21 March, 2012

Who's the enemy?

afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)
I've known for some time that NATO and the United States are not, let us say, on the best of terms with the people and government of Afghanistan.  But even I have been surprised by the most recent numbers.  Since the first of the year sixty NATO troops, mostly American, have been killed in Afghanistan.  Of those, thirteen were killed by Afghan security forces.

Twenty-two percent of fatal casualties were inflicted by the people we are supposedly training, our allies.

General Allen, NATO commander in Afghanistan, told Congress in testimony the killings "were motivated, we believe in part, by the mishandling of religious materials."  There's a lot more than that going on. The Quran burning is symbolic of larger issues: cultural insensitivity, imperialism, warlordism, ethnic conflict, arrogance, fundamentalism (on all sides).

We are not going to make Afghanistan safe, or a reliable partner, and an essential test of a strategy is that the goals are achieveable.  The minimal victory conditions (Taliban deposed, Bin Laden on the run) were met long ago.  The maximum goals are beyond reach.  It's long past time to "declare victory" and go home.

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Anonymous said...

The continued American presence in Afghanistan is likely a result of a political calculation. Voters who prefer to withdraw the troops whatever the consequences are unlikely to desert to Republicans. Others may be angered if the Taliban returns to power soon after the withdrawal.

Daniel McIntosh said...

I sure hope it's the result of a political calculation. War, after all, is political. But the calculation you describe is strictly domestic--it seems to miss the idea of a national interest independent of whether X or Y remains in office. And that may be much of what's wrong with American foreign policy.