Longer War in Afghanistan a Bipartisan Affair

Support in Washington for an even longer war in Afghanistan is growing.


Department of Defense

Despite the ceremonial end of combat operations last year, the war in Afghanistan appears to be escalating. And while the work on an authorization for the use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that Congress could back continues, even though President Obama says he doesn't need it, bipartisan support for continuing efforts in Afghanistan is a lot broader, as Roll Call reports:

A growing number of key Senate Democrats have quietly joined Republicans and Pentagon leaders in advocating a slower withdrawal and a longer stay for U.S. troops because of concern about the security situation.

Republicans have long criticized the administration for setting dates for the withdrawal, and now Democrats who oversee the Pentagon have gradually begun to agree — and they have done so more and more openly. They appear concerned that without U.S. troops, the situation in Afghanistan could quickly deteriorate, as it did in Iraq after U.S. forces left more three years ago.

According to the new defense secretary, the White House is still mulling over a request from the new president of Afghanistan to slow down the withdrawal, which is supposed to leave 10,000 troops in the country at the end of 2015 and none by the end of 2016.

While Congress' appetite to approve an open-ended mission against ISIS appears blunted—about as many members appear to believe the president's limited AUMF goes too far as that it doesn't go far enough—the general appetite for war remains whet. While the ISIS AUMF would repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF, there's been no effort to amend the 2001 Al-Qaeda AUMF under which the government says the war in Afghanistan as well as counter-terror operations from Somalia to Pakistan falls.

President Obama ran for re-election in 2012 under the misleading claim that he had ended the war in Iraq. As ISIS ran rough-shod over the forces of a broken Iraqi government, Obama walked back that claim, acknowledging not only that the decision to withdraw troops was not his but that he wanted to keep troops in Iraq.

The fear that the perceived progress made in Afghanistan over the last 13 years could evaporate after the departure of U.S. troops could keep them on the ground far longer than 2016. Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban for years before the 2001 U.S. invasion helped propel the Northern Alliance into power. In the more than ten years since then, Western support for the Afghan government has kept it corrupt and dependent on foreign aid, which accounts for up to 97 percent of Afghanistan's GDP.

Government planning and intervention doesn't work to improve the economy at home, and in fact often makes things worse. The idea that government could plan an entire nation overseas, the core argument underneath the layers of national security posturing, ought to be preposterous. Absent the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it's unlikely ISIS would have grown the way it has. And who knows how long the Taliban would have lasted absent the U.S. war? Even had the U.S. declared the war over and won in 2004, Afghanistan's government, forced to justify its own existence, might have fared better than it has and not still been dependent on foreign troops nearly a generation later.

NEXT: A. Barton Hinkle on Terry McAuliffe's Ethics Hypocrisy

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  1. Should have let the Russkies have it.

    1. Nah. The Soviets deserved that bullshit for their Vietnam meddling.

      1. Depending on how the whole Ukraine thing blows over, you may see Russia starting to supply Taliban. Then fun will really begin.

        1. I don’t know, unlike the US, Russia generally seems to actually LEARN lessons.

          1. As proven by their incredibly robust free-market economy and cautious, keep-to-themselves foreign policy.

            1. It’s working great for their ruling class.

        2. Don’t think that would be a particularly good idea. The Russians have a lot more to lose from Islamic radicalism than we do.

          1. They do. It’ll be more of a spite thing than any kind of permanent alliance.

  2. According to the new defense secretary, the White House is still mulling over a request from the new president of Afghanistan to slow down the withdrawal…

    What? Entering into a war without an exit strategy, with no achievable objectives and no idea as to the the definition of victory resulted in a 14 year war, and those that profit by war are asking it continue indefinitely?

    SHOCKED, I AM!!!!!111tenplusone111

    1. Well said.

      The funny thing is, you don’t even need to be a non-interventionist to see the madness of what you just described.

      1. Bush I applied the lessons learned from Vietnam. He set clear achievable goals in Gulf War I and then stuck to them

        Then his snot-nosed “I flew fighters in the ANG for a couple years to avoid Vietnam” kid came along and made the mistakes of SE Asia all over again. He essentially shit all over everything that had been learned and this mess is what it got us. It’s a cliche, but the GWOT is another Vietnam…because an idiot president, with little to no military education, made it so.

        And Obama makes Bush II look like a military genius.

  3. Those defense contracts aren’t going to pay themselves.

    1. Those defense contracts aren’t going to pay themselves.

      While I’m sure there is pressure to continue because of this, I don’t think it’s the driving force behind it.

      It’s election politics, pure and simple. There was no defined end state from the onset, so whichever side suggests an end to hostilities will be berated by the other side for not doing enough.

      Politicians are the most wretched immoral scum ever placed on God’s green earth. Sacrificing human lives for their power. They are vile!

      1. If the military buys fewer toys, then lots of voters are out of a job. So it’s in the interest of the politicians to keep blowing things up. Yeah, it’s election politics.

        1. If the military buys fewer toys, then lots of voters are out of a job. So it’s in the interest of the politicians to keep blowing things up.

          The current hostilities have very little to do with the number of toys the military has. There have been a few, cheap, innovations brought about by the war (MRAP, Drones), but by and large, the military is using the weapons that were acquired 30-40 years ago. That’s the turn-around time of the acquisition cycle. And they will need to be replaced regardless of how long the current hostilities go. So the futures of the big defense contractors is pretty fucking secure.

          Yes, those supplying food, ammo and services benefit with longevity, but not the toymakers.

          This is all about politicians looking weak in the eyes of the warmongering public, which I’m sorry to say, has grow significantly since the 90s. It has become expected that we now go to war every time another nation gives us a dirty look. “The new normal.” And I’m not sure what it will take to re-cage the public’s gyros.

          1. If we weren’t in a constant state of war, then we wouldn’t to maintain as large of a military. That would cut into acquisitions.

            1. Acquisitions are a direct result of The National Security Strategy (NSS) from which comes the National Military Strategy (NMS). At least that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

              The military determines what toys they need to comply with the NSS based upon the threat it is likely to encounter. For the military to ratchet down the NMS, first requires the nation to agree that we aren’t going to become involved in every fucking bullshit conflict throughout the world.

              So yes, when the politicians decide to mind their own fucking business, we can acquire less hardware and manpower.

              Unfortunately, it seems many Americans have confused support for the troops with support for war (which are actually diametrically opposed) and believe it’s America’s job to police the entire fucking world.

              1. Unfortunately, it seems many Americans have confused support for the troops with support for war (which are actually diametrically opposed) and believe it’s America’s job to police the entire fucking world.


  4. This must be total nonsense, as I am assured by an Obama slurper in today’s newspaper that “Obama has taken troops out of Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, he is not sending troops by the tens of thousands to battle ISIS. So where do you get all this that he is getting the country into another world war?”

    1. Wow. That person must equate war with a 200,000 troop invasion, occupation, and full scale nation-building.

      I wonder what POTUS idiot would have done that?

      1. Not Obama, he was cowering behind the Libyan Ambassador when the bullets started flying.

    2. News…paper? What the fuck is that?

      1. I think he . . . *prints* . . . out websites to read, on the john?

        But why not use your phone?

        1. But…how do you update information as it becomes available? And how do you switch over to the Kindle app when you get tired of the biased bullshit?

  5. Oh good.
    America without War is like Chicken without Waffles!

    1. Chicken and waffles is the most overrated food combination in existence. Combining them doesn’t make either one better.

  6. This morning I got what seemed to be a non-critical news-feed from the AP saying that if those dirty Republicans shut down the Dept. of Homeland Security, the Party of Michael Moore won’t be able to fight ISIS at home or deal with snowstorms*.

    *What fucking snowstorms?

    1. Which, of course now that I think about it, puts me right back to what I postulated yesterday about regulatory agencies. Pick one, ANY one, at random to shut down or even slow down, and Democrats will squeak the loudest.

    2. Charlie Sheen house parties?

    3. What does DHS have to do with snowstorms?

      1. Fuck if I know…

        I mean, what did DHS have to do with Rubik’s Cubes, but they seemed to believe it was under their purview.

  7. Correct me if I’m wrong historians, but it looks like the Vietnam war was ended by congress with the case-church amendment . If the American people are tired of the war in Afghanistan, why aren’t any senators/reps introducing a bill to end authorization? Seems like a great way to get elected.

    1. Seems like a great way to get elected.

      Name one politician who got elected on an anti-war platform?

      1. Obama was anti Iraq War.

        But of course he was pro-war when it came to the real killers.

    2. Seems like a great way to get elected.

      Maybe elected, but not really re-elected. Nobody wants to be the politician (actually more precisely party) who “lost” the war.

      1. Nixon was president when Vietnam ended and got re-elected. Granted he was not for ending the war.

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