Afghanistan

Another Grim Report About the Afghanistan War. Is There Anyone Who Cares?

What does Trump have to do to get the failing Afghanistan war into the news cycle?

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U.S. Air Force

For a particularly grim portrait of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which started 16 years ago last month, read the latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

Before we discuss what's in that document, let's pause to note what's not in it. Information that these reports used to include—how many Afghan troop casualties there have been, how large the Afghan armed forces are, how well they're recruiting, how well they're equipped—is missing this time. This administration apparently believes that Americans need to be kept in the dark about the conduct and progress of the war, so as to let military leaders make the decisions they want.

Nonetheless, the information that the SIGAR report does provide makes a powerful case that any advantages to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan expired long ago. The Afghan government now controls less territory and population than at any point since SIGAR started tracking that data. More than 10 percent of Afghans now live in areas "under insurgent control or influence," according to the report. This has happened even though the U.S. has dropped more munitions in Afghanistan than at any time since 2012. (The U.S. alone conducted more than 2,400 air strikes in the country this year.)

Meanwhile, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says civilian casualties in air strikes conducted by the U.S. and its allies have gone up 50 percent since last year. Two-thirds of those casualties are women and children. (UNAMA attributes 177 civilian casualties this year to coalition air strikes. The United States military disputes that estimate, saying it has confirmed only 43 civilian casualties.)

The last year has also seen a big increase in so-called "insider attacks" on U.S. and Afghan personnel by other Afghan personnel—there were 54 through August 15 of this year, 26 more over the same period last year. Another recent SIGAR report finds that over the last 12 years, more than 47 percent of the foreign military trainees who have gone AWOL after being brought to the U.S. were from Afghanistan. In 2016, 13 percent of Afghan trainees brought to the U.S. went AWOL. This casts yet more doubt on the effectiveness of the intervention, which in recent years has been premised on the need to train Afghan forces.

Perhaps the president's decision to be less transparent about the war will motivate his opponents to do something about it. Or perhaps we'll just sink deeper into the quagmire. So far, the war is still mostly just forgotten.

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  1. I care. Sadly I’m not allowed to vote.

    1. Why not? Because you’re a robot?

      1. I never learned Cursive so I can’t sign my voter registration.

        1. Fucking Millennials. I bet you ate the marshmallow too.

            1. The new marshmallow test is whether you eat the artisanal bourbon marshmallow right away, or whether you delay gratification long enough to Instagram it first.

      2. Truthfully, when USA has mini bomber drones that can marry 2-3 tons of bombs that can terrorize taliban at minimal cost, why does US need more afghan soldiers, more munitions? Air raids with advanced jets much more expensive, So target strike from ucav, then moving in soldiers, seems to be the best strategy for afghanistan?

        Afghanistan has $3-4 tn in natural resources, these operations can be self sufficient if USA asks afghan govt for tenders in its favor….The solution is sealing the afghan mountainous border with afghan foot soldiers, that will take $40-50 bn of infrastructure, manpower can be gotten from allies such as india easily.

  2. I think if we can just stay the course for 30 or 40 more years, we’ll have them right where we want them.

  3. There is no end to the Forever War. It says so right in the name.

  4. Is there anyone who cares?

    Nope. Not here. Now that the Dark One is surfing in Hawaii full time and basically being a good citizen there’s nothing to complain about, Ed. Jesus Christ, stop being such a priss.

    1. Robespierre Josef Stalin Pot|11.1.17 @ 3:26PM|#
      “Nope. Not here. Now that the Dark One is surfing in Hawaii full time and basically being a good citizen there’s nothing to complain about, Ed. Jesus Christ, stop being such a priss.”

      You cerainly didn’t give a crap when that lying piece of shit was in office.

      1. Libya deserved it.

      2. Liar. I said many times I was against Obama’s troop increase in Afghanistan and NATO’s bombing campaign in Libya. Period.

        1. Bullshit. There was that one time when you suggested that Obama’s motivations might not have been totally evil. You can’t fool us, warmonger.

  5. “Is There Anyone Who Cares?”

    Nobody who counts.

  6. I don’t personally believe that there’s anything we’re trying to “accomplish” by being in Afghanistan other than being in Afghanistan.

    US foreign policy in the ME has been about “containing Iran” for quite some time now, and it’s hard not to suspect that we’re doing so on behalf of the Saudis. Keeping troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is central to that goal. If those “wars” were ever to “end,” we wouldn’t be able to keep troops there.

    Having a military presence in a country that shares a border with China is an added bonus prize.

  7. If Americans didn’t care when Obama massively intensified the war and got three hundred of Americans killed for no actual end in his first year in office, why would they care about Trump just letting the low-level conflict continue and kill a dozen Americans?

  8. “more than 47 percent of the foreign military trainees who have gone AWOL after being brought to the U.S. were from Afghanistan. In 2016, 13 percent of Afghan trainees brought to the U.S. went AWOL.”

    That makes it sound as though the two numbers are measuring the same thing, but they are not. As written, one is the percentage of foreign military trainees who went AWOl who were from Afghanistan, the other the percent of Afghan trainees who went AWOL.

    If the difference isn’t obvious, consider some imaginary numbers. 100 Afghan trainees, 13 of who go AWOL. 14 non-Afghan trainees who go AWOL. 13% of Afghan trainees are going AWOL and 48% of the trainees who go AWOL are Afghans.

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