Friday, July 30, 2010

Endgame in Afghanistan - Real Life Look at Troops in War

In his piece "Endgame in Afghanistan", British reporter Sean Smith provides a rare glimpse of the raw reality of the war in Afghanistan for American troops.

I initially supported the idea of a surge in troops for Afghanistan because it was sold as part of a comprehensive strategy to make sure that the U.S. would get out or reduce its presence in a reasonable amount of time. But as I have read more, and observed the is becoming clear that this is not the case. So, for me, the pendulum is swinging the other way. I actually had doubts about Afghanistan as far back as 2005, when it became clear that it was becoming a misguided quagmire. Without a comprehensive approach and not enough troops, the situation was allowed to get out of control under the Bush Administration. Without addressing the economic situation, the dire poverty of the people, education, the poppy farming (a huge problem), failing to win the support of the people, and not having enough troops to hold ground... it was bound to turn into an ugly stalemate. But I also understood from the beginning - a belief that is now reaffirmed- that trying to build a nation out of a part of the world where the ingredients for such a task simply don't exist in any practical sense. In Afghanistan there is generally no sense of nationalism, a fractious & heterogeneous population with verious different tribal and ethnic groups, life being driven at the local level, and thus no sense of collective national pride to motivate men to want to stand up an Army and fight for their own Country. In other words, the whole mission is built on a false premise.

It is clear that corruption is strangling efforts there. Furthermore, it is clear that the Afghans are not taking responsibility for their own security... at least the enthusiasm just doesn't seem to be there. So if they aren't willing to fight... we certainly shouldn't have our soldiers fighting and dying there. In order to gain control of Afghanistan, it would require at least 500,000 American/NATO troops. I (and others) have said that for years. There is no way that the U.S. or its NATO allies will ever send that many troops into this war. Hell, the U.S., with its military stretched so thin...and with its hunger to maintain some sort of empire with troops all over the world, doesn't have the troops to send. So what are we doing? Furthermore, we have to consider the fact that the nation is broke. We can't afford it. With no clear definition of what success is...what winning is.... and no clear, achievable goals... this war (with an initial attack that I believed was warranted back in 2002, although dubious) has changed over the last 9 years into something that no longer makes sense. So my view of this war has changed quite a bit, especially over the last 18 months.

But it is clear that the Obama Administration has no plans to get out of Afghanistan anytime soon. Americans were sold fools gold with the promise of a troop I suspected. President Obama can't leave & is planning to have our troops there for a number of years down the road (I will go into that a little more in a separate commentary). Although I think the crap about terrorists attacking us from Afghanistan...and it will be doomsday if we leave... we must stay there so they don't hit us at all a bunch of BS.

We are looking at 3-5 more years of this madness (at a minimum). Hard to understand...and getting harder everyday. I will write more on that in a future post.

From The Guardian:

As the war in Afghanistan enters its final chapter, Sean Smith's brutal, uncompromising film from the Helmand frontline shows the horrific chaos of a stalemate that is taking its toll in blood. Warning: contains distressing scenes and strong language


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