I’ve read that, too, Clark, and it’s good to see the Pentagon acknowledging a failure relatively quickly. What’s surprising to me is that there are no alternative strategies being proposed (not that I’ve seen, anyway). It’s as if everyone is resigned to leaving Afghanistan with a weak central government that probably won’t last long after coalition troops out.
Which raises John Kerry’s old question from Vietnam: How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
It seems to me that the Taliban are willing to do anything to win and the central government is so corrupt not much can be done there. I bet we pull back and primarily use drones and special forces. Not much else we can do. I don’t know that it was a mistake given 9/11. But even then people said we should be open eyed about the nature of Afghanistan and I think people on both sides were more than a little naive. Between Afghanistan and the worse Pakistan I’m not sure what to think. No good answers and I’m not sure Viet Nam is a good comparison as there really wasn’t any good reason to be there. (And had the Kennedy and Johnson administrations handled negotiations better early on I think it could have been avoided) In Aghanistan and Pakistan we have the spectre of crazed religious zealots obtaining nuclear weapons and they’d love to use it against us. So we can really leave but much of what we do makes things worse not better. Glad I’m not in charge although I really hoped for more from Obama on this.
I should’ve been clearer. I don’t think it was a mistake to invade Afghanistan. I didn’t think so when we did it, and I don’t think so now. The mistake I’m referring to is still being in Afghanistan a decade later, with no apparent plan to achieve whatever indistinct goals we still have.
Our goals in 2001 and 2002 were clear. The Taliban had harbored and supported al-Qaeda, and we invaded as a punishment and to remove the source of the September 11 attacks. I agreed with Obama that the Bush administration’s shift from Afghanistan to Iraq was wrong but didn’t agree that that wrong could be righted by trying to pick up in 2009 the thread that was dropped in 2003. I had hopes that he would let that campaign promise slide, but he didn’t.