Sunday, July 21, 2013

19 Things We Can't Say About Afghanistan

Canada's indulgence in martial boosterism has come and gone.  We're no longer all that keen on kicking Taliban ass in Afghanistan.  Like our American counterparts we hardly even mention the place any more.  That goes in spades for the former Hero of Kandahar, Steve Harper.   Remember the days - oh, we were never gonna cut'n run.   We were going to kick the Taliban's ass right off the planet.   We were going to make Afghanistan safe for democracy and human rights.  Yeah, sure Steve.

Which brings me to something written last year by Thomas Ricks, 19 truths our generals can't say in public about our Afghan war:

  • Pakistan is now an enemy of the United States.
  • We don't know why we are here, what we are fighting for, or how to know if we are winning.
  • The strategy is to fight, talk, and build. But we're withdrawing the fighters, the Taliban won't talk, and the builders are corrupt.
  • Karzai's family is especially corrupt.
  • We want President Karzai gone but we don't have a Pushtun successor handy.
  • But the problem isn't corruption, it is which corrupt people are getting the dollars. We have to help corruption be more fair.
  • Another thing we'll never stop here is the drug traffic, so the counternarcotics mission is probably a waste of time and resources that just alienates a swath of Afghans.
  • Making this a NATO mission hurt, not helped. Most NATO countries are just going through the motions in Afghanistan as the price necessary to keep the US in Europe
  • Yes, the exit deadline is killing us.
  • Even if you got a deal with the Taliban, it wouldn't end the fighting.
  • The Taliban may be willing to fight forever. We are not.
  • Yes, we are funding the Taliban, but hey, there's no way to stop it, because the truck companies bringing goods from Pakistan and up the highway across Afghanistan have to pay off the Taliban. So yeah, your tax dollars are helping Mullah Omar and his buddies. Welcome to the neighborhood.
  • Even non-Taliban Afghans don't much like us.
  • Afghans didn't get the memo about all our successes, so they are positioning themselves for the post-American civil war .
  • And they're not the only ones getting ready. The future of Afghanistan is probably evolving up north now as the Indians, Russians and Pakistanis jockey with old Northern Alliance types. Interestingly, we're paying more and getting less than any other player.
  • Speaking of positioning for the post-American civil war, why would the Pakistanis sell out their best proxy shock troops now?
  • The ANA and ANP could break the day after we leave the country.
  • We are ignoring the advisory effort and fighting the "big war" with American troops, just as we did in Vietnam. And the U.S. military won't act any differently until and work with the Afghan forces seriously until when American politicians significantly draw down U.S. forces in country-when it may be too damn late.
  • The situation American faces in Afghanistan is similar to the one it faced in Vietnam during the Nixon presidency: A desire a leave and turn over the war to our local allies, combined with the realization that our allies may still lose, and the loss will be viewed as a U.S. defeat anyway. 


opit said...

It's enough to make one think that COIN is cover for harassing the poor foreign locals the same way that the War on Drugs is cover for violating constitutional 'rights' in the USA. Do Canadians even have any ?
I also find it interesting the state has such a concern for the welfare of its citizens as to interfere with the drugs they access in their own person. One might suspect that is to protect a monopoly. After all, one should not examine too closely the potential uses of substances which might change our engineered dependencies. Making possession a crime prevents the potential for impromptu useful use of known painkillers.

Charlene said...
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