The US war in Afghanistan began with a cruise missile strike on October 7, 2001. Now it may finally be ending. The agreement we signed with the Taliban yesterday says that the US will withdraw all troops from the country within 14 months; the Taliban promised not to let forces that threaten the US occupy their territory, and to enter talks with the Afghan government.
Trump and Pompeo both emphasized that if the Taliban do not keep up their end of the bargain, it will unravel and "we go back." Seems to me the Taliban have a big incentive to make it work for 14 months to get the US out.
So we wash our hands of a country we could not mold in our image. It's what I have wanted for 15 years, but I don't feel particularly happy about it. Once we pull out either the war will grind on for years, or the Taliban will seize power, neither one an appetizing option.
It's just a sad situation for a country that has been cursed for two generations.
Sunday, March 1, 2020
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So one of the world's major military powers invades Afghanistan to combat mujahideens, but gets bogged down because it's an unwinnable war with no achieveable objectives, and ultimately tries to save face when they "withdraw" by talking up the fact that they've signed a peace deal with the Taliban (who can surely be trusted!) and installed a puppet government of their ideological leaning (that surely won't be ineffective and collapse!), and therefor everything is just hunky-dory?
We've seen this song and dance before, performed by the Soviets in 1989.
If only the comparisons stopped there... but sadly no.
Like the Soviets, we're throwing absurd amounts of money into maintaining the world's most expensive and wasteful military, while simultaneously slashing funding for vital social institutions and failing to maintain our crumbling infrastructure. The political elites are corrupt and in bed with rich oligarchs, and the economy looks good on paper but woefully neglects the needs of the common citizen. Young people have no faith in their country and feel like they've been robbed of a hopeful future, while older generations stubbornly cling to the past and try with all their might to maintain the status quo and resist the change their children demand. The mood is ugly, people are divided, and many question how long it all can go on...
"We've seen this song and dance before, performed by the Soviets in 1989."
Try '74 - '75.
Oh, naturally, but people have short memories - the Vietnam war might as well have happened in the 16th century for many Americans.
But only twelve years elapsed between the Soviets retreating from Afghanistan in disgrace and the US charging in to try to do the exact same senseless thing.
Also, Vietnam isn't as strong of a parallel, as the political nature of the conflict was quite different, even if the lack of achieveable victory objectives and the impossibility of rooting out guerilla fighters in their own backyard was the same.
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