Friday, February 16, 2018

The Afghanistan War Has Failed

I've been against American war efforts in the Middle East ever since the Persian Gulf War -- we got in, kicked Saddam out of Kuwait and got out, hard to criticize that -- except for the immediate move into Afghanistan after 9/11, which I assumed, wrongly, would be a police action to get Osam bin Laden.

There's no winning there, never was.

That one moment in time, when bin Laden was holed up in Tora Bora and George W. Bush lost interest and turned instead to Iraq, was the point where we should have gotten out.

Now, sixteen years later, it's too late. We're stuck and can't get out. Still, we should. There's nothing to win there.

For a glimpse at the futility, Google "afghanistan war failed." Something I found was a two-part set of essays detailing the pro and con sides of staying or going. Here's part one; here's part two.

A taste:
If the United States departs, then it must consider how to influence Afghanistan to blunt the most dangerous threats. One option is to emulate the Soviet Union after its departure by backing a client government with money and weapons to enable it to survive. Moscow backed the Najibullah regime which managed to hold on in Afghanistan for several years; The United States could mimic this tactic with anti-Taliban forces. The U.S. might further support these anti-Taliban groups with air power and a far smaller number of trainers and special operators, enabling the Afghan government to survive but hardly to advance. Such an inglorious withdrawal would suggest that the blood and treasure spent in Afghanistan were wasted, but that’s not a reason to stay on.
Remind anyone of Vietnam? A side note: Vietnam could recover because there were no longer competing interests after the U.S. pulled out. In Afghanistan, the old divisions and tribes would remain -- along with the potentially resurgent terrorist groups -- which is why we may never be able to leave.

We broke it, we own it.

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