Las Vegas Sun

January 29, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Nothing left to gain in Afghanistan

The initial strikes on and invasion of Afghanistan had clear objectives. We had just endured the 9/11 tragic devastation and were targeting the home base of the Taliban political and terrorist refuge, and the al Qaida brain trust who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. Initial American objectives were achieved. The Taliban was driven from power. Al Qaida and its leaders were driven from Afghanistan. We witnessed satisfying results, including a return of human rights which had been brutally repressed under Taliban rule. These were welcome accomplishments and results.

But after these initial successes, something went astray. American planners took their eye off the ball in Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq being a major distraction, and in the blink of an eye, a major Taliban resurgence ensued.

After those initial victories, we might have gathered up our military assets and departed as victors. However, we did not. For one thing, Osama bin Laden was still alive. We now have another window of opportunity to leave. We should be more convinced than ever, particularly after the Quran burning episode accompanied by killings of innocent Americans, and the mass killings of innocent Afghan civilians.

Furthermore, the Taliban is an embedded political and cultural reality in Afghanistan that is generally devoid of institutional systems required for governing, and our future is not as bright in Afghanistan as our past achievements have been. Based on these perceptions, it is time for NATO forces to ramp down and return home. The marginal benefits of returning home now exceed those of remaining.

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  1. As former retired secretary of defense Robert Gates stated, that any President that Is advised to send ground troops into the middle East, Asia or Africa should have his head examined.President Obama did not send ground troops Into Libya as some U.S. Senators had suggested. U.S.Air power along with the help of Nato air power made this a easy victory. No boots on the ground should be the number one priorty for any sitting President when faced with possible enemies such as Iran.

  2. When Bush stood at Ground Zero and vowed to strike back, he was right on. We did what we had to do. Now ,lets bring them home.

  3. Enjoyed the letter.

    The question on everyone's mind is this: What are we doing over there? What is our goal?

    Speaking as a retired Veteran, I guarantee you that right now, if you were to ask any Private First Class in the U.S. Army who is stationed over that question, I can predict accurately his answer.

    He/She will tell you emphatically he is there mainly to watch his fanny perpendicular, and look out for his fellow troopers, all in order so that they can come home safe.

    Now I ask you this: Is that our goal over there? To put our precious lifeblood in harm's way ONLY?

    Answer is no. We need to get out. Transition out of the hellhole a bit faster. Our troops are precious. Afghanistan is nothing but a buzz saw now.

    I sound like a peacenik, but I'm not.

    I just don't see the clear cut goals over there anymore.

    From what I see, we did what we gotta do over there, and we can do no more. If we leave now, or leave a few years more down the road, there will STILL be civil war. They ain't gonna change.

    Time to move on. There is indeed a war against terror, but this is not a war where you fight for land. The terrorists infect territory and they try to use our abilities against us.

    We need to think like them. Identify the cancer, quick in, remove it as the situation deems it should go down, then quick out, look around for them elsewhere. Surgical and methodical. Use human intelligence, follow the money, trace cell phones, find patterns and routines. Then go get them. Hit hard and leave.

    It worked for getting rid of that slime bucket Bin Laden, it'll work to get rid of more of them. You can't beat all of them nor completely de-fang the whole network, but you can keep them on the run.

    That's called a win. Because in the long run, it will keep Americans safe here at home.

    I guess what I'm saying is the tactics must change. Not throw an army over there and dangle them in front, hope they bite. That's idiocy. That's playing their game. And we don't want that, they play our game. Sorry, it's not a game, it's deadly stuff, but you get what I mean.

  4. Nice post Colin.

  5. The initial attack? well done.

    Everything since? Badly done.

    Continuing and doubling down later by the Current Administration? REALLY bad idea.

    Get them home now.

    Nation building is a farce in a region where tribalism and Shia VS Sunni or Sunni VS Shia violence is a driving force of many basic cultural interactions.

    Iraq, our nation building exemplar, is Shia majority and drifting slowly into historical status as a proto-Iranian ally. Iraqi skies are supposedly hosting Iranian resupply flights already. The Iranians and Iraqi's dream of Empire with superhighways and massive rail links connecting Lebanon and Iran thru Syria and Iraq. A rebuilt Persian Shia Empire confronting Sunni Turkey's own desires of an Empire resurgent, how's that for some fun eh?

    India or Pakistan going into Afghanistan? Guaranteed failure with an Indian vs Pakistani war in the offing as a probablity.

    Afghanistan hasn't changed much since the British were kicked out and lost two entire brigades to Muhammad Akbar Khan's militia forces in 1842.

    If we had been willing to suffer and inflict massive casualties by employing the same rules of engagement we used in WW-II we might have stood a chance to inflict change in the region. Japan's militant culture changed after WW-II. Losing an entire generation of young men and entire cities in a span of only three years can do that to a culture. No chance of America doing that in today's world, thank goodness.

  6. A great letter by Bob Jack and good responses by thinking people. The Soviet Bloc was economically destroyed by staying in Afghanistan for ten years, and with us spending $2 billion a week, we are on the same path. You can't nation build a nation that doesn't want to be built. Include supporting one of the most corrupt governments in the middle east and allies that dislike us such as Pakistan, and we will be stuck there forever. It's time to bring our troops home and help them reconnect with society.

  7. I'm sure the resistance to leaving Afghanistan is that the power vacuum we create will be filled by the Taliban or some other fundamentalist Islamic movement. That will increase pressure on parts of Pakistan that are already radicalized. Nobody wants to be the one to order withdrawal and have a nuclear weapon from Pakistan turn up in the hands of terrorists six months later.

    With that being said, we still need to get out now. We will never be able stabilize Afghanistan. We'll have to deal with elements in Pakistan sooner or later. There's no point in wasting more blood and treasure forestalling the inevitable.

  8. It is long past time for us to get out of there!

    In more general terms, I think our entire approach to dealing with disputes in the Middle East has been wrong for some time now.

    I have no problem with going back to how we handled it when we were a young country. Go in, hit hard, and then leave.

    Why do we insist on trying to export our culture after we have accomplished the main goal? The people there respect strength. Just go in, do the job, get out, and let them deal with the consequences. Do this enough times and they will leave us alone, without the hard feelings created by trying to change their countries into a mirror image of us.

  9. 1. So there is no Al-Qaeda After Osama? Or has it metastasized, like cancer? Did any of you hear of the Coup by soldiers in Chad. Seems they were fed up with government bumbling in fighting Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. That branch is fighting across a number of countries in Sahel (the area south of the Sahara) and in Algeria and Somalia in Africa. Or Yemen: where an Al-Qaeda branch has been raising hell for some time. Or Iraq where the anti-Sunni bias of the Shiite government has led to a resurrection of Al-Qaeda. Or Pakistan, which is unstable AND has nuclear weapons.

    So now it is the "Conservatives" who will build on their precedent of declaring victory and running home. If y'all are going to cut and run, then just say it. But then I want to hear no more about liberals or democrats or Obama being apologetic, weak, or cowardly. Cutting and running might be fine or it might bring on more attacks just as Nixon's cutting and running, followed by Reagan's cutting an running, were evidence to Bin Laden that the U.S. could be attacked with impunity.

    2. When we leave, the Pashtos will take over and we will have another nation state (well, at least an internationally recognized entity) which will give aid and comfort to the next generation of slime buckets who call themselves Al-Qaeda. And, since that Pashto population would like to be joined by their fellow Pashto in Pakistan, they will cut Pashto territory from Pakistan, destabilizing Pakistan further, probably igniting a war between India and Pakistan. There are no good options here, but the least bad in the long run is staying in Afghanistan and trying to see it through and trying to help Pakistan heal itself (and it really chaps my hide to say those things).

  10. Brad--I hear you. Thanks for your comments.

  11. Chapline, If you are right then AlQueda already has been supplied with nukes -- and our troops in Afghanistan have been cut off from logistics deliveries most of which pass through Pakistan. No? Then the Paks a long term ally, are not the enemy -- yet -- despite our repeated and clumsy violations of their sovereignty. (Chapline, what would you do if foreign troops routinely crossed U.S. Borders "in hot pursuit" of their enemies, and sporadically bombed U.S. Territory and killed U.S. citizens as collateral damage?)

    The Paks consider their enemy to be India. They believe that an independent Afghanistan would be an ally of their enemy, India. The Paks see the recent (and remember, they are only recent) good relations between India and the U.S. as a threat to them. The Paks also have a problem. The border (drawn by Britain) between Pakistan and Afghanistan split the Pashtos between the two countries. The Paks, therefore see an Indian-aligned Afghanistan as a threat to them because a Pashto dominated government might try to split off the Pashto parts of Pakistan. And good (non-corrupt) government in Afghanistan would pose a greater threat in contrast to the corrupt governmnets of Pakistan.

    Last but not least, the cut and run conserves nothing. Just as the "Conservative" W turned a Surplus into perpetual Deficits, and "saved" money by moving troops out of the escape bath of Bin Ladin and focusing instead on Iraq, which led to the present mess, cutting and running would embolden both Iran and the metastatic Al-Qaedas and lead to danger to Americans abroad and here in the Homeland. Y'all may label yourselves "Conservative" but you conserve nothing.

  12. Over a Century ago, Afghan King Rahman Khan decided to prohibit railroads in Afghanistan. He did so to create isolationism, to prevent the country from being swallowed up by the British empire to the east and the Russian army to the north. By eliminating railroads, the easy paths of foreign Armies to the interior was eliminated and communication methods remained ancient.

    Afghanistan is locked into the dark ages and will never catch up to present as the present now evolves.

    After 10 years there is nothing to win. They didn't want the Russians and they don't want us. As the world's largest producer of opium, it excels only in drug production.

    They are birthing male Islamic extremists faster then they can be eliminated. Only the lack of food will make changes. They fight today because 'we are there'. Leaving time is long overdue.