It’s been eight years since we invaded Afghanistan under the belief that we would rouse the Taliban from power, then kill or capture members of al-Qaeda, who were responsible for the Sept. 11th attacks. It’s mind-boggling that we’re still there, but when you consider that Afghanistan was all but discarded for a boondoggle in Iraq, it’s easy to see how Afghanistan became the Forgotten War.
Afghanistan has been a long, slow bleed-and-burn that fewer and fewer Americans have the stomach for as more and more people have forgotten why we invaded in the first place. In a recent Gallup poll, 50 percent of Americans said they were against President Obama sending more troops to Afghanistan. And let’s not even get into the many people who voted for Obama under the belief that he would find a resolution to the problem that is Afghanistan. At the same time we have generals discussing the war in the press, expressing their opinions on what the president should or shouldn’t be doing, as the decision whether or not to send more troops is gauged.
Gen. McChrystal — whom Obama’s administration appointed to Afghanistan earlier this year — has already indicated that he is likely to request more troops for that country. Should Obama turn down such a request, he risks the ire of Republicans and others who will most likely argue that he is ignoring the wishes of his commanders on the ground, and making a mistake that could result in an increased risk of terrorism, among other things. Should he agree to order more troops, he will go against the wishes of the broad U.S. population — and, in particular, the rank-and-file of his own party, which at the moment is more opposed to than in favor of such an action.
We’ve been in Afghanistan about seven years too long. I feel it should have always been about getting al-Qaeda and when Osama bin Laden proved elusive in Tora Bora we should have stayed focused on that and not gotten into the tired business of nation building. Not only is history stacked against us (Afghanistan is comically notorious for its inability to be conquered.) very few Americans personally care what happens to the country.
Before the war, our closest relationship to the place was using it as a proxy to bog down the former U.S.S.R, which also made the mistake of trying to conquer Afghanistan during their long, bloody incursion. Afghanistan has few resources (hence why poppies for heroin are their number one export), is almost strategically worthless. If we did win the war, I’d be among the many wondering what in the hell did we just win. I’m not even sure what winning would look like, considering the level of corruption that presently exists and that its leader is primarily the ruler of the nation’s largest city and little else.
Still, there is a good chance that the president will send more troops to Afghanistan as during his election he said this was the more pressing battle that had to be fought. He was for a troop surge in Afghanistan and we all know how no president wants to “lose” a war. LBJ didn’t, which is why he ended up kicking the Vietnam can down to Richard Nixon. Afghanistan is not as bloody as Vietnam, but is almost as mentally numbing in its near pointlessness.
From Politico’s The Huddle:
The one commitment Obama made, according to the New York Times, was there would be no hasty exit from the battlefield, even after an eight-year slog that is lasting longer than the far more bloody conflict in Vietnam:
“Mr. Obama seemed to be searching for some sort of middle ground, saying he wanted to “dispense with the straw man argument that this is about either doubling down or leaving Afghanistan,” as White House officials later described his remarks.”
I don’t know how you find middle ground on Afghanistan. I think it is as simple as either doubling down or leaving. There are no other real options. You could send some troops, but not the total 40,000 requested, but that’s still sending more troops. That’s still further investing, or half-assed investing, in this untenable situation.
What’s your view on Afghanistan? With the president weighing his options, what do you think he should do? Right now everyone is giving their opinions (most Republicans are for more troops; Democrats are all over the map as always), but what’s yours? I think the war has become another pointless exercise in ego, re: our pride, being smooshed by outside forces and us clinging to it despite the fact that it may be time to just pack up our toys and go home. I see no point in sending more troops if we’re not getting an explanation on what success in Afghanistan and the end of the war looks like. There needs to be some finality better than the lame, “We still have troops in Europe and we still have troops in South Korea,” explanation that Secy. of State Hillary Clinton gave to Katie Couric Tuesday on the evening news. No one has died from aggression in Korea or Europe in decades. When people say “what’s the endgame?” they want to know when does the bleeding stop. How can you have finality when people are still blowing up everything, including themselves, to keep this war of attrition going?
To what end do we keep going?