Eliot Cohen on the Afghan War
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  • thibaud

    “Without the strong backing of the President it is small wonder that support for the war is low”

    I’ve never cared much for Obama, in large measure because of his rank opportunism regarding our wars in Iraq, Afgh and globally vs Al Qaeda, but this new line of criticism isn’t fair.

    Whether you think Afghanistan was “the good war” and Iraq “the wrong war,” or both wars equally necessary (or both wars equally unnecessary) – it doesn’t matter anymore. We’ve lost. Our Afghan “allies” are useless, our Pakistani non-allies are stabbing us every chance they can, and our NATO allies have headed for the exits.

    It’s over, and it’s really pretty foolish at this point to ask Pres. Obama, or a Pres. Romney, to waste his very scarce political capital on a multi-decade sinkhole that probably should have been a brief punitive expedition.

    Obama is speaking softly and carrying a big drone. Plus using special ops adroitly all over the world. That’s exactly the right policy.

  • SteveMG

    If we can believe the Woodward book (“Obama’s Wars”) the president was as least as concerned, if not more, with “losing the whole Democratic Party” then with winning (however defined) in Afghanistan.

    I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that the plan was to try and stabilize things enough for a orderly withdrawal.

    Obama’s heart was never in this war despite all of his talk about it being a “war of necessity” and one that was vital to American security (see his speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2008).

    As the saying goes, armies don’t fight wars, nations do. If the nation isn’t behind a war and the president doesn’t want to use political capital changing that view, there is simply nothing the greatest military in the history of the world can do about it. It’s not winnable.

  • John Barker

    WRM or some of our learned commentators need to discuss some of the possible scenarios which may result from Mr. Obama’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. One can be sure that the MSM will not dare mention it.

  • Raymond R

    Mr. Cohen’s opinions are well worth listening to. I just finished reading his excellent book “Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles along the Great Warpath that Made the American Way of War”

  • “Our mission in Afghanistan” is… what? Why?

    Do Republicans, in their love of the military, just keep on fighting regardless of any semblance of reason… just because we ARE fighting? Do Democrats just reflexively run-away from a fight – any fight? I don’t really care right now with regard to Afghanistan. We seem to be at the point reached by Colonel David Hackworth, one of America’s most decorated soldiers, when he threw-up his hands in Vietnam and said he’d never allow HIS son to fight there.

    A muslim zealot used Afghanistan to attack America. The then-government, which we had long ignored, refused to give him up. So we attacked them and put bin laden on the run. Capturing or killing bin laden was our original goal. Done. The conceit that we can, in historic terms, instantly make post-Enlightenment Westerners out of arguably the most tribal, illiterate and backward people on the planet is and always has been absurd. (And my brother taught physics in the University of Kabul in 1977, so I have some idea of what I speak.) If it remains our conceit that we can overturn the Koran and its teachings on women, liberty, freedom, law, reason, etc., and if this conceit is why we continue to waste Western lives (and there is NOTHING in the entire muslim world worth the life of one single Westerner, let alone one American), then we are crazy. And I am not some whacky leftist- I went to school at USAFA during Vietnam.

    It is not and cannot be America’s role to force the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the Age of Reason, the Information Age, or any other idea down the throats of people killing one another – and their own daughters – for a thousands years based on some tribal mythology.

    Had we understood history, and that limited war NEVER works, and total war almost always does (who was a better American military and economic ally: Japan or Germany in 1965, or Vietnam in 1995?). Had we truly understood history and our role as a Great Power, when bin laden was in Tora Bora – no farms or families or cities within tens of miles – we would have removed the entire top of the range with a couple of nuclear weapons, destroying bin laden and ensuring the world understood America was not playing-around, that we take Freedom and peace seriously, this would have been over thousands of irreplaceable American lives ago.

    Instead, we decided, again, and again incorrectly, that limited war would convince these midieval warriors that our toys were so cool they could never possibly win, when, of course, it is the will to win that wins wars, not cool toys. And of course they now are winning, or have won… because they, unlike we, have the will to do so.

    War is policy, not a manhood measurement. The Left hates ramification and consequences of actions, so no longer willingly goes to war (though wars entered under Democrat presidents account for 98% of all American KIA since 1812), and the GOP hates to stop fighting, seeing it as somehow more patriotic to keep throwing-away the lives not only of our best & brightest, but of the children those best & brightest will never have… just because we find ourselves on the field of combat.

    It is time to quit the field in Afghanistan, or to destroy the enemy. Stop wasting lives. If they attack us again, nuke them. If they don’t, but continue treating women as worthless, that’s THEIR problem, not mine, and certainly not my son’s. And if you don’t like the way they treat their women, don’t pretend you’re a “multicultural” person. But recognize this: It’s THEIR problem.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Obama is by far the worst President in my lifetime, beating out Jimmy Carter for the title by a significant margin. If I wanted America to fail, I would chose Obama for President.

  • Brendan Doran

    What is our Mission in Afghanistan? Since it’s far from over – although we are done.

  • rkka

    “A muslim zealot used Afghanistan to attack America.”

    Actually, the attack was planned in Germany by Saudis/Pakistanis.

    On to Berlin/Riyadh/Islamabad, right Mead?

  • Kris

    [email protected]: “And my brother taught physics in the University of Kabul in 1977, so I have some idea of what I speak.”

    To the contrary, if a close gene-sharer of yours had such bad sense, it speaks poorly of your wisdom! 🙂

  • Zhulfiqar

    It behooves WRM to mention that Prof. Cohen is also strongly and publicly connected to Romney’s election campaign.

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