Barack Obama

Is the War in Afghanistan Coming to an End?

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President Obama visited Afghanistan over the Memorial Day weekend, pledging that "our war in Afghanistan will finally come to an end." America's war in Afghanistan began with Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7, 2001, and at more than 13 and a half years is America's longest war.

The authority to wage the war was drawn from the Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that Congress passed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. About a year later, the Bush Administration sought, and received, a second AUMF to wage a war in Iraq. Since then, however, American counterterrorism operations have been dovetailed into the 2001 AUMF not just in Afghanistan and next-door Pakistan but around the world. As Gene Healy notes here at Reason.com today, the Obama Administration does not seem all that interested in repealing, or even "refining," the AUMF like President Obama promised to do last year. It shouldn't come as a surprise.

Although the last of U.S. combat troops were pulled out of Iraq in December 2011, a bill to repeal the Iraq AUMF—which enjoys the nominal support of the Obama Administration—was only introduced in the Senate this January, and has not yet been considered by committee. And just as President Obama tried to postpone the end of the Iraq war by insisting on a residual force of 10,000 troops, he is hoping to keep a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan past the end of the year, despite his declaration that the war in Afghanistan is ending. 

"America's commitment to the people of Afghanistan will endure," Obama said in a speech at Bagram Air Force Base. "With our strategic partnership, we'll continue to stand with Afghans as they strengthen their institutions, as they build their economy, as they improve their lives."

The president also pointed to the "bilateral security agreement," an agreement worked out in principle earlier this year that the outgoing Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has nevertheless left up to his successor to decide to sign. Both of the candidates vying in next month's run-off say they support the agreement which, according to President Obama, would allow the U.S. to "plan for a limited military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014."

The U.S. war in Vietnam, America's next longest conflict, didn't end until Congress passed with a veto-proof majority a law prohibiting military operations in 1973. Until then, President Nixon had insisted the war was ending under the Nixon Doctrine and "Vietnamization," wherein the U.S. would hand security responsibilities in South Vietnam to the government there, similar to what President Obama envisions for Afghanistan after 2014.

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  1. OT: http://freethoughtblogs.com/ph…..st-at-all/

    I actually think Myers’ criticism is valid. I can’t see how Hayek’s views are defensible.

    However, I wouldn’t venture into the comments.

    1. Is Hayek’s statement about race or about culture?

      1. Fair question.

        Is it racial prejudice if Hayek had said he didn’t trust Bible Belt Christians because he thought they were incredibly dishonest?

        1. notsureifserious

        2. I never had a Bible Belt Christian student that I caught cheating. Nor Mormons.

          Iranians, 100%; I never had one that didn’t blatantly cheat. Racism? No, but I certainly learned a prejudice against that culture during my teaching years that I hadn’t had previously. This was pre-revolution, FWIW, I have no idea if this is still part of the culture of the students who come here from Iran.

          No experience with Bengali students, but I have a Gujarati guy working for me now who is brilliant and painfully honest. That prejudices me the other way, I suppose.

    2. If Hayek’s racial prejudices invalidate his research, does Richard Feynman’s womanizing invalidate his research?

      Or is it more fair to conclude that a number of Nobel laureates had some serious personal flaws?

      1. The important thing is to remember no progressive thinker ever in the history of progressive thinking has ever said anything even remotely racist. And if you disagree you’re worse than that right-wing extremist Hitler.

        1. Considering that there’s a political movement today which is almost entirely about improving society by creating better people through ‘nudging’ them towards better behavior…

        2. I always thought it was funny that people on the left cry racism whenever someone doesn’t want to give special favors to those darned inferiors.

    3. Actually, I think Hayek’s view is defensible if you view it from the lens of cultural propensity for cheating.

      When I was a college professor, I observed that middle-eastern students really liked to cheat if given the chance. I had to really crack down and send stern warnings to keep them in line.

      It wasn’t the ethnicity – americanized kids from middle-eastern ancestry were not distinguishable from the rest of the kids growing up here. It was the kids coming from overseas to study.

      Some cultures don’t have a problem with dishonesty and cheating to get ahead. And so the people coming from those cultures behave in ways that offend people coming from cultures that do view it as a moral failing.

      1. I suppose it’s also defensible to say that Christians from the southern United States in the 1930s were incredibly ignorant because of the cultural banishing of modern science.

        I’m not sure it’s rational. But I know of a number of early 20th century scientists who expressed dislike for southern Americans over cultural differences with regards to modern science.

        1. How much of science did that affect?

      2. Cheating members of your own tribe is bad.

        Cheating members of other tribes is encouraged.

      3. It wasn’t the ethnicity – americanized kids from middle-eastern ancestry were not distinguishable from the rest of the kids growing up here. It was the kids coming from overseas to study.

        Bingo. See my post above.

    4. So far as I do feel hostile to religion, it’s against monotheistic religions, because they are so frightfully intolerant. All monotheistic religions are intolerant and try to enforce their particular creed.

      Yeah, typical left-wing nutjob. Oh wait, that was Hayek, my bad.

    5. Since the groups, “cultures”, if you will aren’t races, I guess he isn’t racist.

    6. Weren’t the people against whom he was prejudiced…Aryans by some definitions?

    7. The interviewer asked Hayek about ” people you dislike or can’t deal with”…you know, people you find annoying.

      1. “People who annoy you”.

    8. Whew, I’m glad he was able to get a Nazi comparison in there. You stay classy, PZ.

      Hayek had bad experiences with Indians and Egyptians. I don’t see how that makes him a racist in any note-worthy sense. Maybe it was a racial prejudice, but I think you need more than one interview of an 80 year old man to make that conclusion.

  2. Sorry for the OT.

    Anyway. I forgot we were still in Afghanistan.

  3. The U.S. war in Vietnam, America’s next longest conflict, didn’t end until Congress passed with a veto-proof majority a law prohibiting military operations in 1973. Until then, President Nixon had insisted the war was ending under the Nixon Doctrine and “Vietnamization,” wherein the U.S. would hand security responsibilities in South Vietnam to the government there, similar to what President Obama envisions for Afghanistan after 2014.

    The waning years of the Vietnam War don’t get enough attention in our history books.

    Most discussions on the topic of the VW usually climax with the Tet Offensive. They seem to forget that the war lasted another 5 years.

    1. “Most discussions on the topic of the VW usually climax with the Tet Offensive. They seem to forget that the war lasted another 5 years.”

      And Obo admits we will have a ‘military presence’ in Afghanistan. So tell me, does it take a certain threshold of deaths to qualify as a “war”?

      1. It will be downgraded to kinetic military action from behind.

        But seriously, we’ll have some SF guys with Intel and other assorted support functions. Kind of like in Yemen and other places in the Horn of Africa. It will be generally ignored in the press until the Taliban bombs a hospital and restaurant frequented by Westerners.

    2. Much of Vietnam is forgotten. LBJ doesn’t get anywhere near enough blame. He totally ignored the Pentagon when he started the war, then put an incompetent in charge (Westmoreland).

      Creighton Abrams turned the mess around and basically won the war by ’71. But the war had become so politicized, that Congress wasn’t willing to spend the money to do what we are attempting to do in Afghanistan and Iraq – leave behind a stable government that can defend itself.

      Instead they pulled the plug quick and let South Vietnam go down hard.

      1. That is always been the problem, we built a modern Afghan military but the Afghans don’t have a modern economy to support it, so as soon as the outside money dries up, the Afghan army dries up

        It happened in Vietnam, it happened in Afghanistan when the Soviet money dried up and it will happen in Afghanistan again when US money dries up.

        1. I absolutely agree that it will happen in Afghanistan.

          Debatable what would have happened in Vietnam if the U.S. had honored its commitments. Maybe a South Korean types success, or maybe just a delayed collapse.

        2. You mean a country of goat herders and opium farmers can’t afford the most expensive military hardware on the planet?

          How can that be?

          1. They don’t have US equipment. Mostly left over Soviet arms, with some other stuff tossed in at the edges. The Russians should love having the market for arms in future…

  4. “our war in Afghanistan will finally come to an end.”

    No shit, Sherlock.

    1. Only 12 years after the punitive expedition should have ended.

    2. What war?

      Was there a declaration of war against Afghanistan? No?

      Is this really more of an Afghan civil war? If so, why are we there?

      At least in Viet Nam and Korea, there were actual sovereign states that we were at war with. To me, that’s a central flaw in our “War on Terror”: its a category error. War is armed conflict between sovereigns. There’s none of that here, so its not a war.

      1. AUMF is legally a declaration of war against AQ and any supporting nations, so yes it was a war.

  5. IOW, Obama wants to withdraw enough troops so he can claim the title of PeaceMaker while leaving just enough behind for America to still be at war but with too few troops to do any good. This guy’s knack for worst of all worlds is quite impressive.

    1. Hillary and the dems will claim a two-fer in 2016 since they ended those evil wars. She’ll mumble when they ask if she supported and voted for both.

  6. I hope the peace in Afghanistan works out better than the peace in Libya.

    1. How much you willing to bet?

      1. One Dollar.

  7. Yes. The war in Afghanistan is coming to an end, and the war in Syria is just beginning.

    http://online.wsj.com/news/art…..80320.html

    1. Those are just trainers, advisors, what could go wrong?

      1. They will be training Islamic terrorists?

  8. “Is the War in Afghanistan Coming to an End?

    Obama to announce plans to leave 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan

    huh? hmm. er. Yeah, like, totally, finally, completely, except those 10,000. and the air support. And the logistics train through Russian airspace. And the CIA bases in Pakistan. And…

    1. Those ten thousand are there to make sure that at least some of the billions needed to support the Afghan government goes where it is suppose to

      As soon as those 10,000 leave then the Afghans will steal all the money and the US will end support, this will collapse the Afghan government and Army since we have built them without having the economy to support the.

      The same thing happened to the Soviets, they pulled out and a couple of years later the Afghan government collapsed as soon as the last money and supplies ran out since there was not enough economy to run even a soviet style government and military.


      1. DJF|5.27.14 @ 2:40PM|#

        Those ten thousand are there to make sure that at least some of the billions needed to support the Afghan government goes where it is suppose(sic) to”

        I see that you note that none of the many billions we’ve already spent every went ‘where it was suppose to’ despite having 50,000+ troops or so attempting to pretend to be trying. So I doubt the ‘intent’ you ascribe will yield any real material effect.

        From a strategic POV, if anything, we should cut off the $ flow ASAP simply to help manage the descent into chaos at least progress in a fashion that nets us some kind of benefit.

        Leaving 10,000 in the quicksand to pretend that the administration is being ‘responsible’ is simply going to result in the deaths of more americans to no useful end.

    2. So the last brigade will be brought home with much fanfare around November 2016? I wonder what else is happening that month?

      1. I’m guessing a big outbreak of violence in Afghanistan.

        1. Oh, that should be well before that, I imagine.

  9. “America’s commitment to the people of Afghanistan will endure,” said Obama.

    What part of that don’t you understand? We’ve been pretty goddamn committed for the last 15 years to killing the shit out of at least some of the people of Afghanistan, haven’t we? That commitment will endure.

  10. Orwell was right: War is Peace. And by that, “Operation Enduring Freedom” is “Operation Perpetual War.” I am so sorry he didn’t live nearly long enough to critique the current regime, as, for instance, Daniel Ellsberg has been able to critique the War on Whistleblowers.

  11. Bring ALL the troops home, abandon all the hardware and let the Afghanis take care of Afghanistan.

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