Friday, November 16, 2012
Get Out. Now.
"We cannot pretend there is any more to do in Afghanistan."
That brief observation underlies the argument of former British Liberal Dem leader, Lord Ashdown, that it's time to pull his country's military forces out of Afghanistan, just as quickly as possible.
Calling the war in Afghanistan, "this awful mistake," Ashdown said the only reason remaining for fighting is to cover our withdrawal.
"It is not worth wasting one more life in Afghanistan. All that we can achieve has now been achieved. All that we might have achieved if we had done things differently, has been lost. The only rational policy now is to leave quickly, in good order and in the company of our allies. This is the only cause for which further lives should be risked."
And so, it seems, we may have at last reached the moment when the invincible military force (our side) realizes it has lost the war in which it never lost a battle. We'll be agonizingly slow to admit it, careers, after all, are at stake, but we have lost in any case.
The ongoing war in Afghanistan is what routinely happens when a conventional military force, overwhelming in both numbers and firepower, loses to insurgents. Because they can't defeat us on the battlefield we tend to keep on blasting away at them years after the issue is decided.
Just when was the issue decided? Several years ago, that's when. More than two years ago the Pentagon's own oracle, the RAND Corporation conducted an analysis that concluded our war in Afghanistan was irredeemably lost.
The report, "Victory Has a Thousand Fathers," identified positive and negative factors that created a litmus test to assess victory or defeat by counterinsurgent, or COIN, forces (our side). The report was prepared for the then Secretary of Defence.
When the RAND folks ran the Afghan War through their test it came out a total loss, an utter waste. Bear in mind that the RAND report was released to the public back in the summer of 2010. Yet here we are nearing the end of 2012, talking about getting out of Afghanistan in 2014.
Here's the thing. How many good people have we lost, how many innocent Afghans have we killed, since mid-2010? How many good people will we lose, how many more Afghans will we kill by the time we all leave in 2014? I wish we had those figures because they're very important. They represent the number of people pointlessly killed due to the self-serving refusal of our political and military leadership to accept their failure at least as far back as mid-2010. That is unless they can come up with some plausible justification for dragging out an unwinnable war by at least four (more like seven) years.
It's not that losing the Afghan War was inevitable. That we'll never know. What we should know, after all we owe that much to all the dead and their families, is that we made a few horrible choices that ensured we would wind up where we are today.