The Trump admin is about to cut and run from Afghanistan. Worse, it is the right move. We are tired of Afghanistan, and it is not (never was) a strategic threat to the United States.
Stop right there — is that the right policy for the United States?
There are some who say it is given the current world situation and the lack of an American strategic interest in Afghanistan. Your Big Red Car agrees.
Some background as to how we were seduced into America’s longest war in its history.
1. President Bush accused Osama bin Laden of masterminding the 9-11 attack (11 September 2001) on the World Trade Center twin towers.
2. Osama bin Laden was then hiding in Afghanistan and the US had been hunting him since 1998. The Clinton admin missed a great opportunity to take him out much earlier in the Sudan.
3. President Bush demanded the rulers of Afghanistan turn over OBL to the United States to allow the US to try him for the crime of 9-11.
4. The Taliban demanded proof that OBL had been the mastermind, which the US refused to supply suggesting that the Taliban were just blowing smoke and intended to shelter OBL all along.
5. The Taliban were giving aid and succor to Al Qaeda by allowing them to base their terror training camps within Afghanistan. This was the intellectual underpinning for the USA going to war in Afghanistan — harboring OBL and the Al Qaeda training camps.
Sound like a strategic threat to the USA?
6. On 7 October 2001, the US with the support of the Brits, launched Operating Enduring Freedom to hunt down Osama bin Laden and to deny Al Qaeda a safe harbor in Afghanistan.
7. The Taliban, the then-current rulers of A’stan, had been fighting a coalition of war lords called the Northern Alliance since 1996 in a classic civil war.
The US/Brits threw support behind the Northern Alliance and by December 2001, the Taliban was defeated.
This picture shows what the Northern Alliance and the Taliban look like when they go out to fight. They are very light infantry, no more.
The US and the Brits engaged in a superb example of coalition building whereby the US/Brits provided special forces to provide leadership, tactics, fire coordination, artillery, and air power to support Northern Alliance rifles.
The US/Brits directly and through the Northern Alliance eliminated as many as 45,000 Taliban troops through months of nightly ambushes.
8. The USA called a conference in Bonn to sort out who was going to lead A’stan. At the Bonn Conference, a new interim Afghan government was stood up under the leadership of Hamid Karzai.
9. To assist the new Afghan government, the US, the Brits, the United Nations invented something called the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) under which as many as 43 different nations contributed troops.
Some substantial amount of American troops operated separately and were never under ISAF command, thereby violating the concept of “unity of command.”
10. The interim government conducted elections and — hold onto your hat — Hamid Karzai was “popularly elected” to head the new Afghan state to be named: the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Here is President Geo W Bush chatting Karzai up in his coat worn like a cape.
The United States stood up an Islamic republic in Afghanistan. Think about that for a second.
11. In 2003, Mullah Omar and his Taliban — in concert with the Haqqani Network, the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin and some other shitheads — launched a fierce insurgency that escalated as they begin to control significant portions of the country.
There will never be more than 65,000 shitheads on the other side. They wintered over in Pakistan, who pretended they are on our side.
The US provided billions of dollars of military and foreign aid to a country that harbored our enemies until President Trump cut them off.
12. By 2006, the Taliban and Mullah Omar were a major league pain in the ass and ISAF added troops until the violence is nationwide during the period 2007-2009.
13. By 2009, ISAF and the United States had more than 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, et al. Of these troops, 100,000 were American.
The good guys had 140,000 troops plus the Afghan Army v the 65,000 shitheads. We had modern weapons, unlimited air power, artillery, and intel/tech. The shitheads had rifles, mortars, and bomb vests. Remember this.
14. On 1 May 2011, US Navy SEALs in a daring raid kill Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan. The US does not ask for permission as they don’t trust the Pakistanis. The Pakistanis pretend they didn’t know that a 6’5″ Arab terrorist was hiding in their midst.
15. In 2012, NATO and others decide they’ve had a belly full of Afghanistan and plotted how they could pull out, leaving the Americans holding the bag.
16. In October 2014, the Brits handed over Helmand Province to Afghan forces and go home. Bad deal for Helmand Province which became the target of Taliban violence.
17. On 28 December 2014, NATO pulled the plug on ISAF combat operations. NATO then created a bullshit operation called Operation Resolute Support — meaning the Afghan government was on its own, but with NATO “support” short of combat troops.
This is like getting a birthday card from Grandma with a $10 bill in it. It is a lovely gesture, but you won’t be able to afford Harvard on it.
18. In December 2014, the Obama admin announced they intended to pull out without either victory in sight or a plan to stand up an Afghan fighting force able to safeguard the country against a Taliban that had begun to smell victory.
It reminds the casual observer of the end of the Vietnam War. How did that turn out?
19. Newly elected President Trump inherited this jug fuck in January 2017 with the Taliban kicking the snot out of the Afghans and 9,000 American troops in country. Of course, the Obama admin didn’t actually have a plan to withdraw.
20. President Trump increased troop levels by more than 50% and simultaneously begins direct negotiations with the Taliban.
This, dear reader, is where we are today. We are negotiating with the Taliban to go home.
Negotiations with the Taliban, Big Red Car?
Yes, dear reader, the most powerful military in the world is negotiating the fate of Afghanistan with a military force that has never exceeded 65,000 troops.
Today, we are finalizing a deal that will look like this:
1. The negotiations are between the USA and the Taliban. The Afghan government is not involved. Imagine that.
We expect to hand off the agreement and hope that the Afghan government and the Taliban play nice together. This is madness.
2. The US will, within 135 days after signing the agreement, withdraw 5,400 of its remaining troops and close five bases. All troops will be withdrawn within 18 months.
There is no provision made for a US presence in the eventuality the Taliban does not adhere to the deal.
3. What is conspicuously missing is any mention of a cease fire. In 2019, the Taliban has killed more than 4,000 civilians and has been conducting vigorous combat operations while the US – Taliban negotiations are underway.
The Taliban is currently attempting to capture three provincial capitals and is likely to be successful. The Afghan Army, our creation, is feckless and unreliable.
4. The Taliban has promised to drive ISIS/ISIL and Al Qaeda out of the country after the US leaves. Haha, did you read that — “after the US leaves”?
They were allies before the war. They are currently allies. They will continue to be allies after the US leaves.
WTF, Big Red Car?
Here are some thinking points:
1. The Taliban will never adhere to any part of this agreement. Within 24 hours of US troops leaving, the Taliban will launch a civil war and conquer Kabul. Count on it.
2. Afghanistan, the 172nd out of 180 most corrupt nations on the planet and a hopeless narco-terror state, will cease to exist under the weight of the victorious Taliban, thereby returning Afghanistan to the cesspool it was when we arrived in 2001, just 18 years ago.
3. The US’ longest war in its history will be over, but there will be no victory, no parades, but a harsh reminder why Afghanistan is called: “The Graveyard of Empires.”
4. President Trump will have kept another of his campaign promises. He promised to get us out of Afghanistan.
Here are some things I am really pissed off about:
1. All those brilliant American Generals could not figure out how to beat 65,000 light infantry Taliban with more than 140,000 troops at their disposal. Talking to you, Generals Mattis, Petreaus, and all the rest.
The Army has one job — to win our wars. You failed to do that, and, yet, you are all writing books and strutting around. Shame on you. You failed.
2. We were stupid to invade Afghanistan in the beginning. We should have killed Osama bin Laden, destroyed the Al Qaeda training camps, and stayed the Hell out of the Graveyard of Empires. We had no strategic interest, though we had a tactical interest.
3. As much as I abhor leaving in this fashion, it is the right thing to do, but we should have a national post-mortem and we should call the generals to account for why we couldn’t beat a rag tag bunch of shitheads with rifles when we are the most powerful military on the planet.