Why are we still in Afghanistan?

John Hinderacker at Powerline says “Let’s Get Out.”  I’m inclined to agree. After more than a decade of fighting and “nation-building,” we’re left with a country only marginally better than it was before. Yes, the Taliban isn’t in power, terrorizing people. They’re just waiting in the shadows until we leave, terrorizing people. We cannot stay forever.

The Afghan population is less than a quarter literate. It’s a tribal society now inflamed further by the burning of books used to transmit messages among prisoners. We’ve lost soldiers over this nonsense, and we will lose more when our Commander-in-Chief can’t help but issue apology after apology to our enemies. Two officers were murdered execution-style in a protected office. I’m sure we’ll wait in vain for any justice to be served.

An Army Lieutenant Colonel, Daniel L. Davis, published an article in the Armed Forces Journal this month detailing his year of travels in Afghanistan. It’s not a flattering portrait of Afghani reality or of our presence there, and as a military wife, I can say it’s incredibly depressing when we have so many who sacrifice so much in what seems a vain effort. He writes:

Adviser: “No. They are definitely not capable. Already all across this region [many elements of] the security forces have made deals with the Taliban. [The ANSF] won’t shoot at the Taliban, and the Taliban won’t shoot them.

“Also, when a Taliban member is arrested, he is soon released with no action taken against him. So when the Taliban returns [when the Americans leave after 2014], so too go the jobs, especially for everyone like me who has worked with the coalition.

“Recently, I got a cellphone call from a Talib who had captured a friend of mine. While I could hear, he began to beat him, telling me I’d better quit working for the Americans. I could hear my friend crying out in pain. [The Talib] said the next time they would kidnap my sons and do the same to them. Because of the direct threats, I’ve had to take my children out of school just to keep them safe.

“And last night, right on that mountain there [he pointed to a ridge overlooking the U.S. base, about 700 meters distant], a member of the ANP was murdered. The Taliban came and called him out, kidnapped him in front of his parents, and took him away and murdered him. He was a member of the ANP from another province and had come back to visit his parents. He was only 27 years old. The people are not safe anywhere.”

That murder took place within view of the U.S. base, a post nominally responsible for the security of an area of hundreds of square kilometers. Imagine how insecure the population is beyond visual range. And yet that conversation was representative of what I saw in many regions of Afghanistan.

In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described — and many, many more I could mention — had been in the first year of war, or even the third or fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war.

We are not helping the Afghans. We are certainly not helping ourselves.  Hinderacker:

It has never been clear why we can’t use drones, air power and troops stationed reasonably nearby to prevent the Taliban or other extremist groups from setting up extensive training centers that can be used for attacks on the U.S., such as those that existed before September 2001. If such measures are feasible, leaving Afghanistan should not damage our security. And, in any event, if our security depends on Afghanistan becoming a decent society within a lifetime or two, God help us.


UPDATE: Linked by Pundette as a “Recommended Read.” Thanks!

4 Responses

  1. Glad to see you back blogging in full force.
    I’m not a military strategist, but I always thought that the kind of limited involvement we had with Bush was about right.
    The only negative consequence of leaving Afghanistan is that some people there were willing to work with us, and it’s not a good precedent to leave freinds behind. Then again, they’ll probably end up here as refugees.

    • @Edge, normally I’d say no one who worked with us would be left behind. But this administration gives less than a rat’s rear end about anything military. We saved entire communities of Viet and Hmong in the 70s. Terps (sorry, interpreters) in Iraq had the ability to immigrate. I’m not sure what would happen to the Afghans who have helped us. If they’re left behind, or their families, all will be slaughtered by the Taliban.

      (And thanks, it’s good to be blogging in full force. It makes my brain happy to write!)

  2. And I do agree that we should leave Afghanistan.

  3. President Obama ordered our troops to burn Bibles that were sent to Afghanistan because he didn’t want to offend Muslims. Given that, I find it interesting whenever I’m reminded of his apology for the Qur’an burning. I don’t recall him apologizing to Christians.

    Of course, I do understand that his apologies were, in part, to protect our troops. But I feel he could have dealt with the presence of the Bibles a bit differently. He could have ordered them shipped out of the country if he was so worried about their impact. He didn’t have to have them burned.

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