Ten years in: we know who broke this but can anyone fix it?

When I began this blog, I made a habit of  regularly posting the count of years and days we’d been in Afghanistan. At first, I posted every day. Soon it was every week, then every two . . .  the last time was August 31.

But today I must, because today is the first day of the tenth year of the War in Afghanistan.

  • US dead: 1800
  • US wounded: 18,000
  • Direct war fighting dollars spent by US: $461 billion

And?

  • The Taliban are back.
  • Afghanistan remains splintered.
  • President Karzai is openly corrupt, and
  • he is derisively called the “Mayor of Kabul” and people are tyring to kill him

This war should have been over in a year or two.  It would have been had someone not had a yen for Iraq. Now we have no idea what we’re doing there and we can’t identify a way out. And when we do get out? Tragically, Afghanistan will revert back to what it’s been for a thousand years, confirming yet again that it is “the graveyard of Empires”.

Has a president ever left a bigger mess behind than George Bush did?

20 responses to “Ten years in: we know who broke this but can anyone fix it?

  1. And did I hear Secretary Paneta say that we won’t be leaving? Ouch and sad.

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  2. Of course we’re not leaving afrankangle. The U.S. military has to keep it’s presence in the oil rich Middle East.
    Oh, and Moe … Yeah Bush was a disaster, but he doesn’t hold a candle to the freak that’s in there now.

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    • Oh, and not to rain on any one’s weekend, but you should get used to that fact that we aren’t leaving Afghanistan:

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      • Steve – I want us to get out of Afghanistan, but I know full well we won’t. Right now we’re supposed to be out in 2013. I’ll beleive htat when I see it.

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    • Steve, We don’t need Afghanistan for a ‘presence’. We’ve built a city in a city in Baghdad for ourselves and we have dozens, maybe a hundred other large installations in the county and we’ll never give htose up. Plus we’ll always have Bagram Air base in Afghanistan. We won’t give that up either. We’re in all the Emirates and Kuwait but left Saudi Arabia in ’03.

      We don’t need to be in Afghanistan.

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      • Moe, regardless of what we, as ordinary citizens think, the United States “needs” (in the minds of very twisted, yet very powerful people) a military presence in the Middle East. I highly recommend you and your visitors reading Crossing The Rubicon by Michael C. Ruppert. You will have an “epiphany” as to why our military is there and why they are not leaving … ever.

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        • I know you remember Vietnam. All the ‘reasons’ that the very serious people shared were not even close to the damage we now know we did to ourselves. Vietnam broke the trust between the people and its government. In fact, it began the breakdown between the people and institutions of all sorts. It also destroyed our confidence in ourselves.

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        • And Steve, I harbor no illusions about how oil drives our Middle East policy and it is indeed twisted. What I’m saying is we don’t need Afghanistan to “protect our interests”. In fact, it’s hurting our interests, if we count the good will of people in the region as being relevant to our future there.

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          • Sigh … Moe, it is indeed very difficult for normal, regular people such as we to grasp the mind set of those in power. Ordinary people are not globalists, power driven, power and control obsessed. But make no mistake about it, those people exist and exist in the highest echelons of power.
            All the bickering we do as conservatives and liberals, republican and democrat is absolutely ridiculous and futile when it’s all said and done. When the sh#t hits the fan, (forgive me) it impacts all of us, and we’re all, right and left in the exact same sinking ship.

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          • That’s why I’ve said that I think the inspiration for both the Tea Party AND the Wall St protests spring from the same belief that something is just not right. They identify entirely different issues but they arose from the same instinct.

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    • kansas, I actually remember that post! And it does feel just like Vietnam – we surely lost our way there after a few years. And as I said to Steve upstream, Vietnam hurt this country more than it hurt them.

      Such an awful time – and the poster is from ’69 – it was four, five(?) more years before we were out of there (tails between legs).

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  3. Moe,

    No offense, but success or failure in Afghanistan has nothing to do with Iraq. It has to do with our strategy there. Unfortunately, both Presidents have focused on nation building rather than counterterrorism. From that perspective, Afghanistan will always be a failure. The country is tribal because terrain dictates how societies get along. If the US dropped a neutron bomb on Afghanistan, killed everyone, and repopulated the country with Americans, even the Americans would eventually divide into warring factions within a generation.

    Within the current administration, there seem to be two competing factions – those who believe that Afghanistan should be a nation-building exercise and those who believe the primary mission is to kill Al Qaeda. Leon Pannetta, who ramped drone strikes dramatically is in the latter group. I would argue that the second strategy won decisively once the US killed bin Laden. We won.

    However, the former group persists in this Sisyphian exercise of creating a democracy in Afghanistan. It’s not working, and it will never work. The strategy should therefore shift from a counterinsurgency to counterterrorism operation with a light special forces footprint, rather than 100,000 conventional forces. It is simply no longer in our strategic interests to have a large military footprint there.

    That said, whether we succeed or fail in Afghanistan, has nothing to do with Iraq. Difficulties in Afghanistan on based more on cultural and geographical factors rather than resource constraints.

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    • Sean, acknowledging your experience in matters military, I will still disagree strongly: Iraq had everything to do with Afghanistan. We turned our attention elsewhere, put all our top talent and money elsewhere. And worse, we forgot entirely what the point was. We pushed the Taliban out for a while, but they’re back. If we won against Al Qaeda, it sure didn’t happen in Afghanistan. Yeah, we’ve hurt them, but they are an entirely different organization today. They’re even cooperating with Shia which is remarkable and perhaps more dangerous.

      I think we agree that our presence in Afghanistan can have no effect on our current fight against terrorists. That’s not even where we’re fighting them anymore. And further, Afghanistan is not oil rich. Iran is.

      Your point about geography is fascinating. Of course it would have been wise of us to recognize that.

      I think Obama made a grave error when he tried to copy the ‘surge’ by sending so many troops into Afghanistan. Another example of not ‘getting’ who these people are.

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  4. Gheez these guys stole my line….

    “We ain’t FULLY leaving there for a Long…Long…Long Time’

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  5. Ms. Holland,
    ” That’s why I’ve said that I think the inspiration for both the Tea Party AND the Wall St protests spring from the same belief that something is just not right. ”

    With all due respects, the Occupy Wall Streeters are not fit to carry the tea bags of the Tea Partyers .

    Tea Partyers do not block traffic and pick fights with cops . Tea Partyers shower .

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  6. The worst records of corruptions and scandals (in order, worst first) are during the administrations of: George W. Bush; Regan; Nixon; Clinton; then Gerald Ford.

    The best are (in order, cleanest first): Harry S. Truman; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Kennedy; Johnson; Carter; then George H. W. Bush.

    http://tariganter.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/us-federal-government-major-corruption-scandals-since-1945/

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  7. @ Cry and Howl, Easy on me, the records of corruption need time to come up to light, most of them will be delayed due to unlawful influence from officials in power.
    The other point is that the number of recorded cases of corruption must be weighed by the time the administration spent in power.
    Until now Obama is comparable to Carter but moving down fast.
    If you have any point make it.

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