Leaving Afghanistan

November 12, 2008


As the situation worsens in Afghanistan, some are voicing concerns whether the US should be there in the first place.
Seven years along and nothing has really changed.
Foreign Policy In Focus two years ago:

  • Yet the Bush administration continues to be in denial about the worsening situation in Afghanistan. President Bush recently declared that Afghanistan was doing so well that it was “inspiring others … to demand their freedom.”
    And Vice President Cheney has referred to the rapidly deteriorating Afghan republic as a “rising nation.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld earlier described the new Afghanistan as “a breathtaking accomplishment” and “a successful model.”

Of course, we all know now — and some knew then — that all of the above was a crock of shit.
But what to do about it now?

(Illustration found here).

President-Elect Barack Obama might need to shift his game plan.

In USA Today this morning:

  • During his presidential campaign, Obama made ambitious claims about this region, vowing to capture Osama bin Laden.
    Should the arch-terrorist be killed or captured, it will result from an intelligence break, not a campaign promise.
    Obama also has vowed to do a better job at winning in Afghanistan than President Bush has.
    But Afghanistan presents even deeper problems than did Iraq: It will take a generational commitment to ameliorate them, and they’ll never be fully solved.
    You don’t win in Afghanistan — you just make sure your enemies don’t win, either.
    Although engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan remains essential, the key is to have realistic expectations of what can be achieved.

History has proved that to be right.
Just ask the Russians.

The big issue here is Obama’s view of the Afghan situation, which under Decider George’s watch has degenerated into just bombing the shit out of weddings there.
Obama has called for an Afghan surge as the reported draw-down of US troops in Iraq is completed, but this might not work.
The best bet is to get the shit out of Afghanistan.

Sameer Dossani of Foreign Policy in Focus makes the point of getting out, then rethinking the whole situation:

  • While Obama’s election may indicate a shift in U.S. foreign policy (and hopefully a rejection of the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war), Obama has prescribed more military operations in Afghanistan.
    For more than a year, Obama has argued for redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.
    He has called Afghanistan the “central front in the War on Terror” and has even threatened to bomb Pakistan should there be evidence that Afghan warlords are hiding there and the Pakistani government isn’t “doing enough” about it.
    (On this last point, Bush has already bombed Pakistan several times over the last few months, prompting the Pakistani government to publicly rebuke the U.S. for violating its sovereignty.)
    While Obama’s rhetoric in arguing for increased involvement in Afghanistan makes some sense — he claims that Bush has been so involved with Iraq that the al-Qaeda leaders who allegedly orchestrated the September 11 attacks are still at large — his proposed methodology doesn’t.

A withdrawal is the solution:

  • Withdrawing troops. International law is clear on this subject.
    No country may occupy another indefinitely and certainly not without the will of the people being occupied.
    If an Obama administration truly thinks that withdrawing U.S. and NATO troops would be a bad thing for Afghans, hold a referendum to see who would like the troops to remain.
    Working with the various Afghan factions to begin negotiations.
    Wars are rarely stopped on the battlefield, and those that are have a tendency to break out again after a few years. The recent history of Afghanistan illustrates this point.

    Another is major investment in social infrastructure and particularly health and education measures which will ultimately help Afghanistan recover from being bombed “into the stone age.”

Get out to save the country!

Dossani’s piece can also be found at AlterNet.

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