Why Surge When the War is Already Lost?
Several things popped up in my news reading this week that I hope – but sadly doubt – our new administration will read before continuing the buildup of US forces in Afghanistan.
First, take a look at Howie’s recent post over at Down with Tyranny. He reminds us that “hubris is what ends big strong empires… and this one isn’t immune, not by a long shot.” And then provides a much needed must-read primer on the recent history of US relations with Afghanistan.
Then take a look at how we are attempting to “win” in Afghanistan in Jerome Starkey’s report on why Afghan tribal leaders are not buying in to attempts to have an “afghan awakening:” (h/t Alex Thurston)
They came in the night and shot Saeed Alam in his bed. His three-year-old son was crying at his feet and his mother had leapt on top of him to try to block the bullets. Both of them were hurled out of the way and an American soldier opened fire…
Saeed Alam was shot four times in the chest in the raid last Saturday. His son landed in a fire pit, used for cooking. His mother died of shock the next day. The American soldiers left, taking 10 other Afghans with them. "We are not Taliban. We do not support al-Qa’ida but if these searches continue we will definitely join the anti-government elements," said Mr Janan, a senior member of the Gardeserai shura, or council…
A delegation of elders travelled to the provincial capital, Gardez, on Tuesday to protest about the raids. "We have 9,000 people in our tribe and we will take up arms against them," Mr Janan warned…
"Raiding people’s houses and snatching people away creates a very negative impression in the communities," said a senior Western policy analyst, working in the region…
"What laws allow them to kill him without an investigation?" Mr Janan said. "There are no courts, there is no justice. We are Muslims. Maybe they are from another religion but there are international laws and customs. Who will tell me that killing this person was legal?"
Is it any wonder that, as Anand Gopal writes in his recent discussion of “Who are the Taliban?:”
In a world of endless war, with a predatory government, roving bandits, and Hellfire missiles, support goes to those who can bring security.
And as Doug Saunders notes, the original mission (and legal authorization of the invasion of Afghanistan) was to root out Al Qaeda:
To the extent that al-Qaeda and its supporters remain active in Afghanistan, how much is that because of and not in spite of our military presence there?
Richard Barrett, the man who runs the UN agency that monitors al-Qaeda’s activities, warned recently that the presence of large numbers of foreign troops is mainly serving to bolster the terrorist group and provide it with a convenient, two-dimensional un-Islamic enemy to make its rhetoric sound plausible and build up its recruiting.
“You could say that the threat of foreign occupation is giving them oxygen in the region with tribal leaders, leaving aside local differences to unite against foreign forces,” Mr. Barrett said.
If so, we have a stark conclusion: Al-Qaeda is gone, and not likely to return. To the extent that it is still around, it’s because we’re attracting it.
If both those statements are true, then no matter how ugly it looks, the war’s over.