Barack Obama campaigned on escalating the war on Afghanistan. His supporters either agreed with that, avoided knowing it, or told themselves that in their hero's heart of hearts he secretly opposed it -- which was apparently sufficient compensation for many when he went ahead and did it. He tripled the U.S. forces and escalated the bombings and creating a campaign of drone murder. By every measure -- death, destruction, financial expense, troop deployment -- the war on Afghanistan is more Obama's war than anyone else's.
Candidate Trump said: "Let's get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghans we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA."
President Trump escalated and continued the war, albeit at a much smaller scale than Obama had. And he had lied about the amount of money being spent. The notion that it could all be spent on useful things in the United States either underestimates the amount of money or overestimates U.S. greed and powers of imagination. This amount of money is so vast that one would almost certainly have to spend it on more than one country if spending it on useful human and environmental needs.
The people in charge of the war don't believe in it any more than the troops they order around.
The view that further war, in particular with drones, is counterproductive on its own terms is shared by:
--U.S. Lt. General Michael Flynn, who quit as head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in August 2014: "The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just" fuels the conflict."
--Former CIA Bin Laden Unit Chief Michael Scheuer, who says the more the United States fights terrorism the more it creates terrorism.
--The CIA, which finds its own drone program "counterproductive."
--Admiral Dennis Blair, the former director of National Intelligence: While "drone attacks did help reduce the Qaeda leadership in Pakistan," he wrote, "they also increased hatred of America."
--Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "We're seeing that blowback. If you're trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you're going to upset people even if they're not targeted."
--Sherard Cowper-Coles, Former U.K. Special Representative To Afghanistan: "For every dead Pashtun warrior, there will be 10 pledged to revenge."
--Matthew Hoh, Former Marine Officer (Iraq), Former US Embassy Officer (Iraq and Afghanistan): "I believe it's [the escalation of the war/military action] only going to fuel the insurgency. It's only going to reinforce claims by our enemies that we are an occupying power, because we are an occupying power. And that will only fuel the insurgency. And that will only cause more people to fight us or those fighting us already to continue to fight us." -- Interview with PBS on Oct 29, 2009
--General Stanley McChrystal: "For every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies ."
-- Lt. Col. John W. Nicholson Jr.: This commander of the war who left that position last month, like most of the people above, pulled "an Eisenhower" and blurted out his opposition to what he'd been doing on his last day of doing it. The war should be ended, he said.
The Afghans have not benefitted
It's much desired in the United States to imagine that wars benefit the people bombed, and then to lament and point to their ignorant inability to feel grateful as a sign that they are in need of more bombing. In reality, this war has taken a deeply troubled and impoverished country and made it 100 times worse, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the process, creating a refugee crisis being addressed courageously by Pakistan, and helping to destabilize half the globe.
The purposes have not been admirable.
Invading Afghanistan had little or nothing to do with bin Laden or 9-11. The motivations in 2001 were in fact related to fossil fuel pipelines, the positioning of weaponry, political posturing, geo-political posturing, maneuvering toward an invasion of Iraq, patriotic cover for power grabs and unpopular policies at home, and profiteering from war and its expected spoils. These are all either indefensible arguments or points that might have been negotiated or accomplished without bombs. During the course of the war its proponents have often been quite open about its actual purpose.
Permanent bases make war permanent and do not bring peace.
They just cut the ribbon for new construction at Camp Resolute Support. Can a ground breaking at Fort Over My Dead Body be far behind. It's important that we understand that permanent peace-bringing bases are neither.
The U.S. has no responsibility to do something before it gets the hell out.
After the United States gets out, Afghanistan will continue to be one of the worst places on earth. It will be even worse, the longer the departure is delayed. Getting out is the principle responsibility. The United States has no responsibility to do anything else first, such as negotiating the future of the Afghan people with some of their war lords. If I break into your house and kill your family and smash your furniture, I don't have a moral duty to spend the night and meet with a local gang to decide your fate. I have a moral and legal responsibility to get out of your house and turn myself in at the nearest police station.
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