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Monday, September 26, 2016


The War in Afghanistan is America’s longest war — and if weren’t the direct result of the 9/11 attacks on America, it would certainly rival Vietnam or Iraq as our most meaningless foreign adventure.

As the initial small-scale invasion of the Asian country was immediately successful in displacing the Taliban, many scoffed at the cliché that Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires.” But the extremist Muslim sect was able to retreat and retrench both in the mountains of their home country and their former ally Pakistan, while the U.S. refocused on Saddam Hussein.

“It is possible in wars against guerrillas to flood cities with troops,” Patrick Porter, a lecturer in defense studies at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Kings College London, said in 2009. “It is much harder to flood mountains. And Afghanistan is a country not of very powerful cities but of thousands of isolated villages cut off in severe winters, allowing guerrillas and insurgents to melt away and return.”

President Obama’s “surge” hasn’t produced the fortuitous results of a similar late-term effort in Iraq. The Taliban is still potent, though tens of thousands of new American troops may have helped keep Osama bin Laden pinned down in Pakistan, allowing the U.S. to track him down and kill him in 2011, providing a rationale for ending the war.

But as the U.S. transitions military control of the country to Afghan forces under President Hamid Karzai with a goal of complete transfer by 2014, the question remains: What are we leaving in Afghanistan?

Literally, we are leaving several military installations. But will they be U.S. or Afghan bases?

Karzai shocked many when he announced that he would be willing to let the U.S. keep its military assets, allowing foreign troops to be stationed in the country indefinitely. This is a step further than what the Obama administration sought.

“As President Obama has made clear, we do not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan,” the American Embassy said in a statement. The deal they’re looking for would “address access to, and use of, Afghan facilities by U.S. forces.”

Ben Anderson went to Afghanistan in 2007 to make a film about the vicious fighting in the country’s most violent province. He didn’t plan on staying for six years. But he did, and “This Is What Winning Looks Like” from Vice News is his story.

You can watch part one above. And it may be one of the most depressing things you’ll ever see in your life.

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  • Lynda Groom

    Of course there is no winning a war in Afghanistan. All one has to do is ask the Russians, the British and if you can find him Alexander the Great.

  • We should have left Afghanistan immediately after the Al Qaeda training camps were destroyed. Emulating the old Soviet Union is not something we should be proud of. The reason there is no winning in Afghanistan is obvious, the Pashtuns are Pathans are the Taliban. We can control them physically, but we cannot control the way they think or their wishes.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Here is a good question concerning our ignoring them and turning to Saddam – how much of that was manufactured revenge for Saddam’s assasination attempt against Bush Senior, how much was because Haliburton could not exercise their oil options due to UN sanctions, and how much was a favor to the House of Sa’ud to eliminate the problem to their north?

    • RobertCHastings

      It could have been all of those, or none. Much has been said about the revenge motive, but I sort of question that one. Even W wasn’t stupid enough to get us into a war over simple revenge. I read several of the booksthat came out during the runup to war and just after, and much was said about Wolfowitz and Cheney, fellow neocons associated with Reagan, who planned the whole thing in the mid-80’s.

  • oldtack

    George W. Bush made one correct decision while in office. That decision was to retaliate against Afghanistan for 9/11 (even though 19 of the 20 attackers were from Saudi Arabia?). The mistake was in staying after the objective was reached.

    No Nation will ever win a war and occupy a Country that is composed of multiple Tribes and War Lords.

    We should have accomplished our mission, withdrew all troops, and left notice that any further aggression against us would be met with massive air strikes, missiles and destruction.

    Exercise Teddy R’s philosophy “speak softly – and carry a BIG stick). That’s all these people understand. They have no concept of diplomacy. Just their religions, deceit, and lies.

    • RobertCHastings

      Bush did exactly that, well, almost. I think it was more talk loudly and carry a big schtick.

  • RobertCHastings

    The initial invasion claimed too much too early, and morphed into Bush’s original desire to invade Iraq, a plan that had been hatching between Cheney and Wolfowitz for twenty years. After initial contact, the Taliban withdrew in the face of superior force, and have since bided their time. When we leave, rest assured they will return, simply because Bush et al shifted focus. If the real focus had been the war on terror, we would have maintained our focus on the Taliban entirely and never entered Iraq as an invader. Sadam Hussein might still be in power in Iraq, or the Arab Spring might have removed him. Either way,we would not be embroiled in “The Neverending Story”.

    • Sand_Cat

      I believe the evidence shows Bush desired to invade Iraq before he even became president.

      • RobertCHastings

        Some want to say it wasin revenge for Hussein’s attempted assasination of George H. W. Bush. However, the plans were in the offing during the mid-80’s with Cheney and Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz contributed an article to a conservative magazine (Salon, I think).

  • To think America helped the Taliban and Osama binLaden to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan. Now America is fighting them against themselves. America should leave them to themselves.

  • mandinka

    Agreed…with barak at the helm it will end up just like Iraq and they HATE us

    • Sand_Cat

      Think Romney or McCain would have done any better? Both of them seem to be working on the next American war; they just haven’t decided if it should be in Iran, Syria, both, or right here at home against Obama.

  • howa4x

    All that money could have been used to fix our crumbling infrastructure. the only nation that needs rebuilding is ours.