Politics Magazine

The Unending War In Afghanistan Is In Its 18th Year

Posted on the 20 November 2018 by Jobsanger
The Unending War In Afghanistan Is In Its 18th Year (Photo of Afghan and U.S. soldiers is by Bryan Denton in The New York Times.)
The United States began its war in Afghanistan in October of 2001. That means the war has now entered its 18th year. And sadly, the end of that perpetual war is nowhere in sight.
The original excuse for the invasion of Afghanistan was to capture or kill Osama bin-Laden. That was unnecessary, since the government of Afghanistan said they would turn bin-Laden over for a trial in The Hague. That wasn't good enough for Bush though, so Americans weren't told of the offer and the country was invaded.
We later learned that the invasion was not necessary, since all it took to get bin-Laden was some good intelligence and a single Navy Seal Team.
After failing to find bin-Laden, Bush changed the mission of the war to bringing regime change and "freedom" to the Afghan people. That was even sillier than the original reason, since lasting regime change can't be imposed by military power. It must be imposed by the people of the country. We didn't learn that lesson in Vietnam, and don't seem to be learning it now in Afghanistan.
Now the reason given is to fight terrorism. But the military (ours or anyone else's) are not designed to fight terrorism, and terrorism has never been stopped by invading a country. It is far more effective to fight terrorism with diplomacy, intelligence, and law enforcement.
Now we are stuck in a war that seemingly has no end, and we are no closer to an end to it than we were many years ago. Americans now believe the invasion was a mistake, and Afghans are starting to blame the United States for their unending war.
The following is part of an article by Kathy Gannon for the Associated Press:
When U.S. forces and their Afghan allies rode into Kabul in November 2001 they were greeted as liberators. But after 17 years of war, the Taliban have retaken half the country, security is worse than it’s ever been, and many Afghans place the blame squarely on the Americans. The United States has lost more than 2,400 soldiers in its longest war, and has spent more than $900 billion on everything from military operations to the construction of roads, bridges and power plants. Three U.S. presidents have pledged to bring peace to Afghanistan, either by adding or withdrawing troops, by engaging the Taliban or shunning them. Last year, the U.S. dropped the “mother of all bombs” on a cave complex. None of it has worked. After years of frustration, Afghanistan is rife with conspiracy theories, including the idea that Americans didn’t stumble into a forever war, but planned one all along. Mohammed Ismail Qasimyar, a member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, wonders how U.S. and NATO forces — which at their peak numbered 150,000 and fought alongside hundreds of thousands of Afghan troops, were unable to vanquish tens of thousands of Taliban. “Either they did not want to or they could not do it,” he said. He now suspects the U.S. and its ally Pakistan deliberately sowed chaos in Afghanistan to justify the lingering presence of foreign forces — now numbering around 15,000 — in order to use the country as a listening post to monitor Iran, Russia and China. “They have made a hell, not a paradise for us,” he said. Afghanistan is rife with such conspiracy theories. After last month’s assassination of Kandahar’s powerful police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq, social media exploded with pictures and posts suggesting he was the victim of a U.S. conspiracy. Recent insider attacks, in which Afghan forces have killed their erstwhile U.S. and NATO allies, have attracted online praise. . . . It’s not just Afghans. The United States’ own inspector general for Afghanistan’s reconstruction offered a blistering critique in a speech in Ohio earlier this month. John Sopko pointed out that the U.S. has spent $132 billion on Afghanistan’s reconstruction — more than was spent on Western Europe after World War II. Another $750 billion has been spent on U.S. military operations, and Washington has pledged $4 billion a year for Afghanistan’s security forces. The result? “Even after 17 years of U.S. and coalition effort and financial largesse, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest, least educated, and most corrupt countries in the world,” Sopko said. “It is also one of the most violent.” Hamidullah Nasrat sells imported fabrics in the capital’s main bazaar on the banks of the Kabul River, a fetid trickle running through a garbage-filled trench. He remembers welcoming the overthrow of the Taliban, who had shut down his photography studio because it was deemed un-Islamic. “After the Taliban we were expecting something good, but instead, day by day, it is getting worse,” he said. “How is it that a superpower like the United States cannot stop the Taliban? It is a question every Afghan is asking.” The U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in 2014. Since then, the Taliban have carried out near-daily attacks on rural checkpoints and staged coordinated assaults on major cities. Authorities stopped publishing casualty figures earlier this year, deeming them classified. An Islamic State affiliate has meanwhile carried out massive bombings against the country’s Shiite minority.

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