America Will Lose AfghanistanFebruary 19, 2009 at 12:04 am | Posted in American politics | 7 Comments
Chalk up another negative for George W. Bush. Because of his actions, because of his misdirections, because of his distractions, the United States of America will lose Afghanistan when this was the one we should have one, and easily. Current “top” American military leaders are calling it a stalemate, and given how averse American military brass are to really telling citizens how bad things are, if they call it a stalemate, you can bet it is far far worse.
See, here’s the problem we face.
1. We’re still in Iraq.
We did not need to go there in the first place. We’re wasting billions upon billions of dollars in a country we never should have invaded. Obama wants to get us out of Iraq within sixteen months (I still think that is too long), but the military brass think we should stay there for another seven to ten years! What is the cost of such an action both financially and military assets? Financially the war in Iraq is costing us $4-10 billion a month (don’t know the exact figure—George W. Bush wasn’t exactly very transparent with his government). In any case, that’s between $50-130 billion a year. Multiply that by seven to ten years and you get a range from $350 billion to $1.3 trillion. That’s in addition to the $600 billion we’ve already spent so far on Iraq. All together, Iraq could cost us anywhere from $1 trillion to $2 trillion dollars. That’s more than Obama’s economic stimulus. Just think of that. What exactly are we doing in Iraq? Keeping us safe from, well, whom exactly? Our real enemy is hanging out in Pakistan right now. The rate of return of our investment in Iraq sure doesn’t look very good right now.
“Keeping us safe” should not have to cost this much. It will eventually bankrupt us, just as Osama Bin Laden promised. We are also incurring a very steep cost with our soldiers. Not just in deaths but in injuries and psychological damage. These have very real and very negative effects on our nation in the long run. The more we keep them in a battle zone, the more we weaken them, and the less safe we make ourselves, particularly against bigger threats.
2. Iraq is not going to be a pro-western democracy
Not because Iraqis can’t handle a democracy, but because the conditions are not right. The mistrust between different factions is high enough so that the different factions feel it is better to wage war against other factions than trust that a political solution will solve the problem. There is a reason why Baghdad is a city of massive walls. See, in flourishing democracies, rival factions have enough trust in each other that if one faction gets power, the other factions have enough sense of trust that the ruling faction won’t send their country to hell. (For my own self, right now I don’t believe Republicans should rule, because they are so ideologically driven that they will wreck this country; however, I trust that the system has enough checks in place that even with Republicans in power, this country won’t be too badly damaged). This kind of check and balance is not found in Iraq. Why should a Sunni Arab trust a Shi’ite with ties to Iran to run the government of Iraq properly? I wouldn’t. I would feel very threatened. I would keep a gun close by.
Most of the political violence, the civil war, of Iraq has already occurred. Few neighborhoods in Baghdad or really anywhere, are tribally mixed. There has been enough sharing of power between Sunnis and Shi’ites that has kept continual political violence at bay, at least reduced it somewhat. But this is still highly unstable, and will not endure for long. Nothing the Americans will do can help this. But, we’re stubborn prideful people. We’ll stick at it, waste our money and our soldiers because of our highly nationalistic pride.
3. Afghanistan is hell.
Obama is right to be highly critical of Karzai. He is corrupt. He rules barely out of Kabul. He has little to no influence outside of Kabul. The United States military has little to no influence in, well, anywhere in Afghanistan. They continue killing civilians! They continue failing to understand the most important principle of a successful counterinsurgency. Protect the civilian ABOVE the priority of protecting your own soldier. If a car is coming toward your outpost, and you don’t know if it is a civilian or a terrorist, what do you do in a successful counterinsurgency? Do you shoot the vehicle and ask questions later? NO! You have to be willing to sacrifice your soldier to protect the possible civilian in that vehicle.
The reason counterinsurgencies are not successful for the most part, is because the group that attempts to counter an insurgency is unwilling to sacrifice his own to succeed. See, the insurgency group is definitely willing to sacrifice his own so that he succeeds. The more he sacrifices of his own, the greater the chance his insurgency will be successful. The less the counterinsurgency group is willing to sacrifice his own, the greater the chance for failure.
Afghanistan is a losing cause, with the number one reason being this. We are more willing to sacrifice the civilians of Afghanistan than we are the soldier of America.
When we are willing to show Afghans and Pushtuns of Pakistan that we care more about them, when we show them that we value their lives more than we value our own, we will finally start to see the fruits of success.