Thursday, October 8, 2009

Afghanistan Outlook Bleak

The more I study our options in Afghanistan, the more discouraged I feel, and the more I question the wisdom of continuing a war there.  Recent news adds to my doubts.

AQ Afghanistan "The Al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies."

Less than 100! And he is basing his conservative estimate on the best intelligence data available to our government. That means that Al Qaeda, for all practical purposes, does not exist in Afghanistan--so why are we having a big debate about sending even more troops to fight an enemy that has relocated elsewhere? Because of the blind belief, in the minds of those like John McCain, determined to "win" in Afghanistan, that if we don't escalate, Al Qaeda will inevitably come back.

Why? It's not like Al Qaeda is an evil weed indigenous to Afghanistan and dependent on its climate and soil for survival. Its members were foreign imports in the first place, recruited by our CIA to fight the Soviets because there were evidently not enough locals to do the job. After all, US officials first forged the alliance between the foreign fighters and the Afghan mujahedeen, who morphed into the Taliban, and we should not be surprised that that tenuous alliance ended. The Taliban and other insurgents are preoccupied with the future of Afghanistan, while the Arab fighters couldn't care less and have moved on to more hospitable climes.

There is no indication that any of the contending forces in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, are interested in bringing Al Qaeda back. On the contrary, all the available evidence indicates that the Arab fighters are unwelcome and that it is their isolation from their former patrons that has led to their demise.

As such, while one wishes that the Afghan people would put their houses in order, these are not, even after eight long years of occupation, our houses. Sure, there are all sorts of angry people in Afghanistan, eager to pick fights with each other and most of all any foreigners who seem to be threatening their way of life, but why should that any longer have anything to do with us?

Even in neighboring Pakistan, the remnants of Al Qaeda are barely hanging on. As the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, "Hunted by US drones, beset by money problems and finding it tougher to lure young Arabs to the bleak mountains of Pakistan, Al Qaeda is seeing its role shrink there and in Afghanistan, according to intelligence reports and Pakistan and US officials..... For Arab youths who are al Qaeda's primary recruits, 'it's not romantic to be cold and hungry and hiding,' said a senior US official in South Asia."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Nation>

Less that 100 fighters?!!?  No wonder the Afghans are more worried about Al Dubya than Al Qaeda!  If thats all it takes for war, the US may invade Brooklyn!  There are probably more AQ there.

One man, Charlie Wilson, probably knows more about Afghanistan than any other.  He’s the guy that started it all, first organizing US aid for the mujahedeen.  Yesterday he revealed his position,

WilsonNOW Former congressman Charlie Wilson (D-TX) has some advice for the Obama administration. Get out of Afghanistan.

Charlie Wilson should know. His efforts to arm the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet occupation in the 1980's led to a book and a movie called "Charlie Wilson's War."

Using his seat on the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, he was able secure enough funds for the CIA to arm the mujahideen freedom fighters with automatic weapons and Stinger missiles, which may have ultimately led to the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.

The story did not end there, but rather took on a new twist with the emergence of the Taliban and the Al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, who was a mujahideen fighter in the 1980's. Mr. Wilson believes that the United States' failure to invest in Afghanistan's recovery following the war led in large part to the ascension of the Taliban who provided refuge to Bin Laden in the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks

...In a telephone interview with the Scranton Times-Tribune of Pennsylvania, Wilson said he advocates a "calculated withdrawal" of American troops from the country, "rather than lose a lot of soldiers and treasure." Regarding the Afghan freedom fighters he continued, "I'd rather take on a chain saw, they're the world's best foot soldiers, best warriors. And they're fearless. They're fearless, and they've got nothing to lose. And they have a pretty serious hatred for those who try to occupy their country." (See:

As President Obama and congress are debating whether or not to send additional troops and escalate the war, WIlson worries that Afghanistan will become "another Vietnam."

Indeed, history has shown that Afghanistan is nearly impossible to invade and successfully occupy. The United States is following a long line of empires and conquerors that have met their end in Afghanistan. The Median and Persian Empires, Alexander the Great, the Seleucids, the Indo-Greeks, Turks, Mongols, British and Soviets all met the end of their ambitions in Afghanistan. It is known as the place "where empires go to die." [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Examiner>

If the US has supported Afghanistan after they evicted the Soviets, 9/11 would not have happened.  Why didn’t we?  GHW Bush and the GOP did not want to invest in people once they had accomplished what we wanted.  If the US had supported Afghanistan after we defeated the Taliban there, we would not be in the mess there we are today.  Why didn’t we?  GW Bush and the GOP had no interest in helping Afghanistan.  First, the installed a puppet from Unocal as their President in the hope of building a pipeline from the Stans to Karachi to wrest control of the natural gas in that region from Russia.  Then they went on to fight a bogus war for oil and conquest in Iraq.  So what the Bush boys and the GOP have taught the Afghans is that we will abandon them unless we want something enough to occupy their country.  No wonder the feel bushwhacked!

After 9/11 Afghanistan was the right war at the right time.  But, in the intervening years, Bush/GOP policies have turned the people against us.  I think it may well be to late, and we have missed our opportunity there.


the walking man said...

Hypothetically we withdraw, then what?

We have left the table open to them with the most guns and largest capacity for force to implement the theocracy and abuse of females onto a society that will from fear accept it. And in that abandonment we also allow for the return from their Pakistani exile.

If we leave this open ended it will come back to haunt us so it looks like a classical damned if you do and damned if you don't.

if we withdraw, withdraw 100%, and use those troops to throw a solid ring around our borders that let no container or package or person through that can not be PROVEN to have ill intent towards North America.

Brother Tim said...

You know my stance on Afghanistan, so I won't explicate or elucidate.

Man, I sure wish I didn't miss the news cycle of God dying and turning over all His authority to the U.S. Government. ;)

TomCat said...

Mark, from what I understand, AQ in Pakistan is almost as weak as in Afghanistan. I think that, whichever faction in Afghanistan takes over, they will recognize that hosting AQ invites strikes from the US and keep them out in self-interest. Frankly, as much as we have done to screw up that country, I don't like the idea of not making things right, but we can't force enlightenment on a culture that is virtually stone-age. Even those women you want to protect would line up to cut our troops' throats. I reject your nuclear option on principal. What other solution is there?

Brother, God didn't die. He was just replaced with Supply-side Jesus.

the walking man said...

Tom I thought I made it clear that the nuclear option came off the table after they knew who, what, when and where but chose to waste the good will of the world by invading a sovereign nation named Iraq.

I understand that wiping out the theocracy of the Taliban and it's supporters would in fact meaning wiping out 40% of the Afghan population. This is new information to me and that I would find unacceptable.

So I am not sure now what the course is.

RealityZone said...

if i am harboring a mass murderer do th epolice come and blow my house up, including my family? NO !! of course not. the taliban never declared war on the u.s.a. we invaded a sovereign country under the guise of getting al quaida, and bin laden. mullah omar would eventually have given up bin laden. but the shrub wanted no part of that. the plans to attack iraq were made days if not hours after 9/11.

the walking man said...

I do remember a time in Philadelphia where the police burned an entire block down trying to arrest a few thieves. Another time in Waco. Ruby Ridge they left the house standing. So I don't think the analogy quite fits because the police will blow your house up if they want to or by accident...ether or, the result is the same.

fact is the Taliban did not turn bin Laden over, they had him, they decided that Sharia law required them to protect him as a guest in their house.

fact is the Taliban and their extreme philosophy based in Wahabism is a declared war on all peoples not like them.

fact is that in his 1996 fatwa bin Laden declared war on the US and any US citizen wherever they could be found and by harboring him, in extension the Taliban and Mullah Omar became participants of that 1006 declaration which bin laden has never refuted. Never refuted despite the paper itself being said to not have the force of Islamic sharia behind it by actual imams of Islam.

fact is although not irrelevant to the discussion bush and his asshole administration is no longer in control of our military.

TomCat said...

Mark, I'm sorry. If you did, it escaped me. I knew it would kill almost half the country, not to mention a few in surrounding countries as well. I never realized you didn't know that.

RZ, Bush's plans to attack Iraq were actually made well before 9/11. 9/11 was just the excuse. Mark is right. Out federal police agencies have a long history of wiping out multiple innocents to be sure of getting the guilty one.

Mark, the Taliban are primarily Pashtunwali in their beliefs. Wahhabism takes second place. The requirement of hospitality when they had Osama is part of the Pashtunwali code.

In my opinion, the would not want to put themselves back in the position of hospitality toward AQ.