Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to Waste a Decade in Afghanistan

From Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, at the Wall Street Journal. According to the authors the White House is looking to keep as few as 3,000 to 4,000 troops in Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal:
Has the president decided to cut his losses or does he actually think that the U.S. will have succeeded in Afghanistan at the end of his second term? Does it even matter?

Success in Afghanistan has always meant driving al Qaeda out and preventing it from returning. The U.S. cleared al Qaeda from the country in 2001-02 quickly, and with few forces. American efforts have since aimed at creating conditions in which Afghanistan will be able to keep al Qaeda out with limited international assistance. This part of the task has always been the most difficult. Yet it remains as vital today as it was in 2001. Failing at it means letting al Qaeda regain its footing in the land from which it launched the most devastating terror attack against the U.S. in history.

It might be comforting to imagine that killing Osama bin Laden and other key leaders has neutralized al Qaeda, or that the terror group is no longer seeking to return to Afghanistan when other theaters of jihad are available. But Ayman al Zawahiri has solidly replaced bin Laden at the helm, and other lieutenants have filled vacancies in the organization. Despite the dramatic expansion of al Qaeda franchises in Yemen, Somalia, North Africa and Syria since President Obama took office, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region remains the headquarters of the global al Qaeda movement. It is also home to the largest concentration of regional and global Islamist terrorist organizations in the world.

The reasons are simple. Pakistan does not effectively govern, police or control a large area on its side of the border—and Afghan and international forces have been fighting hard to gain control of a larger area on the Afghan side that is also historically difficult for Kabul to control. The very concentration of terrorist groups in this area is itself a reason for them to remain there, where they can communicate and support one another easily and directly. They share logistics facilities, training areas, weapons factories and many other critical pieces of terrorist infrastructure that would be hard and costly to replicate elsewhere.

The U.S. has long recognized that some ungoverned space will remain in Afghanistan—and in Pakistan. One aim of America's efforts in Afghanistan has been to reduce the size of this terrorist-friendly area while making it difficult for terrorists to operate in what remains. The U.S. has pursued that aim by building an Afghan National Security Force tied both to a minimally functional Afghan government and to international forces over the long term.

The strategy was not to build an ANSF that could function without any international assistance. Creating a fully independent ANSF, if possible at all, would take decades. Even our European allies—France and Britain included—require significant American logistical and air support to conduct major operations. No one has ever imagined that the Afghan army would do better than the French.

For all of these reasons the Obama administration will no doubt promise that the U.S. will continue to provide assistance to the Afghan military in addition to continuing counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. But the military reality is that we cannot conduct either mission at the force level the president is considering....

If a much-reduced U.S. force level is announced, Afghans will say that the Americans have abandoned their country. They will be right. With a drastically reduced U.S. presence, the Afghan government and army will fracture, warlords will begin fighting each other and the insurgents and terrorists in ungoverned spaces. The conditions will be ideal for al Qaeda's return.

That's failure. And it will matter.
Well, it won't matter to Obama.

He lied about his commitment to Afghanistan for crass political reasons. See: "Abandoning Afghanistan."

And flashback at AoSHQ, "Liberal Blogger Admits: We Claimed to Support 'The Good War' in Afghanistan as Political Strategy to Prove Our "Macho" Credentials; We Never Meant It."

Exactly. It was never a good war. These people are f-king depraved liars and hypocrites.