August 24, 2012

"Why Afghanistan Isn’t a Campaign Issue: Neither Obama nor Romney Have a Solution."

Nobody wants to talk about it:
It’s generally recognized across the board, now, that the Taliban won’t be militarily defeated, nor is there any immediate prospect of a political solution to the conflict....

So, the U.S. will leave Afghanistan locked in the throes of the same civil war that was underway when it first invaded in late 2001, albeit with the scoreboard having been reversed: The Taliban is now the insurgent force, while its erstwhile enemies, the Northern Alliance, form the basis of the regime in Kabul...



“The United States military often tends to behave as though you can create an effective allied military by just running them through the right number of training courses, giving them the right number of weapons, paying salary in sufficient amounts to raise a large enough force,” warns George Washington University professor Stephen Biddle. “But success and failure in building a third-world military, which is essentially what we are trying to do in Afghanistan, usually turns on soft questions like politics, whether the military in question gets captured by cronyism and politicized–and in this case, whether the politics of their relationship with their mentors works.”

It’s not hard to see how that relationship is poisoned if U.S. personnel suspect their Afghan charges could, at any point, shoot them in the back. The resultant wariness among American trainers towards their Afghan charges becomes a vicious circle, warns Andrew Exum, a former Army Ranger and consultant to the U.S. military in Afghanistan. “The Afghans must surely sense the Americans and other Westerners do not fully trust them, and it would only be natural for them to respond to that mistrust in kind.”...

 “The war is going to be in a condition of long-term stalemate as of 2014,” [Biddle] warns, “and what that means is that the U.S. Congress is going to be asked to write multi-billion-dollar-a-year checks to keep this war going for a long, long time.” Whether or not Washington will remain willing to fund Afghanistan’s security after most U.S. troops leave remains an open question — and not one that’s likely to be discussed on the presidential campaign trail.
Force them to discuss it!

62 comments:

SGT Ted said...

Theyd rather talk about Akin and the "war on women" bullshit they are trying to make stick.

Lindsey Meadows said...

One can go back nearly two centuries and find that no one has a solution there and probably a great many centuries before that as well.

Our Soviet friends were trapped there and we could be there for decades more with no resolution.

This isn't an Obama or Romney solveable problem so stop wringing your hands about it.

The only solution is to get out.

Lindsey Meadows said...

dear sgt ted,

the GOP made the Akin problem and they are perpetuating it. The top is something else here not your spin on the GOP's incredible stupidity on that issue.

Tank said...

Lindsey

The Soviets are not our friends.

==============

Zero campaigned last year on ending the wars, closing Gitmo, etc. Four years later, we're still having the same discussions while our Afghan "friends" are shooting our soldiers in the back.

Yay.

Skyler said...

Nonsense. It's been a disaster only because we stopped taking it seriously. The Taliban were defeated and can be again. No one is talking about it because the fix involves being serious about the war, and neither side wants to talk about that. Obama doesn't because it would show that he's been neglecting his responsibility and Romney doesn't want to talk about it because the public doesn't want to get into that and it will detract from his main message about the economy.

But there is no reason to think that we can't fix it again. We just need to stop pretending that we can allow them to control their own governance before they establish a recognition of basic rights.

Lindsey Meadows said...

dear tank,

that is a very unenlighted observation. we have much more in common with them then differences in keeping the world stable.

and your observations about YOUR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES are plastic. He didn't send the troops there in the first place and then take his eye off the ball your DoubleU and Gitmo was the Bush/Cheney fiasco that for legal reasons can't go away and you know it. If you don't, you should. There is no reason to be so partisanly ignorant.

Skyler said...

Lindsey, the Soviets failed for many reasons.

1. They used conscripts that were poorly trained and motivated.

2. We trained and armed their opponents with new weapons that could take down their helicopters easily and that reduced their mobility.

3. Their military commanders were terrible at tactics.

4. They preferred to alienate the people by wiping out villages and acting like the communists that they were.

5. And to echo Tank, the Soviets were not our friends at that time.

Colonel Angus said...

the GOP made the Akin problem and they are perpetuating it. The top is something else here not your spin on the GOP's incredible stupidity on that issue.

Really? Seems Akin was soundly denounced by the GOP while the Democrats want to make him the topic of their convention.

Colonel Angus said...

After a decade of trying to help a primitive society evolve to at least 17th century societal standards, I think declaring victory and complete withdrawal is a winning campaign strategy for either side.

Turning the country into radioactive slag isn't a bad idea either but politically infeasible.

Skyler said...

Lilndsey explained, "that is a very unenlighted observation. we have much more in common with them then differences in keeping the world stable."

Good heavens. This kind of explains the mind set of the new style of democrats. They forget what the Soviets were and how incredibly evil they were.

The fall of the USSR was a cold war victory, but the secondary effect is that it allowed the true believers to now push their marxist agenda without the most obvious example of their ideology running around the world killing and terrorizing people.

The marxists are in charge and so many people don't see the problem or don't care.

LakeLevel said...

Of course no one is talking about it: A Democrat is President. Sheeesss, why are we talking about it? You see this is why you should vote for a Republican President, at least they are held accoundable.

Sorun said...

"Nation-building" in poorly developed countries never works.

That's why Valerie Jarrett has no idea what to do there.

AprilApple said...

Except that we all heard from the democrats how Iraq was wrong and Afghanistan was right.
Now Afganistan is a mess.

Tank said...

Lindsey

You're an idiot.

If you think the Soviets are/were our friends you are delusional. That their interests may occassionally coincide with ours does not make them friends.

Also, if you search my comments from years passed, you'll see that I opposed the Iraq invasion from before the beginning. So don't be a Wasserstrum-Schultz liar about "my W."

Lying moron.

Marshal said...

Lindsey Meadows said...
we have much more in common with [the soviets] then differences in keeping the world stable.


Leftist foolishness never ceases to amaze. The Soviets were only interested in stability in areas they controlled. Elsewhere they were the world's greatest force for instability.

It's amazing those so ignorant lecture others.

Peter said...

"The Soviets are not our friends."

Well, no, the Soviets never were our friends. BUT they sure did show us a lot about what doesn't work in Afghanistan.

In any case, at the end of the day, indirect rule is far less costly than direct rule.

The problem is, to keep client states in line, the threat of direct intervention must always be present. But once you've done the direct intervention, it's often impossible to restore indirect rule ...

Skyler said...

I will agree with the larger point in the article about the US government (not the military, we're just doing what we're told) believes that we can create a loyal and capable military just by conducting some cursory training.

Many of the men in my battalion were in the NATO training teams last year and they describe recruits as never have been in a truck before and now being trained to be truck drivers. There is no vetting of the trainees because the majority are illiterate.

That they are easily made to work against us should be no surprise.

Iraq was an educated nation with a strong sense of identity and a tradition of a rule of law, despite their years under Hussein. Afghanistan is not a nation. It has never been more than disjointed tribes with some of the tribes claiming to be more important than the others. They are loosely united by religion. We should end the farce of treating them as a united state and stop propping up a national government and national army. They don't need it.

For example, around Camp Leatherneck, a squatters city has grown. We are not allowed to help them with wells or sanitation or any improvements because the central government, hundreds of miles away, has said that they are not allowed on the land. Why should we enforce the idiocy of that impotent central government?

If we worked on one tribe as a tribe instead of pretending that they should be subordinate to another tribe that often speaks another language, we will likely have a lot more success in getting them to civilize.

Skyler said...

Peter claimed, "Well, no, the Soviets never were our friends."

CLearly you misspoke. The Soviets were our allies in the second world war.

Sorun said...

Russia and other former Soviet-bloc countries have the highest abortion rates in the world, so they're a-okay.

TosaGuy said...

Tell all parties in Afghanistan that we don't care who runs the place; however, if the group that finally runs the place harbors terrorists then we will bomb the crap out of you and put the other side in charge.

18 times to do word verification.....

TosaGuy said...

"CLearly you misspoke. The Soviets were our allies in the second world war."

Doesn't mean that we were friends.

Colonel Angus said...

The Soviets were our allies in the second world war.

Allies of convenience to be precise. Prior to Barbarossa, the Soviets and Germans were also 'allies' who divided up Poland amongst themselves.

Britain is an ally as well as a friend.

Michael said...

Skyler is correct. After 911 we devastated the Taliban and could have eliminated them entirely had we not been a nation that fights reluctantly and not to win. The idea that they are and have always been indestructable is bullshit on stilts and serves as a talking point for lefties who feign knowledge of the region's history.

Sorun said...

18 times to do word verification....

Adding the number seems to cut it down a bit. I think Google is running some strange experiment on us.

Calypso Facto said...

This isn't an Obama or Romney solveable problem so stop wringing your hands about it.

While I basically agree, Obama initially bragged about how he was the one to "solve" Afghanistan.

"When John McCain said we could just muddle through in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight" President Obama's acceptance speech.

I guess that was just more convenient-at-the-time political rhetoric?

Roger J. said...

Do I recall that our beloved POTUS opined that Afghanistan was the right war? And he has done precisely what in order to follow his own policy choice?

Iraq, on the other hand, seems to be doing OK--certainly not perfect, but no civil war, no tripartate division according to the foreign policy expert Slow Joe.

Given a comparison of the two, it seems Iraq has turned out considerably better than A-stan.

Skyler said...

Angus quibbled,Allies of convenience to be precise. Prior to Barbarossa, the Soviets and Germans were also 'allies' who divided up Poland amongst themselves.

Britain is an ally as well as a friend.


Not to be too cute, but this reminds me of kids on a playground trying to clarify, "I like him, but I don't like-like him."

edutcher said...

Having the same problem as Sorun.

Roger J. said...

As pointed out in the thread, and I think rightly, A-Stan is not a nation; rather a collection of tribal entities. Prevailing military and diplomatic actions seem predicated on a war with a nation state. I dont think that is applicable with respect to A-stan. We limit our policy choices with our assumptions.

edutcher said...

As for A-stan, Skyler is absolutely right. This is yet another example of Zero's unwillingness to do anything but give speeches.

Marshal said...

Roger J. said...
Do I recall that our beloved POTUS opined that Afghanistan was the right war?


Correct, but according to the Meade Standard because we all knew he was lying we're not supposed to hold it against him.

Skyler said...

Another quote from the main post: "“The Afghans must surely sense the Americans and other Westerners do not fully trust them, and it would only be natural for them to respond to that mistrust in kind.”...

So I guess Afghan treachery is all our fault? Poor Afghan murderers would be so much nicer if only they sensed that we trusted them?

What a sick thought. The truth is closer that he Afghans see us as patsies who won't stop them even when they shoot our men.

Bryan C said...

""Nation-building" in poorly developed countries never works."

Obviously it can work. The world is filled with successful nations built from what were once poorly developed countries. The problem is that it takes a long time to do properly, and it requires a period of unapologetic rule-by-force that we're no longer willing to commit to. No one wants to be accused of the dreaded sin of colonialism.

Roger J. said...

Marshall--is that the Meade standard or the George Costanza standard? :)

BTW--it does appear we are also involved in what looks very much like a war in Yemen--in fact, for an old fart like me, looks very much like our early involvement in Viet Nam. I mean--what could go wrong.

Then there is the whole question of Syria where Mr Obama has drawn a fuzzy line in the sand with respect to the use MWD by the Syrian government, and involvemt by the Russians. Precisely how is our military to take action in Syria?

We are, IMO, periously close to running out of resources to affect these kinds of actions.

Kirk Parker said...

TosaGuy,

The other side in charge?

So there are only two tribes in Afghanistan?

Marshal said...

Roger J.
BTW--it does appear we are also involved in what looks very much like a war in Yemen--in fact, for an old fart like me, looks very much like our early involvement in Viet Nam


This doesn't seem likely to me. There's far more awareness that level of escalation is risky and only rartely successful than there was in the Vietnam days.

Precisely how is our military to take action in Syria?

Why would we go there? Whichever set of numbnuts ends up on top is still going to hate us, just like Egypt.

TosaGuy said...

Kirk,

Quit being obtuse.

There are always two sides, those in power and those not in power. The coalitions of the many groups within each side is subject to change.

All elements keep their shenanigans in Afghanistan and they won't have to worry about us changing which side they are on.

purplepenquin said...

Not just that war, but they also won't talk at all about the War on Drugs.

Of course, the fact that both Obama and Romney agree that marijuana is more dangerous that cocaine might be part of why they don't feel the need to discuss it. They both are in favor of current policy and both of them intend to increase it.

Any bets on how soon tobacco is gonna be banned once Romney wins the White House?

William said...

The dog that doesn't bark. The big loser if we pull out of Afghanistan will not be us but the women of Afghanistan. I have never once heard a feminist say anything supportive of our efforts in Afghanistan......Alexander, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and many others have conquered Afghanistan. It's not an impossible feat. At a certain point people stop wanting to die for a lost cause. I don't know when that fulcrum moment will arrive or how to reach it, but I truly think the Taliban are much closer to it than we are.

Michael said...

Purplep. "Any bets on how soon tobacco is gonna be banned once Romney wins the White House?"

Yes you are on. I will bet you 10,000 that tobacco is not banned during Romney's first term. I will agree to let Garage Mahal hold the cash until the end of Romney's first term and to give you twenty thousand dollars if tobacco is a banned substance in the Uas and to give me twenty thousand if it is not. Let me know.

Joe said...

The notion that we could have or could still defeat the Taliban is absurd. The Taliban is based on an ideology which can never be defeated; it can only be made irrelevant. The latter could only be done were Afghanistan a truly modern nation in all respects. It is not and will not be within our lifetimes nor that of our children.

It is critical to note that removing the Taliban from power came primarily by paying off chieftains. They have no real loyalty to the US or democracy; it's a charade to keep the money coming in. The notion that being nice and charitable will fundamentally change Afghanistan is hopelessly naive.

The lives lost there since 2002 have been a waste. Leaving now would only reinforce that, but staying won't make it any less true.

John Lynch said...

Leave. Stop sending Americans to die when we have no idea what we are doing there.

It's not really like Vietnam, because South Vietnam had a state and was a going concern except for the invasion from North Vietnam. Afghanistan isn't even that developed- there is no state and never will be.

frank said...

FACT: More American casulties in the last 2 years than in the previous 8 in Afghanistan. The MSM, BHO, AA commenters and public: crickets.

frank said...

Everything you need to know about Afghanistan is to read Kipling.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Possibly the stupidest foreign policy decision Obama has made was his knuckle headed decision to triple US combat forces in Afghanistan. This was a purely political decision which resulting in thousands of unnecessary US casualties and deaths. Immoral.

EMD said...

The notion that we could have or could still defeat the Taliban is absurd. The Taliban is based on an ideology which can never be defeated; it can only be made irrelevant.

We should extricate ourselves from that situation since the appropriate time for leveling the place has passed.

The ROE are simply not conducive to winning a war in a place as inhospitable and culturally constrained as Afghanistan.

purplepenquin said...

I will bet you 10,000

A $10,000 bet!? Looks like yet another rightwinger that is just as out-of-touch with the common person as Mitt is.

And given the way the actual subject of the message was totally ignored, I'm gonna guess that it is someone who is actually working for the Romney campaign. His staff must have been instructed to divert attention away from this global issue...

Colonel Angus said...

Precisely how is our military to take action in Syria?

Hopefully it won't. Quite frankly, after the last decade of us being an 'international pariah' for overthrowing two oppressive regimes, I'm hard pressed to see why we should expend any energy in stopping Assad.

Sorun said...

"...I'm gonna guess that it is someone who is actually working for the Romney campaign."

This reminds me of when Meade was accused of being a "Walker plant" for asking questions at the protests. There's a certain mind-set, apparently.

paul a'barge said...

Here is the solution:
(1) B52 Bombers
(2) Bunker-buster bombs
(3) Willingness to suffer collateral casualties

Calypso Facto said...

I'll certainly take your bet, Michael, since tobacco is largely a banned substance in the UAS (at least the UAE part of the UAS):
For much of the review period, the government was refining a raft of anti-smoking legislation, with this finally being introduced in 2010. This legislation bans smoking in most enclosed public areas, banned smoking in cars carrying passengers under 12-years-old and banned caf├ęs in residential areas from serving cigarettes and shisha.

Oh, you meant USA? Nevermind. Then I agree...it's not going anywhere.

mariner said...

Skyler,
CLearly you misspoke. The Soviets were our allies in the second world war.

Actually he didn't misspeak.

The Soviets were temporarily our allies for one specific purpose, but have never been our friends.

jimbino said...

I want to talk about it:

Proper English requires "...neither HAS a solution...."

Kirk Parker said...

TosaGuy,

You, in turn, need to stop being humorless--I would have expected a "Heh--good point", in reply. But perhaps you don't know anything about Afghanistan and its history, such as--just for one example--the muj had a fair amount of internal conflict even while fighting the abominated Soviets.

creeley23 said...

Possibly the stupidest foreign policy decision Obama has made was his knuckle headed decision to triple US combat forces in Afghanistan.

Diogenes of Sinope: But close in the running, if not surpassing it in stupidity, was the decision to telegraph our exit date.

I'm not sure what we could have achieved in Afghanistan if we had been serious. But I concluded we should pull out once I saw that it was purely a political decision for Obama, as you point out, and victory was not an option.

tim maguire said...

The problem is, we've never described what victory looks like. I think it looks like chasing the taliban out of power and shuting down the terrorist training camps. We won. In about 3 weeks. What happened since is charity work we don't need to be doing.

john marzan said...

that's the problem with obama's policy of declaring a withdrawal date on afghanistan after 2012. the afghan people who rely on U.S. know they will be leaving soon and the enemy knows knows it too. And they know who supported the americans in the past.

john marzan said...

so many of the afghans who allied with the U.S. have become turncoats and are now secretly in cahoots with the future Afghanistan rulers--the Taliban.

Lindsey Meadows said...

Skyler said...
"The marxists are in charge and so many people don't see the problem or don't care."

That is a fairly idiotic observation.

Lindsey Meadows said...

Diogenes of Sinope said...
Possibly the stupidest foreign policy decision Obama has made was his knuckle headed decision to triple US combat forces in Afghanistan."

right right...sigh...he could have sent them to Iraq..or possibly invade Iran for good measure.....Oh where is Bush/Cheney when you need hard choices.

Lindsey Meadows said...

paul a'barge said...
"(3) Willingness to suffer collateral casualties"

No offense but it isn't we who suffers collateral casualties.

Skyler said...

Perhaps you aren't aware, Lindsey, that Obama has written in his own books that his greatest influences were marxists. Perhaps you aren't aware, Lindsey, that the home of William Ayers, a radical marxist terrorist, is where Obama started his political career.

Perhaps you just aren't really aware of what a marxist is.

If you'd ever studied the rise of marxism throughout the world, and the tactics used by Soviets and other communsts, you'd perhaps see the similarities.

The blind will not see.