they had before 1950.

    Then there is Afghanistan where the British got their rear ends kicked at list three times by tribesmen in the 19th Century, and Russia (Soviet Union) was mauled after ten years in that arm pit during the 1980s. All of which shows that if Americans remembered anything about history (which they don’t), we might never have gone there or a few other places to begin with. But Americans who have contempt for any lessons of history can’t remember what happened two weeks ago, except of course for some football scores.

    With that said, Americans need to honor and take care of our Armed Forces, and who had to pay the price (in dead and maimed) as a result of a lot of a–hole politicians, most of who have never served a second in any of our Armed Forces. And don’t forget that the good men and women of our Armed Forces were originally ordered to places like Iraq (2003) and Afghanistan (as a result of 9/11) by at least one politician power broker who legally dodged the Vietnam draft so he could work on his PhD. The man must have figured he was a f—ing military genius.

    1. They shouldn’t have signed up to join those “politician a-hole” kill squads and they wouldn’t be paying that price. In Vietnam, there was a draft which is a whole new level of immoral.

      1. The premise of your non argument is that any American who joined the Armed Forces of the United States of America to serve for whatever reason deserves what they get simply because they signed up.

        My premise is that (drafted or enlisted) ALL of our Armed Forces who were ordered to go in harm’s way should be honored and supported regardless of the motives (and stupidity) of some probably cowardly politicians who sent them to this and that stink hole for whatever reasons. This includes the outcome win or lose.

        Start reading up on your Smedley Butler so you can tell the difference between real heroes and a bunch of asshole politicians.

        1. Thanks for clearing that up for him, too bad more people don’t know the legend of Gen. Smedley Butler there would be a hell of alot less Obamaphiles and Progderps to deal with.

  11. How often do Afghan soldiers need to follow written instructions? For that matter, how often do Afghan hounds need to follow written instructions?

    1. So they don’t blow up the “armory” when donning their vests

  12. We could acknowledge that there are some things even the world’s sole superpower territorial monopolies of aggression can’t do, and fixing Afghanistan[INSERT SOCIETY] is one of them.

  13. He evidently is laboring under the misimpression that we have sacrificed more than 2,000 lives and vast sums of money because we enjoy occupying a poor, inhospitable, violence-prone country with which we have almost nothing in common.

    We have more in common with the people in Afghanistan than we do with the people we elect to lead this country.

    That’s why the ruling class spends so much time trying to pretend that they understand and relate to people in general.

    1. So what is it exactly that we have in common with the peoples of Afghanistan, aside from our shared humanity?

      1. I think he means that we the little people of the USA have more in common with the little people of Afghanistan than either of us have with the ruling classes of both countries.

      2. we Both want to tell the government to eat a bag of dicks and leave us the hell alone and stop ruining our lives by trying to force Their way of life upon us, we all live in a dictatorship run by warlords, our governments are equally corrupt, the list goes on.

  14. The last line of this article should have been written 13 years ago, by a writer who had some awareness of both Afghanistan’s and the US’s history. Afghanistan has been a graveyard for outside powers for centuries. The US had stumbled over the realities of invading foreign nations in Korea and Vietnam. The home team, aka the “insurgents” have all the advantages. They know the language and the territory, they can take out multimillion dollar aircraft and tanks with relatively inexpensive missiles and IEDs, they have the support of much of the local population because the local leaders we support are usually “authoritarian” and corrupt, and they know that if they wait the US out, eventually our willingness to wage the invasion will waver and end. This was all obvious before Bush ever announced his war on terror. Some of us said it at the time and have been saying it ever since. See the archive on straightlinelogic.com.

    1. The mention of Bush reminds me that the process of evolution (real and imagined) does not always lead to the improvement of the species.

    2. All of this is tied to a single major failed concept. We have attempted to change war froma blunt instrument to a surgical scalpel.

      We win wars, when we kill people and break things to the point the remaining people surrender.

      We lose wars, when we imagine that all this folks would really love us if only we could get rid of those few bad apples.

      I have listened to folks moan and complain about our use of atomic bombs on Japan to end WWII. In fact, the use was entirely consistent with the basic concept of war … make the other guy surrender at the lowest cost to you.

      The fact is, it would have made much more sense, and been far more successful, to have used tactical nukes to obliterate the Taliban, the cities and villiages they housed in, and left glass as a reminder.

      But of course, we can’t do that, or anything close because “innocents would be killed!”. And here we are, still unable to leave with the insurgents subdued because while THEY engage in war, WE play militarized police.

      I know, I know, “but they are savages and we are enlightened”. The fact is, either it is a sufficient threat to use overwhelming force and crushing death and destruction, or we should stay home. What we currently do is less than useless.

  15. my buddy’s aunt makes $66 an hour on the internet . She has been fired for six months but last month her payment was $15780 just working on the internet for a few hours. go now……
    http://www.Jobs84.com

  16. we shoulda left once we finished blowing up Al quaeda and screwed the whole rebuilding thing.

  17. If we were ruthless enough, and willing to spend enough we could fix Afghanistan. Neither is true though.

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