George Will: Hey, let’s pull out of Afghanistan

posted at 7:48 pm on August 31, 2009 by Allahpundit

Won’t matter a whit to the conservative base, which is The One’s only reliable constituency on Afghanistan, but insofar as it gives the media an irresistible peg on which to hang the withdrawal meme — “even George Will says…” — it’s big news.

“[F]orces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters,” Will writes in the column, scheduled for publication later this week…

The columnist’s startling recommendation surfaced on the same day that Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, sent an assessment up his chain of command recommending what he called “a revised implementation strategy.” In a statement, McChrystal also called for “commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort.”

In the column, Will warns that any nation-building strategy could be impossible to execute given the Taliban’s ability to seemingly disappear into the rugged mountain terrain and the lack of economic development in the war-plagued nation.

I can’t find the column anywhere but The Corner is all over it, starting with a post by Fred Kagan describing Will’s various factual errors (and his sneering at the British contribution, which involved six dead in one day earlier this summer, as “risible”) and concluding with this excellent quick take by Lowry about Will’s grand strategic mistake. This sounds like the old Baker/Hamilton plan for Iraq by another name, i.e. redeploy to get the troops safely out of harm’s way and then use precision strikes to take out terrorists while the country falls to pieces. I never understood how that was supposed to work with Iraq — how would you get the intel for the strikes? what if some areas held by jihadists are too dangerous to penetrate? what about the morality of leaving civilians at the mercy of armed fascists? — but I really don’t understand it in the Afghan context. The whole point of pressuring Pakistan into getting aggressive with the Taliban on their side of the border is to leave Al Qaeda squeezed in the middle; if you pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, you give them a place to run to — a mirror image of what happened in 2001 when Osama and company escaped to Waziristan. Anthony Cordesman, who’s always been a straight shooter in his assessments of Iraq, warns today in WaPo that unless we put some more boots on the ground to clear and hold territory, the country’s finished and we’ll face “an enduring regional mess and sanctuary for extremism” going forward. I’m curious to read Will’s theory for why that won’t happen if we don’t take his advice.

Either way, The One seems serious about not pulling out — yet. Why, his mouthpiece is even using verboten, cowboy, Bush-era terminology!


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OT

Wonder why AP isn’t posting this ad by a wonderful rural republican

Afrolib on August 31, 2009 at 8:59 PM

He opposes the special interests that prevent 25-cent-a-gallon ethanol.

Chris_Balsz on August 31, 2009 at 9:16 PM

George knows better.

Speakup on August 31, 2009 at 9:22 PM

Can’t stand this guy. As someone on the Hugh Hewitt show said – he’s thrown himself body and sole into the embodiment of ABC Conservative Loser, because he knows no other role.

Marcus on August 31, 2009 at 9:22 PM

Maybe George Will was finally convinced by “The One”…..

……… No, not that “One”, this “One”.

Seven Percent Solution on August 31, 2009 at 8:17 PM

Seven Percent Solutions: Good gawd,Cindy Sheehan going
after Obama!

I think she has finally succeeded
in pissing off the Liberal Party
as well!

SPS,thank for thy link!!hehe:)

canopfor on August 31, 2009 at 9:23 PM

“[F]orces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters,” Will writes in the column, scheduled for publication later this week…


Let Afghanistan Go
Diana West
Saturday, April 25, 2009

This week’s column takes in an interview with Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely (USA ret.) about how we can axe the Afghan albatross and contain jihad terror at the same time.

I decided to ask someone with real military experience how we could fend off jihad without further digging ourselves into Central Asia. I called up retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, one of the few top military leaders who talks on the record, to ask for his strategy recommendation for Afghanistan.

“Basically, let it go,” he said.

Let Afghanistan go — music to my ears, particularly given the source is no Hate-America-First professor or Moveon-dot-org-nik, but a lifelong patriotic conservative warrior. “There’s nothing to win there,” he explained, engaging in an all-too-exotic display of common sense. “What do you get for it? What’s the return? Well, the return’s all negative for the United States.”

The general continued: “This doesn’t mean giving up battle. What it means is you transition to a more realistic, affordable strategy that keeps them (the jihadist enemy) from spreading.”

Such a strategy, Vallely explained, relies on “the maximum use of unconventional forces,” such as Navy SEALS and other special forces, who can be deployed as needed from what are known in military parlance as “lily pads” — outposts or jumping-off points in friendly countries (Israel, Northern Kurdistan, India, Philippines, Italy, Djibouti … ) and from U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups. Such strike groups generally include eight to 10 vessels “with more fire power,” the general noted, “than most nations.” These lily pads become “bases we can launch from any time we want to,” eliminating the need for massive land bases such as Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, by now a small city of 20,000 American personnel who continuously need to be supplied and secured at enormous expense.

“There’s no permanent force,” the general said. “That’s the beauty of it.” We watch, we wait and when U.S. interests are threatened, “we basically use our strike forces to take them out, target by target.” This would work whether the threat came from Al Qaeda, Pakistani nukes or anything else.

He continued: “This idea that we’re going to go in and bring democracy to these tribal cultures isn’t going to work. If we have a problem with terrorist countries, like Iran, it’s a lot cheaper to go in and hit them and get back out.”

In other words, don’t give up the battle; just give up the nation-building. “It’s up to somebody else to build nations,” the general said. “Not us.”

He went on: That old myth that (Colin) Powell had — if you break it you own it — that’s a myth. You break it, you decide whether you own it. You don’t have to go in and own it.”

And especially not when it is Islamic land that doesn’t belong in the West.

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 9:25 PM

Hey terryannonline! Here’s your answer:

each and every soldier will get the CIA interrogation and lawyer opinion scrutiny treatment!!(Sarc):)

canopfor on August 31, 2009 at 8:20 PM
Obama hates the military, too.

ROCnPhilly on August 31, 2009 at 8:30 PM

ROCnPhilly:–:)

canopfor on August 31, 2009 at 9:25 PM

I can’t find the column anywhere but The Corner is all over it, starting with a post by Fred Kagan describing Will’s various factual errors (and his sneering at the British contribution, which involved six dead in one day earlier this summer, as “risible”) and concluding with this excellent quick take by Lowry about Will’s grand strategic mistake.

Fred Kagan

Is a picture worth a thousand words?

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 9:32 PM

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 9:25 PM

Interesting take, I find myself leaning that way seeing as how Afghanistan is such a backward place these days.

Bishop on August 31, 2009 at 9:35 PM

The Afghan Mountainous Tribal Areas are one big fat ambush designed by Al Queda. There is only one road anywhere you go and that road now has more Bombs buried in it than roaches are in in a NY restaurant kitchens. Anyone for fighting there also wants to see 10 replays of Peleliu Island which wiped out the Ist Marines for NO TACTICAL PURPOSE. At least Iwo Jima had a tactial purpose, but if it had not had one it would have been the worst decision in the history of warfare to capture it. Start thinking like a warrior and not like another politician.

jimw on August 31, 2009 at 9:36 PM

Why is anyone bothering to pay George Will for his comments?

Jeff from WI on August 31, 2009 at 9:38 PM

Afghanistan is pretty hopeless in terms of building a nation. They have no real economy, they have no institutions and it is basically a tribal wasteland. Obama doesn’t have the sack to do what it would take and there is little public support for staying there for the next 10 years. We are also running out of money. We have massive domestic problems to solve as well and our so-called allies have all bailed for the most part. It isn’t fair to keep our guys there if we are not going to play to win. So, I have to agree with Will, albeit for slightly different reasons.

echosyst on August 31, 2009 at 9:41 PM

Forgive me if I am reading too much into this but:

Shouldn’t George Will just admit abject failure to understand international policy and agree to never, ever comment again?

Or was that the other George Will?

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2009 at 9:42 PM

Anyone for fighting there also wants to see 10 replays of Peleliu Island which wiped out the Ist Marines for NO TACTICAL PURPOSE.

jimw on August 31, 2009 at 9:36 PM

jimw: Good analogy,the Island hopping to Japan was designed
to stall for time,so the home country could prepare,
and a kill-zone to take out as many Americans as poss
ible!!

canopfor on August 31, 2009 at 9:42 PM

My understanding is that they are talking about A LOT MORE than two years. And they are not talking about a push to secure the country but rather a sustained effort to engage in nation building.

D0WNT0WN on August 31, 2009 at 8:40 PM

The reason that worked with Germany and Japan is because there was a nation there to rebuild to begin with. It was like knocking down a brick house – you still had bricks to rebuild with.

How does it help troop morale by saying their Commander in Chief wants them to lose? I don’t see how that helps anybody.

terryannonline on August 31, 2009 at 8:31 PM

About the first thing he did when he got into office was he told us vets that he wants us to pay for our war wounds with private health care (as a way to punish private health care and get his single-payer system). Recently he started up the VA “death book” telling us that our lives aren’t worth living and we’re just a burden. His political mentor planned to bomb an NCO dance at Fort Dix. The man hates the military as they stand for the Constitution and against him.

This may explay why he’s backing Hondo’s ex-President and Would-be Dictator-for-Life Zelaya against a military that enforces Constitutional mandates.

I didn’t like being lied to when I was active, I like it less now.

CPL 310 on August 31, 2009 at 9:45 PM

Afghanistan is only a failure because the people in charge choose to make it one. The victory conditions should be built off our basic defensive strategy – deterrence and retaliation. Since deterrence didn’t work due to Clinton not whacking Osama when he had the chance, we’re left with victory conditions like this:
1. Retaliation – Obliterate Al Qaeda, their Taliban allies, and all who aid them in their terrorist networks
2. Deterrence – Go several steps away in the network to obliterate them all. If they raise their heads, stomp the terrorist cell, it’s allies, it’s parent organization, the state that hosts them, the state that hosts their funding, and anyone and everyone who supports them into oblivion.

CPL 310 on August 31, 2009 at 9:49 PM

There are far better ways to deal with Afghanistan than an attempted repeat of what the Russians tried and failed, which is what we’re doing now basically, even with some allied help. There is one difference, we haven’t been there long enough to get as demoralized as the Russians were, and we aren’t as prone to corruption in the military as they were (are).

I think we should pull out, but on a timetable that isn’t advertised. Notice should be given to the leaders there AND in Pakistan that we’re going to leave the horror show to them, and they better get on the ball, like NOW.

If training camps pop up. Make them pop all the way up, as in up in smoke.

If Pakistan needs air support, give it. Same with Afghanistan, support them, but lets get out of the way.

I’ve always said our clandestine operations always achieve more than wads of men, bombs, and bullets. Lets start using our intelligence people rather than putting them on trial, eh?

Spiritk9 on August 31, 2009 at 9:51 PM

Maybe I’m missing something here. I mean, we’re going to have kind of a nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not. Our military’s meant to fight and win war. That’s what it’s meant to do. And when it gets overextended, morale drops. But I’m going to be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the exit strategy obvious.
- George W. Bush (October 11, 2000)

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 9:52 PM

Obamugabe couldn’t poor piss out of a boot even if the directions were on the heel.

TheSitRep on August 31, 2009 at 9:52 PM

Saudi whack-a-mole. Play til the Caliphs come home.

BL@KBIRD on August 31, 2009 at 9:53 PM

The Obama Administration has declared the “War on Terror” over. So, I ask, shouldn’t the troops come home? As long as this administration wants victory, then I’m on board. But, if they are wage a PR war, then the guys and gals needs to come home.

tdavisjr on August 31, 2009 at 9:54 PM

Fight for real to crush the enemy and establish a secular state run along the lines of your unquestionable dictates!, or just bomb jihadist troublemakers from afar and let them stew their luckless brethren in 1400 year old Muslim-lunacy until such brethren revolt and destroy their fellow fanatics.

Will will not say one or the other, so his thinking is fey.

Dying to maintain an Islamic state is simply a disguised form of losing.

profitsbeard on August 31, 2009 at 9:55 PM

A convert to Christianity couldn’t live in Afghanistan – could not even get out of the country alive without strong Western pressure. And that’s OK with the law in Afghanistan because it’s Islamic law, under an Islamic constitution, which it has to be in order to be acceptable to Afghans.

That tells me that the Islamic state of Afghanistan is a bad thing and not worth preserving, and the same is true for the Islamic population there.

We should get out. If the problem is that we can’t let the lucrative poppy fields fall into the hands of the Taliban, salt the earth and get out. The population won’t like it, but they’re not our friends anyway and never can be.

David Blue on August 31, 2009 at 9:55 PM

profitsbeard: Dying to maintain an Islamic state is simply a disguised form of losing.

Yes.

David Blue on August 31, 2009 at 9:58 PM

Saudi whack-a-mole. Play til the Caliphs come home.

BL@KBIRD on August 31, 2009 at 9:53 PM

We played it back in the end of the 1700s and beginning of the 1800s and that certainly worked.

If you play whack-a-mole with the plastic mallet that comes with the game, you play a long time. If you do it with a 20-pound sledge, like we did with the Barbary Pirates, the game is over for the mole. (I don’t advise trying this at an arcade.)

CPL 310 on August 31, 2009 at 10:00 PM

I agree with Will on this one. We should leave Afghanistan. We cannot win using the current strategy and any strategy that would truly make a difference by actually improving people’s lives enough to give them a reason not to join the insurgency and to support the governemnt would cost too much in both blood and treasure.

King of the Britons on August 31, 2009 at 10:03 PM

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 9:52 PM

What was good is now bad, except when it’s good. Then what is bad is now good, except when it is bad. Why the pushback? Groupthink is good. Groupthink is good. Groupthink is good….

Oh yeah, groupthink is good. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Yes we can….

Oh, I forgot. Groupthink is good.

hillbillyjim on August 31, 2009 at 10:05 PM

I have not completely given up on the new Pakistani democracy yet. The strategy of the Pakistani army being the hammer against the US secured Afghanistan as the anvil is premature since Afghanistan is not yet an anvil. The Pakistani army says they are waiting until Spring to hit Waziristan in the Northwest tribal area. Hopefully they are serious, it not maybe the pakistani public outraged by the devastation in Bruner, Swat and Dir and the hardship of all the refugees will give them reason to be serious.

If Pakistan’s government and army cannot find the will to fight to a conclusion, then ultimately we will have to either leave Afghanistan or attack Pakistan. With 70% of our supplies coming through Pakistan, we can’t just sit still. The other route in is through Putin’s Russia — a dubious ally at best.

KW64 on August 31, 2009 at 10:05 PM

There is no nation to build. It’s a giant wate pit, the vaste majority of govt officials are corrupt drug traders, 90% of the population can’t read or write, there is no infrastructure, the majority of the population subscribe to a death cult religion. It will take decades perhaps a century to build any semblance of a nation there. Read Yon.

Alden Pyle on August 31, 2009 at 10:05 PM

Hey George, stick to what you know best: defeating the grave menace facing America that is denim jeans.

Norwegian on August 31, 2009 at 10:07 PM

As an army veteran, I’m certainly no pacifist, but if we aren’t going to “fight to win” I don’t think we should be fighting at all. Ever since ‘Nam – when politicians took total control of the execution of the war – we’ve lost sight of the fact that wars cost lives – American lives and those American lives are NOT pawns to be moved about the battlefield with “acceptable loses” being absorbed on a daily basis. That’s more or less what’s been happening ever since the Johnson debacle in Vietnam – with the lone exception of the ‘91 Gulf War.

Today, I don’t agree with Will. But, I’d really like to see some “military types” making the critical decisions in that region…rather than turning our kids into political pawns in yet another of the world’s hell-holes.

GoldenEagle4444 on August 31, 2009 at 9:08 PM

In our country one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out. War is at best barbarism. Its glory is all moonshine. War is hell.
- William Tecumseh Sherman

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 10:14 PM

If Bill Clinton had invaded Afghanistan after a terrorist attack comparable to 9/11, would any conservative be supporting it 8 years later?

Speedwagon82 on August 31, 2009 at 10:17 PM

George Will is a good conservative.

He’s trying to stop one of the occupations, and he will also try to stop Sarah Palin from every being president, which is a good thing too.

Spathi on August 31, 2009 at 10:18 PM

Alden Pyle on August 31, 2009 at 10:05 PM

That is all too true. The sheer demographics of it tell the tale:

The country has been in a perpetual state of war for 30 years.
The life expectancy is 43 yrs.
The median age of the people of Afghanistan is around 17.
Roughly 85% of the country is 25 yrs or younger.

That aside, there is little security, very little infrastructure, even fewer capable government or civic administrators or leaders, almost no professional class within the country, and it is a tribal-centric culture that has historically had little to no desire for any sort of central government.

King of the Britons on August 31, 2009 at 10:18 PM

In our country one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out. War is at best barbarism. Its glory is all moonshine. War is hell.
- William Tecumseh Sherman

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 10:14 PM

Note that Sherman’s philosophy on war was decidedly different from that of the country he was fighting.

CPL 310 on August 31, 2009 at 10:25 PM

Alden Pyle on August 31, 2009 at 10:05 PM

Roger that!

Humanitarian aid/support for the elected government and maintain Bagram as the firebase from which we can mercilessly persue and butcher our enemies.

dmann on August 31, 2009 at 10:27 PM

George Will is an idiot. Always has been.

HondaV65 on August 31, 2009 at 10:28 PM

Why in the hell don’t we just level those freaking mountains and then come home!

Eyvonne on August 31, 2009 at 10:34 PM

Note that Sherman’s philosophy on war was decidedly different from that of the country he was fighting.

CPL 310 on August 31, 2009 at 10:25 PM

War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want. My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.
- William Tecumseh Sherman

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 10:34 PM

This is one issue that never fails to tick me off, largely from the endless pontificating by elites who don’t understand the concept, mission, or capabilities of Special Forces. Green Berets are meant to successfully enlist the local population to fight back in order to disrupt enemy forces.

Having said that, the job at hand – making sure Afghanistan doesn’t become the kind of jihadist playground it was pre-9/11 – requires a substantially DEEPER commitment than disrupting enemy forces. This is why the bulk of our forces are being committed to it! Makes sense. A bigger scale for a bigger problem.

Put it another way: for years and years, we’ve been told the problem with Iraq was that Rumsfeld erroneously believed that too little troops could manage too much (I agree with that assessment). Now we’re told we can accomplish nearly as much with REMOTE DRONE STRIKES (that liberals love to hate) and 10-12 man teams hopscotching ’round the country.

IDIOCY.

Black Yoshi on August 31, 2009 at 10:35 PM

Yes, he is a nitwit, but he wears lovey yellow pants.

mobydutch on August 31, 2009 at 10:38 PM

MB4 on August 31, 2009 at 10:34 PM

It is well that war is so terrible, or we should get too fond of it.
- Sherman

I refer specifically to the North’s mode of fighting that often consisted of throwing ever-increasing numbers of men into a battle.

CPL 310 on August 31, 2009 at 10:40 PM

The Afghan Mountainous Tribal Areas are one big fat ambush designed by Al Queda. There is only one road anywhere you go and that road now has more Bombs buried in it than roaches are in in a NY restaurant kitchens. Anyone for fighting there also wants to see 10 replays of Peleliu Island which wiped out the Ist Marines for NO TACTICAL PURPOSE. At least Iwo Jima had a tactial purpose, but if it had not had one it would have been the worst decision in the history of warfare to capture it. Start thinking like a warrior and not like another politician.

jimw on August 31, 2009 at 9:36 PM

amen

funky chicken on August 31, 2009 at 10:42 PM

Hey, Poindexter. Stick to being a baseball religionist. It’ll end up being less embarrassing in the long run.

ppaint on August 31, 2009 at 10:43 PM

MORE RUBBLE, LESS TROUBLE.

Maquis on August 31, 2009 at 10:50 PM

I get the impression that it is warlords, heroin producers/traffickers, and ethnic/tribal leaders who are really running Afghanistan. And their constantly shifting alliances mixed with ethnic hatreds and billions in drug money make Afghanistan not really a country or nation state but just a geographical region marked by an almost martian landscape and near lawlessness. How many of our bravest, our boldest, our finest, should die fighting for a country that produces most of the world’s heroin (and not much else) and where Christian converts must fear for their lives?

D0WNT0WN on August 31, 2009 at 7:54 PM

excellent comment

funky chicken on August 31, 2009 at 10:56 PM

If we do not finish what we started in Afghanistan will we be back in another 10 or 15 years, sound familiar?

thmsmgnm on August 31, 2009 at 10:58 PM

The 3rd Basic Combat Training Brigade field house, Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, January 1968. Troops learning the finer maneuvers of hand-to-hand combat and bayonet skills viewed a 10X life size mural painted on one wall of the field house depicting a burly American soldier putting the heel of his combat boot squarely through the skull of a hapless enemy troop sniveling on the ground.

The caption painted in larger than life blood red letters read; “NO WAR WAS EVER WON WITH COMPASSION OR CONSCIENCE. K I L L !”

We didn’t quibble with Emperor Hirohito, or Adolph Hitler. Our troops went in with ONE objective in mind. DESTROY your enemy, TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY, because he will surely do everything to destroy you given the chance.

We’ve unfortunately now evolved into a crybaby nation of chicken-sh1t weasel lawyers and “diplomat” c*nts that are woefully lacking in guts, integrity and resolve to vanquish the 3rd world slime that would gladly bring an end to Western civilization to promote their 7th century ideology.

You pathetic sissies that think you’ll placate these insane psychopaths go ahead and try. Me ?? I learned my lesson back at Ft. Leonard Wood, and I damn sure won’t go down cowering like you fools.

bannedbyhuffpo on August 31, 2009 at 11:00 PM

Who do we bomb? The Taliban will surround themselves with a civilian populace and every time you spot a target it will come with collateral damage.

Or we could do the difficult thing – expand our presence at a critical juncture – and gain (and hold) the initiative. More drones, more special forces, more snipers and more marines and infantry.

BadgerHawk on August 31, 2009 at 8:12 PM

So our own military members should keep dying because Taliban bastards will use their own women and children as human shields?

If the men of Afghanistan think so little of their women and children, I’m not sure why I should care. Sorry if that’s harsh, but I’m tired of watching my husband leave for deployments to that hell hole. 8 years is a long time. I can guarantee my kids have had enough as well. My son deserves to have his dad around.

funky chicken on August 31, 2009 at 11:04 PM

MORE RUBBLE, LESS TROUBLE.

Maquis on August 31, 2009 at 10:50 PM

Excellent.

Someone knows what is best in life!

CPL 310 on August 31, 2009 at 11:15 PM

funky chicken on August 31, 2009 at 11:04 PM

So, do we stay and fight a war trying to build a country where people actually have something to where they won’t be so willing to join an insurgency? And in doing so, do we put our own soldiers at risk because every single person we kill who is not a legitimate combatant creates more insurgents and enemies?

We surely cannot kill everyone or that would defeat the entire purpose of being there since 2001, wouldn’t it?

So what to do? We should leave. We cannot fix or build Afghanistan. We should leave and keep a close eye on things going on as best we can. We can return everytime we see a need to return and kill those who seek to attack us.

King of the Britons on August 31, 2009 at 11:16 PM

To all those ripping on Will, what should we be doing that will actually happen under a Obama administration? If after three more years of not increasing troops and resources and all we have, as Micheal Yon put it, diminishing influence on the Taliban and AQ. Is it worth it? If you think it is fine, make your argument. This reactionary crap of disparaging a guy like Will just cause he has a different view then you, grows old. Will has been a solid advocate of the conservative cause for over thirty years, what have you guys done?

I don’t really know what to think of Afghanistan, the picture guys like Yon paints isn’t pretty but I’m inclined to think our presence is still needed. That doesn’t mean I’m just going to dismiss guys like Will or Hugh Fitzgerald just to be an internet tough guy.

lowandslow on August 31, 2009 at 11:21 PM

So what to do? We should leave. We cannot fix or build Afghanistan. We should leave and keep a close eye on things going on as best we can. We can return everytime we see a need to return and kill those who seek to attack us.

King of the Britons on August 31, 2009 at 11:16 PM

I hope the irony is not lost on you, considering this part of your post:

that would defeat the entire purpose of being there since 2001, wouldn’t it?

Leaving now would be leaving Afghanistan and the ME in general in a worse state than when we began.

Black Yoshi on August 31, 2009 at 11:24 PM

lowandslow on August 31, 2009 at 11:21 PM

Did you oppose the Democratic position on Iraq (specifically, Hillary’s) in ’08? This position is basically ’08 redux.

Airpower/remote strikes have never won a war against an unconventional foe. The sole use of airpower did the Serbs in – no NATO ground invasion – but in this kind of a conflict, airpower only would be worse than doing nothing.

Human shields.

Black Yoshi on August 31, 2009 at 11:29 PM

Black Yoshi on August 31, 2009 at 11:24 PM

Yes, it is a terrible irony. So what do we do? Do we stay and continue to execute a failed strategy indefinitely? We cannot force democracy on a failed/destroyed state that has neither the capacity nor the desire to have any central government running their lives. Especially one that has shown ZERO ability to provide security or any of the typical services of a central government. We cannot kill or capture our way to victory in Afghanistan. We may be able to build and secure our way to something resembling victory but is it worth the cost? I say no.

King of the Britons on August 31, 2009 at 11:30 PM

Anthony Cordesman, who’s always been a straight shooter in his assessments of Iraq, warns today in WaPo that unless we put some more boots on the ground to clear and hold territory, the country’s finished and we’ll face “an enduring regional mess and sanctuary for extremism” going forward.

Obama’s only desire in Afghanistan is to “surrender with style”.
He has already stated repeatedly that after the elections he is looking for an exit strategy.
democrats on the hill have stated repeatedly that funding will be cut if the security situation does not improve dramatically in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Pakistan has already announced that it is not going to commence an assault on the Taliban.
Afghanistan is no where near being able to field an army or police force that is not corrupt and can protect the population from the jihadist.

Whether you are for winning in Afghanistan or not,Obama made it clear during his campaigning that he had a better plan and this was the “right war” to fight and that it had to be “won”. He also said getting Osama was “top priority”.

Obama is only concerned with pushing his socialist agenda in the US and the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan are only in the way.
He will fail miserably in Afghanistan which will probably embolden the terrorist in other areas (such as the al-qaeda leaders that have made their way back to Syria to start their terror campaigns in Iraq again) to claim victory thus proving America to be the paper tiger Osama said we were.
He won’t get away with blaming Bush for this either since these are his generals and his new plan of “smart power”.

His war with the CIA and the many military leaders that have recommended a much bolder effort will also undermine the coming spin from the Obama administration as they slow bleed out of Afghanistan.

For a group of people so worried about what the international community thinks about us, what the he!! does Obama think the world is going to think of almost 10 years of war ending in failure but turned into victory for the jihadist.

It is certainly time to stop with the pathetic Lincoln and FDR comparisons of Obama because neither of them surrendered.Neither did Bush.

Obama’s Presidency will not survive his failures overseas combined with inept domestic policy.

Exactly the kind of Presidency many of us said we would get from this failed community organizer.

Baxter Greene on August 31, 2009 at 11:32 PM

We cannot force democracy on a failed/destroyed state that has neither the capacity nor the desire to have any central government running their lives.

I would argue against this assertion. The capacity for central government is there – it’s not working because corruption is gumming it up. The desire for central, democratic government is also there. Did you see the Headlines item about the Afghan farmer who wanted to vote today?

Especially one that has shown ZERO ability to provide security or any of the typical services of a central government.

You hit the issue on the head there. Security. Something that is lacking.

Democracy needs security. Analysts wondered why Iraq’s first electoral results were so polarized towards the Shi’ite and Sunni factions, instead of the secularist sector, before they realized that the people were simply voting reflexively out of fear. Eventually, the results gravitated towards something that was expected out of Iraq in the first place – when people felt increased security.

Security of voting would enable voters to discern rationally and root out corruption. If we have a greater presence, we can also establish alternative employment for many who join the Taliban. (that IS one of the bigger problems there)

All of this takes greater manpower – hence, why we are going to commit that.

Black Yoshi on August 31, 2009 at 11:37 PM

Black Yoshi on August 31, 2009 at 11:29 PM

As has been pointed out, Iraq is not Afghanistan. In Iraq they had in place a lot more infrastructure, were more secular and were more, for lack of a better term, civilized.
I wish I had a good answer on what we should do, maybe containing AQ on the Afghan/Pakistan border is worth it but I’m having huge doubts if we can reshape/restructure the country of Afghanistan in any positive way.

lowandslow on August 31, 2009 at 11:39 PM

Has the US ever figured out what the Afghan farmers are going to grow instead of opium?

slp on August 31, 2009 at 11:43 PM

I would argue against this assertion. The capacity for central government is there – it’s not working because corruption is gumming it up.

What capacity for central government is there? There is a drastic shortage of any qualified or skilled statesmen, administrators, or anyone who knows how to create, sustain, or run a government. They all left during the Soviet/Afghan war and the terrible civil war after that. That is why there is such corruption. No one knows what they are doing. There is no infrastructure, little to build an economy upon, and literally an illiterate, uneducated population. Where do you find capacity in that?

The desire for central, democratic government is also there. Did you see the Headlines item about the Afghan farmer who wanted to vote today?

The history of Afghanistan would argue with you on this one.

King of the Britons on August 31, 2009 at 11:46 PM

There is a drastic shortage of any qualified or skilled statesmen, administrators, or anyone who knows how to create, sustain, or run a government. They all left during the Soviet/Afghan war and the terrible civil war after that.

How, exactly, are you sure? Because the government is corrupt?

The history of Afghanistan would argue with you on this one.

King of the Britons on August 31, 2009 at 11:46 PM

How so?

Black Yoshi on August 31, 2009 at 11:52 PM

I don’t really give a lick what the Communist asshat Obama has to say (or George Will for that matter), but we definitely should get the hell out of Afghanistan. Why are we there? For what noble purpose are our soldiers dying? For this?

How about this?

All for this?

No thank you. Afghanistan does not want the democracy we’re trying to shove down their throats, they don’t like us, and our presence there isn’t making us any safer here (what with our borders wide open).

Get the hell out of there and let them rebuild their own damn country. Only with this promise: If you threaten us again with another Taliban-style government, we’ll come right back here and blow you up all over again. That should be how we deal with these Islamic nations. You stay on your side of the world, we’ll stay on ours. Other than that we should have nothing to do with them.

2Brave2Bscared on August 31, 2009 at 11:57 PM

I don’t really give a lick what the Communist Obama has to say (or George Will for that matter), but we definitely should get the hell out of Afghanistan. Why are we there? For what noble purpose are our soldiers dying? For this?

How about this?

All for this?

No thank you. Afghanistan does not want the democracy we’re trying to shove down their throats, they don’t like us, and our presence there isn’t making us any safer here (what with our borders wide open).

Get the hell out of there and let them rebuild their own damn country. Only with this promise: If you threaten us again with another Taliban-style government, we’ll come right back here and blow you up all over again. That should be how we deal with these Islamic nations. You stay on your side of the world, we’ll stay on ours. Other than that we should have nothing to do with them.

2Brave2Bscared on August 31, 2009 at 11:57 PM

Such a strategy, Vallely explained, relies on “the maximum use of unconventional forces,” such as Navy SEALS and other special forces, who can be deployed as needed from what are known in military parlance as “lily pads” — outposts or jumping-off points in friendly countries (Israel, Northern Kurdistan, India, Philippines, Italy, Djibouti … ) and from U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups. Such strike groups generally include eight to 10 vessels “with more fire power,” the general noted, “than most nations.” These lily pads become “bases we can launch from any time we want to,” eliminating the need for massive land bases such as Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, by now a small city of 20,000 American personnel who continuously need to be supplied and secured at enormous expense.

“There’s no permanent force,” the general said. “That’s the beauty of it.” We watch, we wait and when U.S. interests are threatened, “we basically use our strike forces to take them out, target by target.” This would work whether the threat came from Al Qaeda, Pakistani nukes or anything else

Right, because weather in the mountains is never a barrier to air travel.
Also, we avoid bombing mosques and the ubiquitous weddings which do so much damage to our prestige in the villages that shelter Al Qaeda, and focus instead on the terrorist gatherings that actually harm our interests.
Yes sir, Haji has got to know when he gathers 50 of his top commanders and their bodyguards in a non-mosque, non-cultural festival setting, he is just five hours away from from a flyover by an American jet, weather and all Muslim states between permitting. No doubt about it, as we become totally absent from the daily life of Afghanistan, except for a loud head shattering boom from time to time, the respect for the Americans and their relentless courage will shine more brightly than the fear of Muhmad the Ax and his six cousins, all of whom know where you live, and the locals WILL agree to rat him out to the unseen ferengi out of the goodness of their hearts.

What a brilliant plan, that avoids so much silly romanticism of actually trying to make a difference in the lives of the savage Pathans.

/sarc

Anyone for fighting there also wants to see 10 replays of Peleliu Island which wiped out the Ist Marines for NO TACTICAL PURPOSE.

jimw on August 31, 2009 at 9:36 PM

They learnt something about amphibious warfare every time. we would not have won Iwo Jima without the lessons we learnt at Peleiu, Saipan and Entiewok.

But many of us are in fact sick at the thought of increased combat under commanders who have ruled out a military solution. That’s what Mullen told Congress, anyhow.

Chris_Balsz on September 1, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Black Yoshi on August 31, 2009 at 11:37 PM

If you want to waste your time, money and life trying to give the Afghans something they 1) do not want and 2) are not even capable of sustaining, all so that they can still hate your guts, go right ahead. But leave me and the rest of the country out of it.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 12:02 AM

These are two pretty good analysis of the Afghanistan war and what needs to be done:

Obama’s Afghan Plan Refuses to Embrace Victory
Posted By Jeff Emanuel On August 15, 2009 @ 12:00 am In Afghanistan, US News, World News |
http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/obamas-afghan-plan-refuses-to-embrace-victory/

This spring, after nearly two years of campaigning on a platform of withdrawal from Iraq and a refocusing of American efforts on that deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan (an area Democrats spent the majority of the Bush years referring to as the location of “the real war on terror”), President Barack Obama unveiled his administration’s Afghan strategy. That strategy is currently being implemented in the region.

Now, as the focus shifts eastward, Petraeus is warning those willing to listen not to expect as astonishingly quick or complete turnaround in Afghanistan as the coalition forces under his command achieved in Iraq. This is due, in part, to the vast differences in terrain (both geographic and human), and because the former lacks both the infrastructure and the willingness to accept a sizable and sustained presence of foreign troops that helped make a rapid turnaround in Iraq possible.


Unfortunately, as the upcoming installments on this topic will demonstrate, Obama’s strategy for the Afghan/Pakistani front in this conflict and his unwillingness to embrace victory as an outcome reflect a lack of understanding about (or, worse, an overall unwillingness to accept) the facts on the ground in the region, the significance of America’s fight there, and the high cost of failure.


Obama’s lack of leadership in stating a commitment to victory is not lost on the jihadist or the Afghanistan population.

Micheal Yon has an expert take on this as usual:

YON: Obama plan for Afghanistan, Pakistan short on bold
Michael Yon, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
ANALYSIS/OPINION:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/apr/02/obama-plan-for-afghanistan-pakistan-short-on-bold/

During his March 27 announcement, Mr. Obama said that critical assets were diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq. That’s true, but it’s not the only reason why Afghanistan is in trouble. For a variety of reasons – history, geography, people – Iraq is remarkably different than AfPak.


Most Americans know that Mr. Obama did not support the invasion of Iraq. But what should also be acknowledged, as long as some are dwelling on the past, is that Mr. Obama did not support the surge. Had we followed his advice, we would have lost the Iraq war. Other members in his current crew wanted to partition Iraq, an idea met with incredulity by the Iraqis.

This is a major point. Not only was Mr. Obama and crew appallingly ill-informed about the state of progress and possibilities in Iraq, but as late as July 2008 he was still opposing the troop surge, still trumpeting his wisdom in opposing the war, and in fact seemed to want Iraq to fail. Today he is careful in characterizing any success in Iraq, lest it be interpreted correctly that he was wrong about the facts, or worse still, understood the facts but misrepresented them. This administration carries severe credibility burdens concerning issues of foreign policy and national security.

Most people understand that Afghanistan is different from Iraq,especially concerning economic possibilities,infrastructure,tribal customs,and terrain.

Elements of what was successful in Iraq would be combined with the differing elements that are needed to progress with the Afghani people.
Just like with any war,there will be trial an error but if the people know you are committed to their security and victory over the jihadist, past evidence shows that they will embrace “their” style of democracy and reject the sadistic jihadist that want to oppress them.
Pakistan would also have to be dealt with more severely and backed up with action.If they won’t address the training camps…we will.
Say goodbye to the billions in funding also.

Obama shows no leadership in reflecting a commitment to securing the people and defeating the jihadist.
He has also started a war with our intelligence services that will seriously compromise future intel success which is so vital in war.

It will be impossible for the liberals not to politicize this while they are in power.Obama will not take the advice of the military that will deliver reality and tough,un-popular solutions. He will instead look to get out with as little political fallout as possible.As usual, it will be all about him and the liberal agenda, not what is best for America and our allies.

Baxter Greene on September 1, 2009 at 12:07 AM

How, exactly, are you sure? Because the government is corrupt?

Read Rais’ “Recovering the Frontier State : War, Ethnicity, and State in Afghanistan” or Rashid’s “Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia”, or Marsden’s “The Taliban: War and Religion in Afghanistan” to learn about some of the effects of the Soviet Afghan war and the post Soviet Civil War upon the population of Afghanistan. There are a number of sources who can corroborate the fact that there is a paucity of any sort of administrative or professional skill within that country.

How so?

Again, here there are numerous sources citing the traditional weakness of any central Afghan government and that population’s aversion to it.

King of the Britons on September 1, 2009 at 12:09 AM

The only lesson learned at Peleliu was to by-pass frontal assaults on fortified positions. That is the same lesson that we had been teaching the Japanese until that tactical change on their part. The question remains whether adding 30,000 more targets to the Al Queda ambush and bombing range in the Mountains is a good strategy for us or for our enemy? The National Guard units are being sent in behind the Marines to become a never ending supply of targets. For what reason no one knows, except to destroy the American military and the reputation of David Petreius with it. Why, or who, wants that to happen??? Re-learning hard lessons is not a strategy. There is no reason to be there period.

jimw on September 1, 2009 at 12:15 AM

People forget we aren’t fighting for the current population. We are fighting for the next generation. Every day that one of our fine soldiers stands in front of a young Afghan boy or girl and shows them there is a better life outside the hell hole they live in now, we win.

As for occupation, it is my understanding that more than once Afghanistan was in fact conquered and occupied. They get a reputation of being unconquerable from the media and some biased opinion makers. Everybody points to the Russians as an example, but it was a different time and a different approach. We aren’t there to occupy, we are there to show them a different way of life and keep the Taliban and Al Qaeda from getting organized to the point where they can strike out. As it is, we have forced them into mountains and across the border and that is a victory. I don’t care how many PBS specials you see about them running around the tops of frigid mountains seemingly unfazed, that is bull. They are human and suffer just like we do. If they loved it so much, they would have built all their towns on top of snowy peaks. No, they want back into the valleys and back into the towns. When they sneak down, we’ll shoot them up and run them back into the mountains.

With a normal president, I would say expect to be there for another ten years, slowly turning the tide. With this guy in charge, who knows.

archer52 on September 1, 2009 at 12:16 AM

What is it, exactly, are we trying to accomplish there?

Everytime I ask this question, all I get is a blank stare.

Saltysam on September 1, 2009 at 12:19 AM

with this promise: If you threaten us again with another Taliban-style government, we’ll come right back here and blow you up all over again.

2Brave2Bscared on August 31, 2009 at 11:57 PM

Strap Bill Maher to a Tomahawk missile and let ‘er rip.

Saltysam on September 1, 2009 at 12:26 AM

MB4, CPL 310, funky chicken, Black Yoshi, 2Brave2Bscared, Chris_Balsz, jimw, Baxter Greene, archer52, King of the Britons and others; great comments, great debate. Reminds me of the blogs from years past when comments were more then one line of snark.

lowandslow on September 1, 2009 at 12:29 AM

All of this takes greater manpower – hence, why we are going to commit that.

Black Yoshi on August 31, 2009 at 11:37 PM

My husband has been there, many times. We don’t have any place and any infrastructure in that shiitehole to support additional troops. Period.

Sending more of our people will just get more of our people killed.

Please join the USMC. Give some guy who has already done 4 tours there a break.

funky chicken on September 1, 2009 at 12:40 AM

Please join the USMC. Give some guy who has already done 4 tours there a break.

funky chicken on September 1, 2009 at 12:40 AM

Circa 2012:

Just about three years ago I set out on Obama’s Afghanistan road,
Seekin’ my fame and glory, lookin’ to turn the mullah’s hemorrhoid into a pot of gold.
Well, things got bad, and things got worse, I guess you will know the tune.
Oh ! lord, stuck in Obama’s Afghanistan again.

Flew in on a big plane, I hope I’ll be in one piece flyin out when I go.
I was just passin’ through, must now be yet another 2 tours or more.
Running out of time and patience, looks like they took more of my friends.
Oh ! lord, Im stuck in Obama’s Afghanistan again.

The Hope and Change man in the White House said yet again I was on my way.
Somewhere I lost his connection, he ran out of words to say.
I came into Kabul, a one year stand, looks like the plans fell through again
Oh ! lord, stuck in Obama’s Afghanistan again.

Mmmm…
If I only had a woman, for evry Obama tour Ive done.
And evry time Ive had to fight while the Boy Emperor Obama sat back home power drunk.
You know, Id like to catch the next plane back to where Im from.
Oh ! lord, Im stuck in Obama’s Afghanistan again.
Oh ! lord, Im stuck in Obama’s Afghanistan again.

- CCR Soldier Boy

MB4 on September 1, 2009 at 12:47 AM

King of the Britons on September 1, 2009 at 12:09 AM

I will try to access some of those sources. In the meantime, though, keep in mind that security is the main pitfall to any kind of democracy.

If the Afghanis want a decentralized, local-empowered government, that may be feasible. But it all depends on security.

Education, too, depends on that – for obvious reasons. Thanks for archer52 for reminding me. A working educational infrastructure would also train a more informed generation and partially solve the deficit created by the Soviet war that you have pointed out.

Security is a less demanding problem than government-building and centralization. It depends on basic principles – lots of manpower, co-option of the population the army and other jobs to fill the economic vacuum the Taliban thrives in. Once that is in place to a reasonable standard, the other elements can grow.

I will agree that the values of the current government and constitution are troubling, though, to say the least.

lowandslow on September 1, 2009 at 12:29 AM

Thank you for your contributions as well.

Black Yoshi on September 1, 2009 at 12:48 AM

We don’t have any place and any infrastructure in that shiitehole to support additional troops. Period.

funky chicken on September 1, 2009 at 12:40 AM

We’ll see. I have a friend who’s going in November. I dearly hope you’re wrong.

Black Yoshi on September 1, 2009 at 12:52 AM

Ummm. Not on your life.

Connie on September 1, 2009 at 2:23 AM

For those of you who say to let Afghanistan go (which means go to the Taliban), do you recall that bin Laden and al Qaeda plotted the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan? So if we were to let Afghanistan go and history repeats itself, what will you say?

Phil Byler on September 1, 2009 at 6:56 AM

This is exactly the kind of thinking that lead to Osama sitting up shop in Afghanistan in the first damn place. If the world in general had not just ignored Afghanistan after the Soviets left…the Taliban and AlQaida might not have gotten a foot hold in the first place.

Terrye on September 1, 2009 at 7:13 AM

democracy = statism

true freedom = anarchism / voluntaryism

we should’ve replaced the afghan with nothing BUT we shouldn’t pull out of there. Just allow voluntaryism to happen and don’t allow statism to regrow. Ireland used to be anarchic before Britain invaded it.

Libertarian Joseph on September 1, 2009 at 7:31 AM

replaced their old government with nothing*

now look how high their corruption is.

Libertarian Joseph on September 1, 2009 at 7:32 AM

For those of you who say to let Afghanistan go (which means go to the Taliban), do you recall that bin Laden and al Qaeda plotted the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan? So if we were to let Afghanistan go and history repeats itself, what will you say?

Phil Byler on September 1, 2009 at 6:56 AM

Do you recall that we knew about Bin Laden and his intentions (a hatred toward us created by our own actions) long before 9-11 (Not necessarily his specific intention for 9-11 but his declaring war on the west and the U.S.)? Do you also recall that we had him within our grasp during his time in Sudan but refused to take him?

How much blood and treasure are you willing to spend on Afghanistan to make it a viable self sustaining democracy? How many more bin Ladens are we creating during that involvement?

King of the Britons on September 1, 2009 at 7:52 AM

But before launching New Deal 2.0 in Afghanistan, the Obama administration should ask itself: If U.S. forces are there to prevent reestablishment of al-Qaeda bases — evidently there are none now — must there be nation-building invasions of Somalia, Yemen and other sovereignty vacuums?

corona on September 1, 2009 at 9:45 AM

So if Obama abandons Afghanistan does that mean we can say it was the war HE lost?

katiejane on September 1, 2009 at 10:00 AM

I am tired of progressive thought, thought that has total disregard for the honor, duty, the American Service Member. These peacemik doves are enough to turn any veteran’s stomach. Service Members adhor violence – but does the unnatural act in others stead so that we have peace and to live our lives in safety.

I am thankful for all those that serve in my stead – I am a vet so I am well aware of the sacrifices they endure on my behalf, the BS they put up with, the political gaming that goes on half a world away from peaceniks.

I ask this man to spend some time embedded with American troops and when one of these fine outstanding Americans dies in his presence, I challenge him to write the letter home to his folks.

This man is not even worthy to eat a cold MRE or K-rat with America’s finest.

AASLT on September 1, 2009 at 10:30 AM

Do you recall that we knew about Bin Laden and his intentions (a hatred toward us created by our own actions)

Yeah, damn us American Crusaders

long before 9-11 (Not necessarily his specific intention for 9-11 but his declaring war on the west and the U.S.)? Do you also recall that we had him within our grasp during his time in Sudan but refused to take him?

Are you asserting the statute of limitations on al qaeda has expired?

How much blood and treasure are you willing to spend on Afghanistan to make it a viable self sustaining democracy?

Well, we already paid for the arsenal, its just sitting there… Conventional warfare without bombardment of population centers was always a Plan B.

How many more bin Ladens are we creating during that involvement?

What does that matter, so long as we kill them when we spot them? We’re in a jam because we decided they belong on a committee–as a minority, surely, but they have a “legitimate voice”.

Chris_Balsz on September 1, 2009 at 10:30 AM

George Will is a very rare breed; A intelligent Conservative pundit. He is absolutely right.

Maybe if he said it wearing lederhosen Conservatives would agree with him.

Decider on September 1, 2009 at 10:33 AM

For those of you who say to let Afghanistan go (which means go to the Taliban), do you recall that bin Laden and al Qaeda plotted the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan? So if we were to let Afghanistan go and history repeats itself, what will you say?

Phil Byler on September 1, 2009 at 6:56 AM

That we were deficient in salting the earth in our going.

David Blue on September 1, 2009 at 11:32 AM

We are trying to impose, set-up, create, (use whatever words you like) 21st century institutions in a country that lives in the 7th century. It won’t work. Get out. And if when the training camps come back, fire up the B-52′s, cruise missles and drones.

Afganistan is no longer worth the blood and treasure of our brave troops.

PatriotRider on September 1, 2009 at 11:39 AM

(and his sneering at the British contribution, which involved six dead in one day earlier this summer, as “risible”)

Will did not “sneer” at the British contribution. What Will actually said was:

U.S. forces are being increased by 21,000, to 68,000, bringing the coalition total to 110,000. About 9,000 are from Britain, where support for the war is waning.

That doesn’t sound like sneering to me.

what about the morality of leaving civilians at the mercy of armed fascists?

What about the morality of sending Americans to die on behalf of these civilians, especially given that a significant number of the civilians in question support the goals of the fascists up until the very point at which the fascists employ their methods on them personally?

Anthony Cordesman, who’s always been a straight shooter in his assessments of Iraq, warns today in WaPo that unless we put some more boots on the ground to clear and hold territory, the country’s finished and we’ll face “an enduring regional mess and sanctuary for extremism” going forward. I’m curious to read Will’s theory for why that won’t happen if we don’t take his advice.

Will’s theory, likely, is that Afghanistan will be “an enduring regional mess and sanctuary for extremism” one way or another. Fighting a losing war, and refusing to fight a losing war, have the same outcome, but the costs differ significantly.

The goals of the original invasion were: 1) depose the Taliban, 2) drive al Qaeda out of the country, and 3) hand the Afghans a gift-wrapped liberal democratic regime (a republic, if you can keep it). Mission Accomplished.

Mission creep since then has added 4) turn Afghanistan into a prospering modern state, 5) eliminate the opium trade to reduce availability here (if this is a valid military objective, why not invade Columbia?), and 6) hang around just in case bin Laden should turn back up.

#3 was a bad idea. #4 would take decades, and we’re not employing the right strategies to make it possible. #5 is not an appropriate use for the American military. #6 is wishful thinking.

hicsuget on September 1, 2009 at 12:13 PM

hicsuget on September 1, 2009 at 12:13 PM

You make some valid points, but your broad assumptions undermine your intent.

sending Americans to die

Really?

hillbillyjim on September 1, 2009 at 12:48 PM

hicsuget: “The goals of the original invasion were: 1) depose the Taliban, 2) drive al Qaeda out of the country, and 3) hand the Afghans a gift-wrapped liberal democratic regime (a republic, if you can keep it). Mission Accomplished.”

Close enough.

hicsuget: “Mission creep since then has added 4) turn Afghanistan into a prospering modern state, 5) eliminate the opium trade to reduce availability here (if this is a valid military objective, why not invade Columbia?), and 6) hang around just in case bin Laden should turn back up.”

I think that eliminating the opium trade is a good idea, because it’s a piggy bank available to our worst enemies (which makes it different from Columbia), and destroying enemy assets is an excellent military objective.

hicsuget: “#3 was a bad idea. #4 would take decades, and we’re not employing the right strategies to make it possible. #5 is not an appropriate use for the American military. #6 is wishful thinking.”

Why is the destruction of Afghanistan’s potential as a drug source not an appropriate use of the American military? And who else is supposed to salt the earth?

David Blue on September 1, 2009 at 1:03 PM

For those of you who say to let Afghanistan go (which means go to the Taliban), do you recall that bin Laden and al Qaeda plotted the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan? So if we were to let Afghanistan go and history repeats itself, what will you say?

Phil Byler on September 1, 2009 at 6:56 AM

First of all, the Taliban is not the problem. Islam is the problem. And we’re doing nothing to protect ourselves from Islam by running around in Afghanistan while inviting the Muslim world to our shores via immigration.

The 9/11 hijackers all came here via legally issued visas. We let the enemy right in through our front door. And that is STILL happening today, even as we fool ourselves into thinking we’re accomplishing something in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our borders are still wide open, our immigration policies are still insane, and we STILL do not properly understand our enemy. Bush wanted to “fight them over there so that we don’t have to fight them here,” but we’re no more safe now than we were then.

These Bush-style democracy-building projects are a waste of time, treasure and more importantly, blood. And they aren’t keeping us a lick safer here at home, despite all of the Bush/mainstream conservative claims to the contrary.

Muslims will never be our friends. We cannot reform Islam. Nor can we destroy it. The only thing we in the West can realistically do is separate ourselves from it. The faster we realize this and begin to take steps toward accomplishing it, the better our chances. However, if we don’t wake up, we’ll find ourselves in the same situation as England.

England has troops in Afghanistan even to this day; like us, they’re doing their part in the fight against “terror.” And yet back at home they’re rapidly being taken over by sharia. Why? Mark Steyn will tell you it’s all about birth rates, but the truth is that shifting demographics wouldn’t be an issue if England hadn’t imported millions of Muslims to its shores in the first place! It’s madness. And despite all our posturing and chest beating, we’re headed down the same destructive path.

If you want to do something that would actually go a long way toward preventing history from repeating itself, then support an end to all Muslim immigration to this country. Support measures to deport all non-citizen Muslims from U.S. shores. Support policies that will make this country less and less Islamic. In short, learn from our true mistakes, and the mistakes of Europe, and put an end to the Islamization of America before it has a chance to become more of a problem than it already is.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 1:12 PM

George Will is a very rare breed; A intelligent Conservative pundit. He is absolutely right.

Maybe if he said it wearing lederhosen Conservatives would agree with him.

Decider on September 1, 2009 at 10:33 AM

George Will is NOT a conservative.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 1:14 PM

This is exactly the kind of thinking that lead to Osama sitting up shop in Afghanistan in the first damn place. If the world in general had not just ignored Afghanistan after the Soviets left…the Taliban and AlQaida might not have gotten a foot hold in the first place.

Terrye on September 1, 2009 at 7:13 AM

If we weren’t stupidly handing out visas to Muslims like they were candy, Afghanistan wouldn’t be nearly as big of an issue, at least as far as our own security is concerned. You’re too busy seeing third-rate symptoms when the actual disease remains an untreated, festering wound.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 1:27 PM

But what about his pants?

hillbillyjim on September 1, 2009 at 2:41 PM

That which is not done right generally has to be done again. After WWI we left an economic mess in Germany with unaffordable reparations requirements that help breed the next great war. Gulf War I left the conditions that led to Gulf War II.

We can’t supply a huge army in Afghanistan unless Russia allows much more transport from the north. We can however, slowly build an Afghan army and police force. Once they are reliable we can secure the currently porous border and encourage Pakistan to press the Taliban/Al Queda alliance up against it.

Will it work? Not soon and maybe never; but can anyone gaurantee that a Taliban/Al Queda controlled afghanistan won’t resume their attempts to get nuclear weapons to smuggle into the West? Would fighting our way in a 2nd time be as easy as the last time? The cold war took lots of investment and 40 years; but we succeeded. We can be a patient people if we all understand that we have to be.

KW64 on September 1, 2009 at 2:48 PM

George Will is NOT a conservative.

2Brave2Bscared on September 1, 2009 at 1:14 PM

Conservatism does not seek regime change. Conservatism does not seek preventive strikes. Conservatism views war as the very last resort.

Neo-Conservatism is the opposite of that. Most here are Neo-Conservatives not Conservatives. George Will is a Conservative not a Neo-Conservative.

Decider on September 1, 2009 at 3:14 PM

How do you “break” an 8th century economy? And then “repair” it?

Afganistan has no infrastructure or industry. The only financially stable agricultural product is poppies.

At least the bomb craters catch water and the metal fragments can be sold for scrap.

barnone on September 1, 2009 at 3:27 PM

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