Thought of the Day: Afghanistan Edition

When Thomas Friedman loses faith in a war, it’s time to give up.

It would be one thing if the people we were fighting with and for represented everything the Taliban did not: decency, respect for women’s rights and education, respect for the rule of law and democratic values and rejection of drug-dealing. But they do not. Too many in this Kabul government are just a different kind of bad. This has become a war between light black — Karzai & Co. — and dark black — Taliban Inc. And light black is simply not good enough to ask Americans to pay for with blood or treasure.

That’s about right, methinks.

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Al Bee says:

    I have no one to please but myself and my wife and only because my wife cooks better than I.

    A retired Army NCO, I have always believed that everyone has the right to a free and independent life. With this in mind I went where my president sent me.

    In South Korea we accomplished our goal. A free and independent South Korea.

    In South Vietnam we did not accomplish the mission. An Army lacking support from the electorate cannot succeed when half of the country is working against victory. The Tet offensive of ’69 had wasted the NVA and VC ability and resources to wage war, but Congress came the their aid.

    Afghanistan is an unwinnable war. A porous border, an inexhaustible supply of indoctrinated and mesmerized idiots, a populace that has little interest or belief in the outcome and a questionable government just we have our similar situation. I no longer want our young military people decimated by politicians who have never served their country and have little interest in the outcome in Afghanistan.




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  2. Mike says:

    The only question is how to pull out while saving face; that is all the politicians seek to accomplish now.




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  3. Dave Schuler says:

    The only question is how to pull out while saving face; that is all the politicians seek to accomplish now.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the only question. The great, big, elephant-in-the-room question is “How are ungoverned areas to be treated?” That’s the real problem in Afghanistan, the FATA area of Pakistan, much of the rest of Central Asia, and Africa. The allegedly central governments exert no control and simultaneously declare sovereignty and refuse accountability.

    The romantics in the EU want to leave the poor dears to their own devices; the realists in Russia and China see those ungoverned areas as opportunities for extending their own influence. Then we end up getting smacked in the face.




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  4. Gustopher says:

    Since the Taliban has supported al Qaeda and will continue to do so, how will pulling out of Afghanistan affect the fight against al Qaeda?

    Badly, I would guess.




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  5. Mr. Freidman once again successfully demolishes his strawman. The reason we are in Afghanistan is to pursue a known enemy (radical Islamists) and to leave them with nowhere to go to ground. There are cheaper, albeit more barbarous, ways to accomplish this that we don’t really want to use. Of course it would be nice to have a stable government in Afghanistan, but why anyone thinks this is feaible in less than several generations has yet to be explained to me by anyone as smart as Mr. Friedman.

    It is absolutely true that we can’t “fix” Afghanistan. It is just as absolutely true that we cannot just walk away and provide a state sponsored training camp and breeding ground for our enemies to flourish. There are no good answers here. But before you declare any one answer bad and unacceptable I believe there is a moral iomperative to offer a better, more feasible, and more attainable solution.

    So, what is President Obama to do since he repeatedly stated quite clearly last year that Afghanistan is the war we should be fighting? Frankly I worry less about our exit strategy than our victory strategy. Will we repeat the mistakes of Vietnam and just declare victory and leave, essentially throwing Afghanistan and all the scrifices made there uder the bus now for political expediency? I’m sure the next president will not be too happy having to clean up the festering mess that will develop there if we do.

    Gosh, if only Congress had taken Gust’s advice (or was it Aaron Sorkin’s) to spend $1 million when the Russians left to rebuild the schools in Afghanistan, then everything would have worked out. Sigh.




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  6. An Interested Party says:

    Freidman’s argument could also apply to Iraq…say we are asked to leave and the government there decides to align with Iran or uses its own oil wealth for nefarious purposes…do we just invade again?

    I’m sure the next president will not be too happy having to clean up the festering mess that will develop there if we do.

    The next president will surely feel no worse than the current one does because of the enormous festering messes that were left for him…




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  7. Gustopher says:

    charles austin scribbles:

    It is absolutely true that we can’t “fix” Afghanistan. It is just as absolutely true that we cannot just walk away and provide a state sponsored training camp and breeding ground for our enemies to flourish.

    I don’t know that we cannot “fix” Afghanistan. I do know that we haven’t really tried hard enough — the war in Iraq has been a distraction and has sapped the strength of our forces in Afghanistan.

    I think we need a new approach, and possibly a more radical approach than the surge in Iraq — we need a plan for containing the ungoverned areas, we need to dump Karzai and pick a new strongman, and we need to make sure the governed areas can actually be governed.




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  8. davod says:

    “Gosh, if only Congress had taken Gust’s advice (or was it Aaron Sorkin’s) to spend $1 million when the Russians left to rebuild the schools in Afghanistan, then everything would have worked out. Sigh.”

    This has been attempted at least five times times since the early 20th century. Each time the changes proved to great for the more conservative/religious to bear and the instigators were lucky to escape with their lives.




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