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09 September 2019

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ann

Years ago, there was a pipeline planned for Afghanistan. It was supposed to carry the oil out of the "stans" to the gulf for shipment. Do the oil companies ever reverse course? The map in the Balkans shows that Camp Bondsteel sits about 30 miles north of the only U.S. Corporate owned pipeline in the country.

asx

Thanks Col. Lang.

IMO Afghanistan cannot be seen in isolation without some soul searching into who we are and what we want to be going forward.

If we believe we are still the power above and beyond any other, and can project influence anywhere on the map, then we will not abandon Afghanistan. But numerous tea leaves indicate otherwise.

I posted this essay on OBOR on the open thread.
http://stories.cnas.org/the-return-of-marco-polos-world-and-the-u-s-military-response

Yes, this is from the NeoCons who have rebranded from PNAC to CNAS. But notable is the acknowledgement from even the diehard supporters of Iraq War 2 regarding our limitations to impose our will in landlocked Eurasia.

Also, our ingress into Afghanistan is very tenous and it will be the Chinese who will have access to that route predominantly as part of the OBOR. Then it will be up to them to provide for security in that neighborhood, and handle all associated burdens and costs. Good luck with that.

Our exit from Afghanistan has to be managed so that it does not become our Suez moment. Do we double down and fail here, or just read the chessboard and call it a draw? I'd rather see us withdraw and cause a vacuum in Afghanistan which others will be too eager to over reach and fill.

Our efforts in Eastern Syria/Kurdistan offer a parallel to Afghanistan. Another landlocked amorphous region with a dubious ally providing a base. Too many situations with low probabilities of favorable outcomes.


Chris Chuba

In all fairness Trump, is delegating this decision to his Generals. This did not look like his idea. This was true of BHO who got stampeded into a surge strategy. At the end of the day, the President is always responsible but it looks like there are members of the military who believe in COIN.

Who knows, maybe Trump did call in McMaster and Mattis and said, 'give me a plan to win Afghanistan'. In that case, it is on him.

Afghanistan is a never ending sinkhole. One of the trends I don't like is the pro-Pentagon spin that we constantly get from our MSM instead of journalism. This will set up overconfidence and failure.

The press release:
MOAB killed or scared off ISIS in Afghanistan and sent a message to all the other evildoers. The Pentagon refused to corroborate Kabul's claim that 90+ ISIS fighters were killed because we don't do body counts anymore (except when we do). I read an article on linked on Antiwar.com that the effectiveness was greatly overstated but the Stepford Wives on FOX/CNN will not bother following up on the story. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/05/us-military-afghanistan-bomb-moab

Our Pentagon says that the Russians are 'giving military aid to the Taliban'. No one in our MSM asks them what they mean, they just repeat the story incorrectly to make it sound even worse, just like the game of telephone. The Generals know and take advantage of this.

My point is that the lack of MSM accountability for our Pentagon is going to help push us into a ravine in Afghanistan.

Thomas

"How much progress have we actually made?"

Quite a bit for the US importer of Helmand's provincial produce. I am sure he has his agents lobbying hard for more involvement to protect this personal golden goose. Last thing he needs is for those backwards bearded boys taking their Quran seriously and using those captured armored bulldozers on the current crops.

turcopolier

ann

So Camp Bondsteel was placed where it is to protect some oil company's pipeline and we have intervened in Afghnaistan for economic reasons? Where did you get this stuff? Economic determinism run rampant. You and I have so little in common that I don't even want to correspond with you. pl

turcopolier

Thomas

So this produce importer has US policy in re Afghanistan by the balls so he can make a profit? You are as crazy as Ann. pl

turcopolier

james

So Afghanistan is the "center of the board?" Another nut heard from. pl

Thomas

"So this produce importer has US policy in re Afghanistan by the balls so he can make a profit."

No, I am speculating that who ever it is does have political influence and it helps reinforce those that want to be there for their ideological reasons.

I agree with you, it is time to close this operation.

chris

Thank you for the succint and brief precis of the Afghanistan "experience". I hope that it was not in vain, but I'm afraid that the current occupant of the White House is less than receptive of anything that is in conflict with his current (and fleeting?) emotional connection.

Jony Kanuck

Lets see if I remember Kipling:

"When you are wounded & left on Afganistan's plain
And the women come out to cut up what remains
Just roll on your rifle & blow out your brains
And go your god like a soldier".

Peter AU

I have read that Russia has contact with the Taliban and also on good terms with the government in Kabal. There is the possibility that Russian mediation could quickly wind down the war in Afghanistan, giving Russia more influence in the region. China also are looking at Afghanistan for its mineral deposits, and would help with mediation.
The US can never win in Afghanistan, but its presence there seems to be more to prevent Russia China gaining influence in the country.

TV

Trump is so enthralled by the military - all those shiny stars - that if the brass said the Sun came up in the West, Trump would say "that's FANTASTICALLY BEAUTIFUL."
This is not a good situation.

Robert C

Trump knows the American public. Once we pull out of Afghanistan, it doesn't matter who is President. Any terrorist attack coming from Afghanistan will be blamed on Obama.

Robert C.

kooshy

i bet we wouldn't see a major pipeline or road going through Afghanistan in our lifetime, colonel Lang is absolutely correct, unless the ancient warlord tribal mafia system of Afghanistan ( for that matter Kurdistan) changes no one ( no matter how much you bomb them or kill them) can ever govern Afghanistan as a country or a nation. For last 16 years Iran is been trying to build a railroad from Iranian border to city of Herat which supposedly is an Iranian friendly city in a Iranian dominated area of Afghanistan. if such a road or pipeline that goes through Afghanistan is ever built every inch of it will belong to a different "Khan" by the time you get the oil off of the other side you end up broke or dead.

Fredw

This is not a good situation, but in fact it is normal. Except for Eisenhower, every president in my lifetime has had to learn painfully not to trust what the generals say they can do. Trump may be especially susceptible, but they all fall into that trap.

Andy

Afghanistan is really a domestic political problem, which is why the national security establishment doesn't want to end it. They fear the political blowback for "losing" the war as well as the return of Jihadi safe-havens able to promote and conduct attacks against the west. It's hot-potato from one administration to the next, an exercise in kicking the can down the road. So much for Trump's transactional foreign policy - he seems poised to kick that can yet again.

Lars

There where plenty of warnings about the military action against Afghanistan when the last impulsive president was invading it. Then the effort was essentially abandoned, except for the troops that remained. Now we will see if excessive use of superlatives with change what will remain a wild goose chase. The geography and culture of the area (it is not really a country) has not changed much during modern history. In short, it was stupid going in and remains stupid to stay there. Even if Afghanistan collapses, it is a local problem. Russia failed there and the US probably already has too. If the Chinese want to try, let them.

kooshy

Colonel, IMO you penciled out what Afghanistan' complexities are perfectly, except that you forgot to include India in this, they are in this too, they are as scared of Afghanistan as they are of Pakistan.

ex-PFC Chuck

Robert C: "Any terrorist attack coming from Afghanistan will be blamed on Obama."

And/or Bush 43

Keith Harbaugh

Thanks, Colonel, for stating clearly and explicitly (most of)
the relevant facts about the U.S. involvement with Afghanistan.
FWIW, I agree fully with your last paragraph.

But I think we need to recognize and explicitly rebut
the counter-argument, for continued U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
The main argument for that, I believe, is stated in
“What will Trump do about Afghanistan?
There’s a good model to follow.”

by Michael Gerson (WaPo Op-Ed columnist), 2017-05-04
Gerson argues:

[George W. Bush] ran against Clintonian nation-building
in his 2000 campaign.
Yet in his second inaugural address, in 2005,
Bush located American success in the success and freedom of others.

As a speechwriter I was along for the ride on this learning curve,
which bent dramatically on Sept. 11, 2001.
Because Afghanistan, of all places, had been forgotten.
In the context of the full article, he seems to be arguing:
“If we don’t stay in Afghanistan, another 9/11-type attack is inevitable.”

I think a good start at countering that argument
is to look realistically at what motivates such attacks.
And I think the very best and most accurate explanation of
the motivations for such attacks
was given by Arnold J. Toynbee in the late 1930s,
in paragraph 18.5.20 of his A Study of History.
http://kwharbaugh.blogspot.com/2005/03/study-of-history.html#sh-18.5.20
(See the earlier parts of his section 18.5 for an explicit discussion of
none other than Afghanistan!)

Peter AU

The Soviet Union failed in Afghanistan. Putins Russia is a very different entity.

Pundita

Before we can talk them out of Afghanistan, first we have to talk them out of war with Russia and Iran. Have a nice day.

steve

I can't tell if this is all driven by Trump or by his advisers. He did publicly say that he knows more about the military than anyone and he knows more than them on ISIS in particular. There was always the hope that this was just campaign hyperbole, but maybe he really believes what he says. (As a practical matter, whenever we leave, shortly thereafter Afghanistan falls apart even worse than it is now. Trump doesn't want to get blamed like Obama did for Iraq.)

"There's nobody bigger or better at the military than I am." — June 2015 Fox News interview

""I know more about ISIS [the Islamic State militant group] than the generals do. Believe me." — November 2015"

Steve

mauisurfer

You and Ron Paul agree:
Near the tenth anniversary of the US war on Afghanistan – seven years ago – I went to the Floor of Congress to point out that the war makes no sense. The original authorization had little to do with eliminating the Taliban. It was a resolution to retaliate against those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. From what we know now, the government of Saudi Arabia had far more to do with the financing and planning of 9/11 than did the Taliban. But we’re still pumping money into that lost cause. We are still killing Afghanis and in so doing creating the next generation of terrorists.
The war against ISIS will not end with its defeat in Mosul and Raqqa. We will not pack up and go home. Instead, the Pentagon and State Department have both said that US troops would remain in Iraq after ISIS is defeated. The continued presence of US troops in Iraq will provide all the recruiting needed for more ISIS or ISIS-like resistance groups to arise, which will in turn lead to a permanent US occupation of Iraq. The US “experts” have completely misdiagnosed the problem so it no surprise that their solutions will not work. They have claimed that al-Qaeda and ISIS arose in Iraq because we left, when actually they arose because we invaded in the first place.

Matt

This article by William R. Polk from 2009 was very informative about the wasteland of Afghanistan. President Obama chose to go with the "Surge" that the Generals were advocating.

https://www.thenation.com/article/open-letter-president-obama/

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