Declare Victory in Afghanistan and Get the Hell Out Now!

Mish

Here's a history lesson, several actually, for warmongering morons who want to stay in Afghanistan.

Warmongering Morons

Please consider Ha Ha Ha to the Pacifists by warmonger Christopher Hitchens, written November 13, 2001.

I began to notice a few weeks ago that my enemies in the "peace" movement had decided to borrow from this tattered style book. The mantra, especially in the letters to this newspaper, was: "Afghanistan, where the world's richest country rains bombs on the world's poorest country."

Poor fools. They should never have tried to beat me at this game. What about, "Afghanistan, where the world's most open society confronts the world's most closed one"? "Where American women pilots kill the men who enslave women." "Where the world's most indiscriminate bombers are bombed by the world's most accurate ones." "Where the largest number of poor people applaud the bombing of their own regime." I could go on. (I think number four may need a little work.) But there are some suggested contrasts for the "doves" to paste into their scrapbook.

Well, ha ha ha, and yah, boo. It was obvious from the very start that the United States had no alternative but to do what it has done. It was also obvious that defeat was impossible. The Taliban will soon be history. Al-Qaida will take longer. There will be other mutants to fight. 

Afghanistan Buries Another Empire

I picked up that post by Hitchens from The American Conservative article Afghanistan Buries Another Empire by Matt Purple written a few days ago.

It’s easy to forget, but the United States by the end of 2001 thought it had won in Afghanistan. The CIA had undertaken an unofficial policy of war against Osama bin Laden back in 1998, and after 9/11, their agents were able to draw upon that planning to move quickly against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The bombing began in October; Northern Alliance fighters were inside Kabul by mid-November. Osama bin Laden fled, possibly to Tora Bora and eventually to Pakistan. A new age was declared in Central Asia.

Today, we might ask how much longer history is supposed to take. Make a running chronological leap over the invasion of Afghanistan, past Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, above Arab Spring revolutions come and gone, landing and skidding into the present day, and you find the Taliban not only not defeated but in their strongest position in 20 years. The group now claims to control 70 percent of Afghanistan’s territory; a more cautious estimate by an Afghan news service puts it at 52 percent. Taliban fighters have seized highways and supply lines into Kabul. They’ve been inching towards the vital city of Kandahar.

The prospect of a resurgent Taliban has prompted some to argue that America should stop withdrawing troops. Under the peace deal ratified at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, the remaining 2,500 U.S. forces in Afghanistan are supposed to be out by May 1, though this was also contingent on the Taliban halting their offensive, which hasn’t happened. Still, it’s not like anything else we’ve tried has worked either, starting with Barack Obama’s troop surge in 2009. No amount of boots or dollars or willpower has achieved more than a lull in the violence. Yet we refuse to acknowledge as much.

Why Are We Still There?

Purple gives three reasons, the first being "honor". 

But there is no honor in being stupid. That's a lesson we failed to learn from Vietnam.

His second reason is "autopilot".  

I recall that message from 7th grade. One of my teachers explained "I do not think we should have gone to Vietnam but we can't leave now." 

We Can't Leave Now

That thought was pervasive in 1967. 

Nixon campaigned on "Peace with Honor". How many remember that?

I assure you that we left with "no honor". And after we left, North Vietnam overran Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam. 

The Vietnam War ended April 30, 1975.

Let's not sugarcoat this. The US lost the Vietnam War. 

 Ideology

Purple says "The third reason is the least common and also the most delusional: ideology. There remains a small clutch of thinkers who still cling to the old 2001 dream, who really do think that it is America’s vocation to spread liberal democracy around the world."

Not a Small Clutch of Thinkers

It's not a "small clutch of thinkers" it's a vast clutch of warmongers. 

They are everywhere you look Left and Right: Hillary, John McCain, Trump, Obama, Bush.

McCain sang "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran" to the tune of the song Barbara Ann, first performed by the Regents then the Beach Boys.

New York Times

The New York Times, an otherwise bastion of extreme liberalism published a post John Bolton To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran

Q: Why might Iran want a nuclear bomb?
A: To protect itself from warmongering fools in the US on both sides of the political aisle.

Obama's One Achievement Undone By Trump

Obama's drone policy was an absolute nightmare. His only significant achievement in eight years was a nuclear treaty with Iran. 

Our own military said Iran was honoring the terms of the agreement.

Trump insisted he could get a better deal. Bolton, McCain, Trump all thought the way to a better deal with Iran was to threaten to bomb them, a tactic 100% guaranteed to make Iran yearn for its own bomb. 

Industrial Military Complex

Purple did not discuss reason #4, the Industrial Military Complex. The weapons industry is forever seeking more weapons and more wars.

It funnels money to candidates who are "strong on defense". But "defense" has nothing to do with it. 

The industry now demands perpetual war. Not even 20 years in Afghanistan is enough. The complex wants a new front, in Iran. 

Illegal and Immoral War in Iraq

Bush launched an illegal and immoral war on Iraq. It was founded on a lie, just as the Vietnam Was was founded on a lie. 

Hillary and McCain were among the big war supporters. They were mostly two peas in a pod. Take away abortion and a policy here or there for political expediency as opposed to genuine beliefs and they belonged on the same ticket.  

Declare Victory and Get Out

On  December 19, 2012, Foreign Policy discussed “Declare Victory and Get Out

In 1966, in the middle of the Vietnam War, the late Senator George Aiken of Vermont famously recommended that the United States simply "declare victory and get out." With the benefit of hindsight, that seems like pretty good advice. Today, it is more or less what the Obama administration is trying to do in Afghanistan.

The president has already made it clear that he intends to withdraw virtually all U.S. troops by the end of 2014. But because Americans don’t like to admit defeat and no administration likes to acknowledge mistakes, they have to pretend that their Afghan policy has been a great success. In particular, the administration would like us (and the world) to believe that their decision to escalate the war in 2009 was a game-changer that broke the back of the Taliban and enabled us to build an independent Afghan security force that will carry on the fight after we’ve left. As we head for the exits, therefore, get ready for a lot of upbeat stories and well-orchestrated spin.

I actually thought Trump would get out of Afghanistan. He didn't. Nor did he get out of Syria.

Sorry, cutting troops doesn't count. Even advisors are a no-no. Vietnam started with advisors.

Threatening to bomb Iran is not a negation tactic, it's major idiocy. So are  advisors and so is arming Saudi Arabia.

The longer we stay, the more American troops will die. More deaths do not honor the dead. 

Given that it is so difficult to declare the war won, the sane thing is to not enter these messes in the first place. Unfortunately, we are still there, 20 years and counting.

The sane course now is the course Bush should have taken, Obama should have taken, Trump should have taken, and Biden should take: "Declare Victory and Get the Hell Out".

Did Trump "Try" to Leave?

Mish

Comments (56)
No. 1-27
Realtallk
Realtallk

My little sister served in Afghanistan with the Airforce, she's never been the same since. It's sad. Ever since I ca. Remember, the US has been the bully of the earth.

One-armed Economist
One-armed Economist

Agreed. Just like Russia Afghanistan has been nothing but a graveyard. and just like Iraq who plays us well and unceasingly against Russia and China, Afghanistan only wants to use us. F' them. Stop perpetual war. Save lives, money, and in the long run when we inevitably cut-n-run save face. There is never "a better time" - only more sunk costs.

TexasTim65
TexasTim65

What's really sad is how anyone under the age of about 21 or so has never known any America except the one that's been at war in the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria) and with increasing intrusive surveillance at home that started after 9/11.

I'm old enough to remember my first flights in the early 70's when you just drove up to the airport and walked on the plane like you would a bus/train/subway etc.

KyleW
KyleW

It seems obvious to me too Mish, but like you said they're on autopilot. These people are too dumb to ever learn so we just have to watch them repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Eddie_T
Eddie_T

I just knew something like this was going to happen the very day the twin towers fell.

I knew that America would break the all-time record for overreacting to an act fo terrorism and waste countless lives and dollars on pursuing some kind of ridiculous tit-for-tat against Osama Bin Laden..which is of course, exactly what he was hoping for.

Iraq was just a total scam brought to us by Cheney, who had been looking for an excuse to invade since Bush Sr’s war ended without us occupying the country.

My only little addition to what Mish has to say here is that we should never forget that Iraq and Iran are the last two countries in the word with huge undeleted oil fields that produce high quality crude. That is part of the calculus here. Unspoken, but important.

Afghanistan is known as the “Graveyard of Empires. It’s been a hard place to govern since Ghenghis Khan’s son got killed by the locals....and Britain and Russia both found it necessary to withdraw after long wars of occupation that led to nothing but slow attrition.

War is the easiest sell in the word to Americans, because our civilian population has been so insulated from the horrors of war for so long.....it’s just something that we send our kids off for like summer camp, except they come home maimed and permanently shell-shocked with PTSD.

I don’t look for it to get fixed. We will leave the Middle East when we’re forced to because we’re fighting a new war with China maybe, and we need the resources elsewhere.

shamrock
shamrock

Supposedly some Iranian politician once said he wants to wipe Israel off the map. Meanwhile, American politicians campaigned on carpet bombing the middle east, making the sand glow, and so forth.

Doug78
Doug78

Much of my extended family are lifers and have been in and out of Iraq, Afghanistan and strange places in Africa and Asia so many times I have lost count. If you ask them why they do it they say someone has to and that is true. Afghanistan and Iraq are not the bleeding wounds they once were. Forces are small in both. Biden or more accurately his "advisors" look to be wanting to get some military glory in the ME to blazon their resumés and that worries me.

Doug78
Doug78

I see the Financial Times came up with an article that says the Texas power companies hedge strategies did blow up and that BoA, Goldman and a few others made a few billion out of it. I thought that's what happened.

WarpartySerf
WarpartySerf

What's the hurry to leave ? We've only been there as long as The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WW1 and WW2 combined. Soldiers being sent there were't even born when we started the war. Now that's "winning" !

Sechel
Sechel

Since U.S. forces first arrived in October 2001, “our country has not been attacked from Afghanistan.” There are still more than 20 designated terrorist organizations that operate in Afghanistan, including the Islamic State-Khorasan, which took root in Afghanistan around 2015.

Unilateral pullout risks all that and more

ohno
ohno

Another day on crazy rock.

Peter Bartholomew
Peter Bartholomew

Ermmm...Trump was trying to get us out of Afghanistan. Why do you think the NeoCons led by the McCain's and Cheney's of the world despised Trump so much. They wanted his head on a pike. Your hatred for Trump is existentially absurd. You lose all perspective.

Tengen
Tengen

Biden won't leave willingly, he'll the the fourth straight POTUS to extend the Forever Wars.

When is the last time the US abandoned one of its major wars? Vietnam in 1975? I wouldn't count Grenada and the first Iraq war was merely a bridge to the second one.

Sechel
Sechel

Iran does border Afghanistan. Being there increases leverage and gives us eyes and ears and some boots on the ground. Bugging out removes leverage. Negotiating without leverage is begging

Greggg
Greggg

Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor under Jimmy Carter laid out the threats to the American Empire years ago.
"Russia and China, seek influence in Afghanistan as a means of securing the resources of Central Asia in particular, petroleum and pipelines. If the U.S. wins, Russia and China remain lesser powers. If Russia or China wins, the U.S. confronts a formidable rival with potential to disrupt the projection of American power".
If you translate "American power" for what it really means, western multinational corporations, you get a better view of what leaving Afghanistan really means. China has already cut deals with Iran, Iraq, Israel and is now looking at Saudi Arabia now that Biden is cutting ties with them. In the meantime, the American powers, the western multinational corporations, are slowly cutting loose from the US. They are following economic opportunity now the the US is closer to being economically strapped. In the end, we will be dumped for greener pastures. https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/us-geopolitics-afghanistan-and-the-containment-of-china

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

I dont really see it as losing or winning. That is a simpleton's view of geopolitics . Read books or articles about the new great game to understand. Russia and China have made inroads into their neighboring countries and around the world. Anyone who thinks we can simply get out of anywhere so easily without longer term consequences is thinking too short term.

2 Replies

Call_me_Al
Call_me_Al

So you're advocating a Vietnam-era containment policy? Domino theory? China and Russia have no relevance concerning a military exploit that was officially undertaken as a response to a singular event and has gone on to persist for a generation.

Tens of thousands of military personnel have been killed, maimed, and/or psychologically scarred. Millions of Afghani civilians have too. To what end? When does your 'complex' view of geopolitics see an end to this facet of American diplomacy? Also, can you list some beneficial or positive outcomes thusfar, because it is quite difficult to see what would be jeopardized by pulling out.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

I'm not advocating active war. But no way should the US vacate from anywhere.

CzarChasm Reigns
CzarChasm Reigns

Fairly certain we have a "Mission Accomplished" banner laying around somewhere....

numike
numike

“God created war so that Americans would learn geography.” ― Mark Twain

Mr. Purple
Mr. Purple

Never fight a land war in Asia and never gamble against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

truthseeker
truthseeker

Off Topic: Mish I’m sure you are aware of “Bitcoin storm brewing over Trump’s anti-money laundering push”which will force Biden to decide if he wants financial services firms to require identities of cryptocurrency holders. Certainly he should because of all the huge amounts of dark money for drugs, human trafficking, money laundering and other illegal activities being parked in these cryptic currencies.

Doug78
Doug78

Mish, you are looking at it as either or when there is a third option and one that is being used in more places than one can imagine. Private military contractor companies are very ubiquitous in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and throughout Africa not to mention many other places. They are used by our government to have a presence while keeping down the number of actual US soldiers. In Afghanistan they are used extensively. The rub is that these companies to operate need a certain amount of support from US assets close by to do their job. The small number of troops there provide support for the them. Go to zero US troops and that support goes too. These companies are a Libertarian solution to the problem of using US Military to make war and influence countries using a minimum of resources and generating a minimum of domestic political pushback. A lot depends on what is your objective. If it is to control a resource to have it or to deny it to an adversary then you can do a cost-benefit analysis. If your goal is of a moral then you are going to have problems. If it existential in nature then you have no choice.

Tex Forister
Tex Forister

Viet Nam 1968, 101st Air Borne Division.
All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed (I. F. "Izzy" Stone, 1907-1989), and, The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help (Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004).

rete
rete

"Declare Victory...and get the hell out now"

It doesn't work like that. If you declare victory and leave you lose. And as we're all repeatedly told, the US is no loser.

"No war is over until the enemy says it's over". Jim Mattis.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Libertarians do not endorse war except in defense when directly attacked.

There is NO Libertarian position that would endorse "private" warmongering in Afghanistan or anywhere else.

Harley44
Harley44

There is a very good history book, "The Great Game," which is about the attempts of the British Empire and Russia to "pacify" Afghanistan in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. After 200 years they both finally realized that it was impossible. I begin to think it will take the American Empire just as long to figure this out.


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