Trump sinking America deeper into unwinnable Afghanistan quagmire


President Trump is planning to send up to 5,000 additional American soldiers into Afghanistan to complement the 10,000 already there. Let's look at some numbers first:

1) $117 billion dollars. That's the amount of money we've spent on "development" projects in Afghanistan, much of which has been siphoned off for waste and corruption.

2) $50 billion dollars. That's how much money has been spent on military operations in Afghanistan alone in the past year.

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3) A trillion dollars. That's estimated to be the total cost of the war so far.

4) 2400. That's the number of Americans killed in Afganistan in combat; many times more were wounded.

5) 50%. That's the portion of the country that the Taliban control, after all of our efforts above.

And what have we gotten for all this effort? After spending billions on rebuilding Afghanistan, the locals hate us. They despise our culture and our freedoms. The government steals as much of our aid money as it can.

After 16 years the army still cannot defend itself. The leaders of the army are corrupt and siphon off military aid; the soldiers run away and hide.

The Taliban control nearly half the country. How have they managed to do that with spending less than 1% of what we have on the conflict? The answer is simple: the Afghan people love the Taliban. They love radical Islamic fundamentalism. They love tribalism. That's why they fight for the Taliban and why they won't fight for our vision of a liberal, pluralistic, unified Afghanistan. Read from this insider who has been to Afghanistan and seen firsthand:

....a team of soldiers and I were buttoned up inside the massive armored gun-trucks, juddering down rutted tracks as Pashtun men beside the road scowled and glared at us. The Afghans clearly weren’t valuing the American efforts. The navigator suddenly pointed—“IEDs.” Veering right, the MRAP driver managed to use “fuck” as a verb, adverb, adjective and noun in the same sentence. The tribesmen, yet un-subdued, were just waiting for their time.

The insurgents now control about half of the country. Taliban shadow governments operate in virtually every province, and control several of them....

Contorted by the enormous illegal opium industry, the Afghan government ranks among the world’s most corrupt; 9th on the Fragile States Index that assesses states’ vulnerability to conflict or collapse. The World Justice Project’s 2016 Rule of Law Index ranked Afghanistan 111 out of 113 countries assessed. The poorly commanded and deeply infiltrated Afghan security forces are losing the war.

An Afghan museum director told me, “I believe in our government, but not our leaders. They are mafia, all mafia. And I am sorry, sorry, but your government did that. Mafia.”

Soldiers I met in Afghanistan complained about billions being spent on often-spurious development projects, while their own families back home were struggling.

Now the U.S. military is re-escalating in Afghanistan. The Marines are back in Helmand Province. In April, the Pentagon requested “a few thousand” more troops, since upped to 5,000. It appears the generals want to re-escalate with the same failed 21st-century way of war. When Pentagon spokesmen requested more troops, they neglected to explain how a few more thousand soldiers could win the war when 100,000 didn’t....

As Gen. Stanley McChrystal said, “You can kill Taliban forever, because they are not a finite number.” It is time to accept the obvious: The war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. It is time for the U.S. to withdraw its troops, and let the Afghans sort out their own problems.

And yet the Trump administration wants to send a few thousand more troops in. It's a failed effort, and from past history it is clear it will make no difference. All that will happen is that more American money will be spent and more Americans will die.

A better alternative: pull out. Let the Taliban take over the country.

1) If they operate terrorist training bases, bomb them.

2) If they continue to train terrorists, give weapons to opposing tribesmen, as we did after 9/11, but don't send US soldiers in to fight, and don't give massive amounts of aid to prop up a "national" government.

3) Defoliate the poppy fields, something the Afghan government we are propping up refuses to let us do. This will cause a much needed source of funding for terrorism to dry up.

This is a low cost solution which will use a big enough stick to give the Taliban second thoughts about funding terrorism. At the same time it will save American lives and American money.

It is disappointing that President Trump is continuing down the same old path as his predecessors. More Americans more die and more money will be wasted for nothing. Trump supporters will give us the same tired arguments of how Trump is better than Hillary and this is only the fourth month of his presidency, but neither of those arguments address the fact that Trump is making a decision, now, which will only lead to more disaster.

[originally in AT]



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