Afghanistan: What Have We Accomplished?

An Inkwell Institute paper

Subject:  Foreign Policy

Just recently Sen. McCain has called for more troops for deployment to Afghanistan–of all the people in the Congress, I do not understand McCain position.  Did he not learn anything from his deployment to Vietnam?  Does he not recall that an increase in troop strength came with an increase of American lives?  Has he not seen the polls that show a gradual but steady decline in the people who support the war in Afghanistan?

Eight years and counting and what has the US really accomplished in Afghanistan?  A question that needs to be asked and answered if the US is to succeed.  But first, What is the US mission in Afghanistan?

Before we go there we must understand the history of Afghanistan.  Thanks to for the history lesson.

The land that is now Afghanistan has a long history of domination by foreign conquerors and strife among internally warring factions. At the gateway between Asia and Europe, this land was conquered by Darius I of Babylonia circa 500 B.C., and Alexander the Great of Macedonia in 329 B.C., among others. Mahmud of Ghazni, an 11th century conqueror who created an empire from Iran to India, is considered the greatest of Afghanistan’s conquerors.
Genghis Khan took over the territory in the 13th century, but it wasn’t until the 1700s that the area was united as a single country. By 1870, after the area had been invaded by various Arab conquerors, Islam had taken root. During the 19th century, Britain, looking to protect its Indian empire from Russia, attempted to annex Afghanistan, resulting in a series of British-Afghan Wars (1838-42, 1878-80, 1919-21).

And then Hell came to the country.

Khan is killed in a communist coup. Nur Mohammad Taraki, one of the founding members of the Afghan Communist Party, takes control of the country as president, and Babrak Karmal is named deputy prime minister. They proclaim independence from Soviet influence, and declare their policies to be based on Islamic principles, Afghan nationalism and socioeconomic justice. Taraki signs a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union. But a rivalry between Taraki and Hafizullah Amin, another influential communist leader, leads to fighting between the two sides.
At the same time, conservative Islamic and ethnic leaders who objected to social changes introduced by Khan begin an armed revolt in the countryside. In June, the guerrilla movement Mujahadeen is created to battle the Soviet-backed government.
American Ambassador Adolph Dubs is killed. The United States cuts off assistance to Afghanistan. A power struggle between Taraki and Deputy Prime Minister Hafizullah Amin begins. Taraki is killed on Sept. 14 in a confrontation with Amin supporters.
The USSR invades Afghanistan on Dec. 24 to bolster the faltering communist regime. On Dec. 27, Amin and many of his followers are executed. Deputy Prime Minister Babrak Karmal becomes prime minister. Widespread opposition to Karmal and the Soviets spawns violent public demonstrations.By early 1980, the Mujahadeen rebels have united against Soviet invaders and the USSR-backed Afghan Army.

The U.S., Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Soviet Union sign peace accords in Geneva guaranteeing Afghan independence and the withdrawal of 100,000 Soviet troops. Following Soviet withdrawal, the Mujahadeen continue their resistance against the Soviet-backed regime of communist president Dr. Mohammad Najibullah, who had been elected president of the puppet Soviet state in 1986. Afghan guerrillas name Sibhatullah Mojadidi as head of their exiled government.

Then after the withdrawal of the Soviets, the Taleban took control and began enforcing rigid fundamentalism on the population.  9/11 happened and after a short while the US and its allies invaded and removed the Taleban from power and began a search for the now infamous Osama.  He escaped capture and is still at large.

The US original task was to eliminate al Qaeda and in particular Osama, that has bee a bust…..the US slowed them down but they are just across the border gaining strength and allies as I write.  That task was a bust and now it has been retasked to providing security to the population from the terrorism of the Taleban and its allies.  That task is not going so well for there is daily suicide attacks killing Afghans and others.

The US task whatever it is deemed to be is NOT working well at all.  Why do we say such?  Easy answer…..recently elections have been deemed fraudulent…..the killing drones are killing as many civilians as bad guys……the drug trade still flows openly….Taleban is still a viable force….al Qaeda is still a viable force…..and finally as best we can tell Osama and his cronies are still breathing.

Once you take history and the tasks into consideration…then NOTHING is working well….and it seems to be all a waste of money and manpower and lives.


8 thoughts on “Afghanistan: What Have We Accomplished?

  1. A very well researched and explained history lesson. However, it doesn’t take ONE simple principle into account: The main principle of terrorism clearly stated and explained by Mao Tse Tung in China fifty or more years ago and against which all “moderate” cultures will always lose unless they are strong and utterly resolute. The principle that the regular moderate (particularly democratic) is always hog-tied by the acceptance (or otherwise) of the costs involved – both human and financial – and that the terrorist has the whip hand because he (most of them are usually male) is always prepared to publically be a much bigger asshole than the enemy. That creates the “terror” which is what terrorism is all about.

    Whilst most Afghans may not trust the West (and why would they in view of the history), few of them want to live in the recently current culture and specifically under the Taliban. The women certainly mostly don’t, but they have been brain-washed into believing that it is the way it must be and they are in any event afraid (as are many of the men as well) that we will not last there and do not have the “stomach” for the long and extremely drawn out fight against the Taliban. If we lose the will to stay and fight, they will be even worse off when the previous bastards return (hard to imagine but the Taliban would undoubtedly find a way to be even more oppressive).

    Nothing will really change for those people until they finally believe that we will stay and fight the assholes WHATEVER it takes and costs. Unless the US and the UK, above all, have more guts than they have both shown in the past, then Afghanistan is doomed to live under the Taliban for a very long time.

    I do truly believe in “live and let live”, but for that to work FUNDAMENTALISM of any and all types MUST be opposed throughout the world for it always believes UTTERLY that it is RIGHT without question or argument and, more frighteningly, it is ALWAYS expansionist with an overwhelming desire to dominate US ALL!

    1. Morning Quin….excellent comment……I agree with you on most points…but the Taliban is national thing….if the Afghan people turn the other cheek then their rabid fundamentalism will definitely return…the problem I see is that it is a tribal society and that makes it difficult for Americans to deal with… is more family, clan and tribe over nation almost always…the West does not seem to understand that type of thinking.

      Another prob, IMO, is that any conflict in Afghanistan has to be a ground operation for a final and absolute victory and the West cannot handle it….the USSR proved that technology cannot necessarily win a war alone.

      I do agree that the Taleban should be totally eliminated because they will NO doubt allow the return of Osama and the boys and that is totally unacceptable. Afghanistan is a conundrum and it has been for about a 1000 years.

      1. Oh I do agree with all that. The fact is though that we have at some point to stand up against this threat, because it’s real, constant and we can only hope to solve it with the help (which means the trust) of a large majority of the Afghan people. If we walk away and let them down this time, we’ve had it everywhere in the world, not just there.

        I do also agree entirely, if the problem WAS just a local thing, then that’s their business not ours and we should keep our goddam noses out, whether we like their ways or not. But it’s NOT. The fundamentalists want the whole damned world to be under THEIR thumb and to live their way. That’s ansolutely clear to me just from their rhetoric and their huge opium production business is very definitely aimed at undermining our cultures and capitalism in general.

        I wish it were not so, but caging these lunatics, or otherwise eliminating them, is the only choice open to the West. Of course, we do have a few home grown ones too and they’re not all supporters of Osama, or the Taliban either, but they’re potentially just as dangerous.

      2. AF thanx for the return….you are correct and I have NO answer for you….and then there is Pakistan and the nukes they have…yet another level of danger…..even though I do not have an answer someone has got to find a new direction that will benefit Afghans, Pakistanis, and the world….by making it safer.

      3. Hey! AF just stole my thunder and said almost exactly what I was going to say. Who is this guy anyway? Haha 🙂

      4. There IS an answer, but whether we can, or are even qualified to, apply it is another matter. Education is always the key in the long term, not least because it teaches people to think for themselves.

        The trouble with that is that all the tossers currently in power don’t want anyone to think for themselves (and that INCLUDES the West) because we are likely to figure out that they are pretty much ALL frauds.

        In the meantime, I think we have to stay with it militarily to protect as best we can those that want to learn and go forward and to do it for as long as it takes and whatever the cost. We simply HAVE to gain the trust of people like the Afghans and PARTICULARLY the women.

        We might see it as a bit sexist to say so in the WEST, but it’s a FACT that if you educate a man, you educate him, but if you educate a woman then you educate a whole family and if you educate enough women, you will educate a whole generation.

        As always and everywhere, the women will be the key.

      5. I agree that the education of women is one of the answers, an important one. Militarily we do not have enough troops to protect the country and if we put too many there we chance that we will look and be accused of imperialism and such.

        Women are truly the answer, and the Karzai government does not seem to have the chops to do the education thing, with the exception of Kabul the country still tries to exclude women. There are a number of education projects going on in the country but they are fighting a really steep uphill battle.

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