Stavridis: "Better than even" odds of another attack on Kabul airport

Stavridis: "Better than even" odds of another attack on Kabul airport

This is about the only sensible point made by retired Admiral James Stavridis in this short clip from NBC’s Today. It’s not exactly going out on a limb to predict another terrorist attack on the airport in Kabul after yesterday’s bombing succeeded in disrupting operations and access to the US evacuation of the city.

Comparing the Taliban to Joseph Stalin as a partner in global security? That actually works, but perhaps not in quite the way Stavridis thinks:

“Let’s focus on getting out of KIA airport,” Stavridis says. “Job Next is finding ISIS.” That’s much easier said than done, as Stavridis has to know, without any kind of on-the-ground partnership in a landscape like Afghanistan. Even with an Afghan army of about 180,000 that was fully supported logistically by the US, we had trouble stamping out ISIS’ franchise in Afghanistan.

Now that we have no boots on the ground, either ours or our proxies’, how does that work? Are we going to ask Afghans to risk their lives and families by ratting out the terrorists? Yeah, good luck with that after the debacle of the last two weeks. Even if we rolled back into Kabul with 75,000 troops, Afghans wouldn’t trust us to protect them for another lifetime.

As for the Stalin analogy, that’s off by just a wee bit. In the first place, Stalin was desperate for help in 1941, but he was the one who enabled the Nazis with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. Stalin also benefited from that partnership at first by gobbling up half of Poland. And how our own partnership with Stalin work out in the end? We ceded eastern Europe to the Soviets for 40 years, enslaving the people we wanted to liberate. The US ended up fighting proxy wars against communists for most of that time in places like Korea and Vietnam, as well as in lesser-remarked regions like Central and South America.

Furthermore, the Taliban doesn’t want to “stamp out the Nazis.” They are the Nazis in this analogy — totalitarian and nihilistic monsters. All we’d be doing is stamping out their competition among monsters by “partnering” with them, along with being complicit in the Taliban’s enslavement of the Afghan people. And we wouldn’t get anything in return, except empty promises about opposing terrorism while they sheltered fellow radical-Islamist travelers like al-Qaeda, just as they did prior to 9/11. Does Stavridis really think the Taliban will help spot terror camps for US strikes against fellow radical Islamists? Come on, man.

This is nothing more than an attempt to stick lipstick on the corpse of a pig. The manner in which we withdrew from Afghanistan has turned into a catastrophe for American national security and counterterrorism. There is no fixing it either, not even with a new invasion and full occupation. We have lost all sides in Afghanistan thanks to our cowardly bug-out. The best we can hope is to contain the threats that will metastasize in Afghanistan, and even that is perhaps a bit too Pollyanna-ish a hope.

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