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Afghanistan in Peril
A Bloody Summer Ahead in Afghanistan

Panic is rising in a major city in northern Afghanistan as the Taliban steps up attacks. The Times of London reports that Taliban forces are pushing towards the city of Kunduz, prompting the country’s government to send troops to the area:

Heavy fighting was reported in five of the seven districts around Kunduz after attacks began on Monday. Analysts described the Taliban attack as “significant and dangerous” and estimated the number of insurgents involved to be in the high hundreds or low thousands.

The attack on the city of about 300,000 is the opening salvo of what is expected to be a bloody summer in Afghanistan, where government forces face the insurgents with only limited support from Nato aircraft or troops.

High profile Taliban gains and the atrocities that are likely to follow (stonings, beheadings, and worse) will not help the Administration persuade people of its foreign policy brilliance this summer, nor will the Iranians fail to note what the mess in Afghanistan says about the strength of American resolve. If, in the end, Obama was just going to withdraw from Afghanistan, he could have done that back in 2009. And if the Taliban is reasserting its hold on the country, a lot of veterans and the families of a lot of dead Americans will be asking what the sacrifices were for.

As WRM wrote on Sunday, if it helps to grasp the scale of the debacle, imagine what we’d be saying if a Republican President were in office as the country fell slipped back into the hands of the Taliban.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    With no disrespect to veterans and families of dead Americans, no one quite explained that the sacrifices of military families would be irredeemable without permanent (permanent) occupation of several Muslim countries. “Imagine what we’d be saying if a Republican president” had known such truth and told such truth in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

    • MLJ

      Eh… WRM wants a job in the next admin, which has a strong Republican field. (Most liberals are voting for Hillary while holding their nose, which is not a good sign for her campaign.) I also think one of their interns from this year has a stronger Republican voice than they have had in the past. This post was not written by WRM. His criticism usually focuses more on the MSM than politics.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Perhaps.

        It’s popular among some these days to imply that Obama lost Afghanistan and Iraq, AS THOUGH we would not have been calling upon tons of others for additional sacrifice in order to maintain the alternative—–occupation and combat forever.

        • Dale Fayda

          Most common excuse of a loser: “I lost, because it would have been too hard to try to win”.

          Face it, FG – Obama LOST Iraq and is now half-assedly trying to hold on a at least a portion of it and he’s about to lose his “war of necessity” in Afghanistan. If Obungo wanted to abandon Afghanistan, he could have done so in 2009. Instead, he reluctantly announced a smaller-than-requested troop surge, never even spoke with the commander he appointed there, Gen. McChrystal, sacked him after he had the “temerity” to criticize our boy-king’s incoherent strategy and then basically ignored the place altogether.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Presumably you still believe that we infidels can use our military and hundreds of billions of dollars for “nation-building” everywhere to make Muslims into Christians or, at least, into secularists. Have you noticed there is no record of that working anywhere?

          • Dale Fayda

            Nice try at mis-direction.

            No one (not Bush, not Obama) has tried to turn Muslims into Christians or into anything else. Both have been MORE than respectful (if not obsequious) of the Islamic culture. Both Iraq and Syria were ruled for decades by Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, a pretty darn secularist group, wouldn’t you say?

            The extent of the US “turning” the Muslims into anything in Afghanistan was to try to limit honor killings of women and stoning of prostitutes. And to try and teach their children to read. Oh, the horror of US imperialism…

            You can stow the “personal sacrifices” canard. The primary function of the President of the US is to conduct foreign affairs; wars, if necessary and to follow through with cold-eyed resolve. It’s not to lead the troops into battle personally, like Alexander the Great.

            Speaking of personal sacrifice, when are we going to see that check for additional money to the IRS we discussed a while back? Much easier to do than demanding a sick man like Cheney lead an attack on a Taliban position, no?

            The bottom line is that Obama repeatedly called Afghanistan a “war of necessity”, did he not? We (conservatives) knew he was lying, you (liberals) knew he was lying, the Taliban knew he was lying and the Afghan government knew he was lying. He announced a half-hearted surge, because it was politically expedient at the time, while also announcing the withdrawal date, sort of like printing the dates for the wedding and for the divorce on the same invitation. He couldn’t bring himself to even utter the word “victory”, instead twisting himself into a pretzel in attempts to explain what he was trying to accomplish with the surge.

            In short, the results of Obama’s actions in both Iraq were a disaster for both the population of Iraq and for the US interests in the entire region. The results of his actions in Afghanistan will almost surely result in the return of the Taliban to power there and will result in a tragedy for the population of Afghanistan and for the US interests in that entire region.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Actually, both Bush AND Obama have tried in different ways to turn Muslim-majority nations into western-style secularism where sensible voters vanquish radicalism. So far, we do not see it working anywhere in the absence of dictators.

            As for Bush, Cheney and Obama, of course I did not expect any of them to be on the battlefields. I do expect them to be careful with other Americans’ lives, however. A lot of sacrifice got “sent” in the last administration for purposes no one can yet explain adequately. A lot of money disappeared too.

            As for the mistreatment of women and girls in Islamic places, many Americans wanted to help the “many” men of those places overcome the “few” who were the bad actors. When Americans discovered that actually the “many” men of these places don’t give a damn about such things (which is why neither Afghanistan nor Iraq could stand up trained forces), then we begin to see the problem differently.

            At this time, we are in the “how bad can it get before men of these regions question Mohammad?” phase. It may take a while yet, and the same groups of American people who got “sent” last time may not be so eager to go hit their heads against a wall again. Obama has respected that more than you admit..

          • Dale Fayda

            In which way, exactly, did Bush and Obama try to secularize Afghanistan, other than trying to somewhat mitigate the every-day Islamic barbarism which passes for culture in that part of the world?

            Once again, I ask you and I would like a straight answer instead of a bunch of pabulum about “sacrifice” – why did repeatedly Obama call Afghanistan a “war of necessity” if he had no intention of winning it? Why did he not abandon it back in 2009, like you appear to suggest he should have? Why “hit their head against the wall” if you have no real intention to bring your war plans to fruition or indeed lack a plan altogether?

            OK, let me dumb it down even more for you… What do you think Obama wanted to accomplish in Afghanistan with his surge? Did he accomplish his goals? After the US withdraws, do you think he’s going to call Afghanistan a “success” of his administration, like he did Iraq in 2011? If not, why not?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Bush hoped (as we all did) that Afghanistan could be cleared of Al Qaeda and Taliban, then would hold elections which would usher in peace and progress for citizens, especially women and girls. We hoped we could speak respectfully of Islam and could help with all kinds of humanitarian and construction aid. We hoped people of good will there would agree that we are not some Great Satan, but also people of good will—–and that the Afghans could be moved toward “happily ever after”. We are all disappointed that this didn’t happen in 2003-2008, much less in Obama’s time.

            Obama called Afghanistan a war of necessity, I imagine, because of the central location of Al Qaeda at 9/11/2001. We were attacked, and a response was required. I think it’s also possible that Obama did not know how intractable Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, Somalia, Egypt, (and maybe some others) actually are. But Bush didn’t either.

            Now, in hindsight, we do. Faulting Obama for not running campaigns and occupations of all these troubled places is unrealistic. If you elect Jeb Bush or Rubio or Walker, any of them will quickly run right into that same reality.

          • Dale Fayda

            Horse puckey.

            Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Somalia and Nigeria were all very much “tractable” at the end of Bush’s term. And NO ONE mentioned anything about Obama being obligated to run “military campaigns and occupations in all those troubled places”. This discussion is not about Islamic disfunction in general (no argument from me), but about the results of Obama’s action and/or inaction in a specific country – Afghanistan and about the comparative results of the policies of both Bush and Obama at the ends of their respective terms in office.

            Once again, you tried to change the subject and avoided answering most of my questions.

            I’ll try again.

            At the beginning of 2009, Barack Obama had (2) basic choices with regard to Afghanistan – continue to occupy and to pacify the country until the Afghan government was strong enough to contain the Taliban on their own OR to effect a swift withdrawal because the place is just so darn “intractable”. He chose the former, while giving a firm date for the latter, the second part being an act such galactic stupidity that it still boggles the mind. If the Taliban announce that if at the end of a few years a victory was not achieved they would withdraw from the country into Pakistan, what would our reaction to that be? I know Obama would be claiming victory and the military top brass would the jumping for joy. By announcing the surge, Obama had hoped for some sort of a quantifiable result, yes? What, in your opinion, was that result? On the eve on US departure from Afghanistan, do you think that result was achieved? In other words, did Obama’s strategy work? What do you think the results of the US withdrawal will be in the short to medium term?

            If, in your opinion, Obama’s strategy (such as it were) didn’t achieve its goals and the results of the US withdrawal in the short to medium term as likely to be dire for Afghanistan and for American interests in the region, then he will have failed, yes? If the country falls to the Taliban again, then Obama will have LOST Afghanistan, yes?

            I

          • FriendlyGoat

            You are demanding that Obama should have chosen to maintain a permanent occupation in Afghanistan when most Americans are fed up with the nonsense of that country and several others. You are also admitting (thankfully) Islamic dysfunction anywhere that Islamic voters allow Islam to be involved in a government—-which, it turns out, is nearly anywhere a majority of Muslim voters actually exists.

            Now, can you put two and two together and admit that Jeb Bush, Scott Walker or Marco Rubio is going to have all the same problems and no more budget or American mandate than Obama has to straighten out all these radicals with the American military?

          • Dale Fayda

            Why “permanent occupation”? Whatever gave you that idea? Given Afghanistan’s history, I’d settle for a reasonably stable, reasonably US-friendly central government, which doesn’t blind its girls for trying to attend school, like the Taliban, who could have been driven to the margins of the country, if not eliminated altogether. All very do-able and all on its way to being done, until Obama chose to use “smart power” or “leading from behind” or “don’t do stupid stuff” or whatever other mental midgetry emanated from his collection of “wizards of smart”.

            Yes, the next president, most likely a Republican, is going to have to deal with the results of Obama’s dithering, parsing, laziness and inattention to the Afghan conflict. He had several years to get it done, but he didn’t, because he didn’t really want to – too busy “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

            That is my whole point.

            As for Islamic dysfunction, I’ve never given you the slightest bit of argument on that. In my humble opinion, Islam represents an existential threat to the Judeo-Christian civilization and every single self-identified Muslim is either an active or a potential enemy of the Western world.

        • rheddles

          Like our occupation and combat forever in Germany, Japan and Korea? It would have lasted for decades, but it would have established a far less violent environment and the foundation for some sort of civil society, sustainable but unlike our own. Obama’s abandonment of the Iraqi people as well as his abandonment of the broader Middle Eastern peoples will be seen as one of histories great tragedies. He will take his place with WT Wilson in the pantheon of pathetic prophets.

          Afghanistan was always hopeless and should have been abandoned by Bush as soon as possible.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Afghanistan was the only excuse we ever had for invasion. We imagined that cleaning out certain terrorists would avenge 9/11 and fix life for other Afghans. We over-imagined.

          • rheddles

            Avenge, yes. Only the naive believed we could fix the place. Even fixing Iraq was a long shot and might have taken over a century.

  • mdmusterstone

    Pls excuse
    FG this didn’t show up as a reply when posted before.

    I don’t want to “imply” that Obama lost Afghanistan
    I want to assert the obvious, he is responsible for where we are today. Let’s turn this around for a second, what if
    these six years on in the Obama administration, Afghanistan was a beacon of
    democracy, not just in the region but the world, with a roaring legal economy, can
    anyone name a resident of the White House who would be stepping forward on
    frequent occasions all puff-chested and clear voiced to say… “I directed
    changes …My plans, unlike my predecessor …Unlike Bush, I knew that… etc, etc,
    etc.

    Was Iraq
    and Afghanistan
    too difficult a set of problems for O?
    Then he shouldn’t have run for an office where the
    buck-would-stop-at-his-desk especially since there so many neighborhoods yet to
    be organized. And by the way can anyone
    name a president in the 20th century who wasn’t handed a hellacious whirlwind
    of one kind or other when coming into office?
    When you are in a position to get the lauds you are also in a position
    to take the rap on the knuckles.

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