To me, Vance's pronouncement seemed to say that Afghanistan might be winnable by someone else at some time in the distant future. These days generals don't seem to wage wars they might have to win or lose before they can safely retire. But they always know that somebody can win it, eventually, if they only have lots of time, and focus and patience.
Of course a lot depends on how you define 'win'. When we got into this adventure almost a decade ago, 'win' meant we would 1) drive the Taliban out, 2) track down bin Laden and destroy al Qaeda, 3) establish a viable, democratic central government, 4) raise, equip and train an Afghan National Army, and 5) institute Western liberal human rights and, in particular, women's rights.
Nine plus years later, how have we fared? The Taliban are resurgent; bin Laden is apparently alive and keeping busy in Pakistan; al Qaeda has spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa; we have a criminal enterprise in lieu of a viable government in Kabul operated by a totally corrupt bureaucracy, judiciary and security service; the country has morphed into a narco-state; Afghan soldiers desert at roughly the same rate as we manage to train them; and the warlords we empower have restored Islamist fundamentalism to the countryside crushing all the nonsense about women's and human rights.
Somewhere in the CBC archives is a year end quiz sort of show, a year end wrap up of The Journal with Pam and Peter Mansbridge. It was like trivial pursuit over the news stories of the previous year. Mansbridge knew everything, and Wallin knew nothing. Then, in the new year, she was no longer there. I always thought she had been turfed for showing all of Canada that all she had been doing was reading the news, and didn't actually understand a word of it. Wish we could find that episode of The Journal.....
Anon, I'd love to see that.
Regarding #3, Bob Rae of Rae's Plan to stay in Afghanistan to train, he is on P & P flogging his new book, Exporting Democracy, cuz Democracy so so powerful, cuz it's so amazing when people govern themselves, because Buy My Book, until we finally WIN and Export Democracy, yesiree bob.
Yeah, well, I think the Libs have got their heads firmly up their backsides on this one too. If, maybe if, Karzai had ever lifted a finger to stop the desertions in his own army my outlook might have been different. However when his prisons have a revolving door for the drug trade and the Talibs, it's not likely he'll want to come down too hard on the farmfolk for deserting.
At least 'behind the wire' we shouldn't have to spend too much time banging away on Afghans.
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