As the troops from President Obama’s military surge in Afghanistan now leave the war-torn country, a transition to “Afghan security” is supposed to be taking place, but the war is increasingly seen as a failure.
“A decisive end seems nowhere in sight,” reports The Associated Press, noting the enduring Taliban insurgency, the failure of a negotiated settlement, the weakness of the US-backed Kabul government, and Washington’s plans to keep tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan well beyond the much-cited “withdrawal date” of 2014.
“We are probably headed for stalemate in 2014,” says Stephen Biddle, a George Washington University professor who has advised US commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq. Biddle warns that the US will probably be pumping billions of dollars a year into Afghanistan for decades to come in an attempt to prevent collapse and civil war.
US and Afghan negotiators in Kabul have been meeting to hammer out a formal security agreement that will govern the presence of US troops past 2014, perhaps until 2024.
The complete and utter failure of the US and its NATO allies to get anything constructive done in Afghanistan for the past 11 years should be testament enough that another 11 years won’t do any good either.
The stated mission of the US in the war in Afghanistan has been to eliminate the Taliban and al-Qaeda and prevent their return by building up a stable Afghan government and independent security forces. Every one of these goals have been objective failures, and experts and commentators across the political spectrum acknowledge this.
The fact that the insurgency in Afghanistan is as strong as ever, even after 11 years of facing off against the world’s most advanced military, is an indication that it will remain alive and well so long as there are any occupation forces on the ground and so long as the Kabul government is propped up by hostile foreign governments. Staying in Afghanistan beyond 2014 – indeed, beyond tomorrow – makes no strategic, or moral sense.