Sunday, June 30, 2013
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Remember all the talk about western forces being out of Afghanistan in 2014? Well, that deal is off now. NATO has quietly decided it will keep advisers in Afghanistan until 2020 or until we totally take leave of our senses.
The problem is the Afghan army - the one we've had a dozen years to create which works out to twice as long as we took to launch, fight and win WWII. It seems in the land of the most warlike peoples on the planet, twelve years isn't nearly long enough to establish a viable army capable of defending its central government. Twelve's not enough, maybe eighteen is the answer.
We need to face facts even if that means admitting our hard-earned failure. Afghanistan is a hopelessly failed state. According to Foreign Policy's 2013 Failed State Index, Afghanistan is the seventh worst country on the planet. It's a narco-state, a criminal enterprise, beset by the dual scourges of warlordism and tribalism.
We aren't going to eradicate Afghanistan's opium economy. We aren't going to dismember the warlord structure that runs the place. We aren't going to heal the open wounds of tribalism. We aren't going to sort out the many external forces that help destabilize Afghanistan.
The place doesn't have a viable, credible central government. What then is there for an Afghan army to support and defend?
Keeping NATO forces in Afghanistan until 2020 is about face-saving, nothing more. It's about kicking failure down the street, leaving it for someone else to wear long after those actually responsible for it are safely at their ease in retirement.
But, if they want to keep advisers in Afghanistan until 2020, I have a suggestion. Make sure those advisers, all of them, are senior officers - majors, colonels and generals, the lot. They're the geniuses who created this situation, let them ride it out to the end.