America Will Lose Afghanistan

February 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.


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  1. Then what is the point of Obama sending more troops to Afghanistan?

  2. to mollify the military brass and Americans who won’t let him do the right thing. We shall continue our warmongering, but it will be to little effect in that region. The number one reason why is that the people of that region are truly unimpressed with our military might, and it no longer is an effective tool for us to use to attempt to change the behaviors of the peoples of that region.

  3. So Obama is strong enought to take on dictators, but he can’t stand up to his own people? Weakness. And I don’t see how it is any bit moral to send our soldiers to their deaths simply to appease our “military brass.”

  4. Indeed, it is very easy to stand up to dictators. It is much harder to change your own people’s views. It isn’t a matter of weakness, at least not in the individual. The weakness is in the position of President. Because he can be easily removed from power, the position is inherently weak.

    And you are very right. It is not moral to send soldiers to their deaths simply to appease the military brass, but that’s what militaries do ALL THE TIME. Soldiers are trained to go to their deaths at the command of the military brass. If the military brass thinks soldiers should be sent to their deaths, so it is. Aren’t you a military guy? Don’t you know this kind of stuff?

    I want to see our soldiers out of Iraq TOMORROW! But the military brass will do all in their power to ensure that doesn’t happen. They want us to be in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Why? Because their pals (like Barry McAffrey) profit from the death of Iraqis. Why would they want that stopped?

  5. Already having to make excuses for him…

    Yeah I am pretty familiar with the chain of command, and don’t you know who is at the top of the chain of command? Let me help you out it is someone called the commander in chief. That individual is given power over the entire armed forces of this country. If he doesn’t want soldiers sent to their deaths, they obey. Aren’t you a constitutional guy, don’t you understand how this government works???

    The military brass has no power to remove the President, only the people can remove him, and the people elected him because he wants to leave Iraq. The setup is intrinsically strong to prevent a small minority (military brass) from running the country. The presidential position is strong. Obama is weak.

  6. Joe,

    You seem familiar with the basic military structure, but seem to fail to understand the true dynamics. Indeed, the president is commander in chief, but if he doesn’t have the military brass behind his actions they are quite capable of scuttling and undermining him, both politically, and sabotaging the preferred mission of the president. These positions are not just pieces on a chess board. Each individual within those positions (general, colonel) add their own personal influence to the position.

    I fear General Petraeus will do just that, frankly. He will try to force Obama into a position where the only thing Obama can do is what the general wants. I hope Obama fires Petraeus if that situation ever came up, but see, here we get to the political problem. General Petraeus is very popular. If Obama fires him, it becomes a serious political problem.

    Like I said, you seem to have an elementary understanding of military structure and influence, but seem to lack an understanding of the more nuanced bigger picture.

    Obama is not weak. The position of President is.

  7. They say ” If you kill your enemy after 100 years; it is too early to do so”. Every one knows why did US attack Afghanistan. They created Taliban and financed them against USSR. Does it make a sense a bear will keep calm after you stab him?. Iran is against US. Russia is there in Afghanistan, Pakistan is there, China is there.
    The way to know your power is not to hit your opponent but to be hit by your opponent and you see yourself standing on your legs.
    There is no need for big expertise and discussion as the simple solution is to quit from that Hell without wasting time and people on both sides as the result is for SURE failure.

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