Time to Get Out of Afghanistan?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    From Politico:

    George Will calls for pull-out


    George F. Will, the elite conservative commentator, is calling for U.S. ground troops to leave Afghanistan in his latest column.

    ?[F]orces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters,? Will writes.

    George and I are on the same page. Afghanistan is an unwinnable war with the forces we have available to fight it.

    Even if I'm wrong, it doesn't matter. The U.S. will pull out of Afghanistan before anyone finds out one way or the other. The question I'd ask is: why is a victory really necessary in Afghanistan? If we abandon Afghanistan to permanent poverty and political instability, is that much different from what it has with American boots on the ground there?

    Other questions: what should Obama do next? Do we maintain the status quo, escalate this war, or dramatically downscale our involvement a la George Will's argument?
  2. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    The Taliban will make a comeback and destabilize both Pakistan and India, which is not so good...
  3. Black-Tiger Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2008
    star 3
    Much better if they started using different tactics rather than the Vietnam meat grinder "tactics" that they seem to be using at the moment. Didn't work then, wont work now. The generals should use their brains for once rather than their biceps like a bunch of inept beach boys.
  4. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    There doesn't appear to be a good outcome for Afghanistan no matter what the U.S. does.
  5. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7

    From Washington Post yesterday, the view that we need to escalate the war:

    JOHN NAGL
    President of the Center for a New American Security

    America has vital national security interests in Afghanistan that make fighting there necessary:

    1) preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a sanctuary for terrorists
    2) ensuring that it does not become the catalyst for a broader regional security meltdown 3) serves as a base from which the United States attacks al-Qaeda forces inside Pakistan

    Key problem:

    U.S. efforts to secure Afghanistan on the cheap after 2001 led it to support local strongmen whose actions alienated the population and thereby enabled the Taliban to reestablish itself as an insurgent force.

    Solution: "a more comprehensive approach," ie all out war, or as my grandfather always said, "if you want to be a bear, be a grizzly."
  6. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    I once wrote then President George Dubya that the only person who ever won a war in Afghanistan was Alexander the Great, but it made no difference, Dubya still sent more troops.

    We need to have a military presence in that area. George Will's ideas seem sound.

    Keep up the pressure on the Taliban. Protect India and Pakistan.

    Are we still trying to find Osama bin Laden or has that pretty much fallen by the wayside?
  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Are we still trying to find Osama bin Laden or has that pretty much fallen by the wayside?

    Bin Laden will die of old age or one of those slip and fall accidents that claim so many senior lives.

    Also from the Washington Post article:

    ANDREW J. BACEVICH
    Professor of history and international relations at Boston University

    -Afghanistan, an impoverished, landlocked country produces nothing that Americans want or need (apart from illegal drugs)
    -fixing Afghanistan will require at least as many years as we have already spent there
    -we do not have adequate resources -- troops, dollars, will, and expertise -- to see the project through.
    -there are other, more important uses for those resources

    There's the rub. No one is going to invest in Afghanistan. If we stay there, it's not going to be about rebuilding the country, it's going to be about parking ourselves there so that the Taliban and Al Quaeda can't park themselves there with impunity. Is that a worthwhile objective?

    Afghanistan is the exact opposite of South Korea, where protecting its sovereignty for half a century has paid off handsomely by allowing one of the most productive industrialized nations on earth to flourish.
  8. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Anyone who says that we made progress in Iraq or Afghanistan are mistaken to say we would lose everything that we fought for. We are doomed to suffer the consequences no matter what we do. It was a mistake to engage in Afghanistan under the conditions we did and pulling out will be virtually the same as if we attempted to keep holding the region together. Only the difference is we would not invest so many of our resources and troops in the process.

    The best outcome we could have expected has long since been lost to us. We shouldn't try to correct a past mistake that can't be corrected.
  9. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    This is the operative shortcoming. It isn't that we don't have the firepower to keep the peace--it's that there is insufficient stomach in the American populace to support using it. Our collective mindset is, in my opinion, completely messed-up. The majority of media coverage focuses on our losses as opposed to our successes. This even percolates into the ranks to a degree: I had to interrupt a briefing on the situation in Afghanistan to emphasize that the primary mission of Marine Corps leadership is mission accomplishment which is then followed by troop welfare. While this is drilled into Marines, it is a concept that seems to be foreign in the civilian world.

    One of the great strategic advantages of an autocracy is that public opinion is a substantially less important resource. Western powers must carefully nurture support in order to remain in office to carry out strategic objectives. Whereas in an absolutist state, all you have to do is ensure that you put down any rebellions before they threaten your rear areas.
  10. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    It is way too early to be considering cutting and running from Afghanistan. We need to give Obama, Patreus and McChrystal time to implement the strategy they have. They will likely have a good 9 months to a year to show some progress before this becomes a political albatross.

  11. son_of_skywalker03 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 7, 2003
    star 4
    I'm not sure how you can say it's too early to consider pulling out of Afghanistan. We've been there for almost 8 years now.
  12. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Were we doing any good during those eight years? I'm not convinced that George Bush ever had any inkling of how to even handle a counter-insurgency. For all we know he probably pulled a Stalin and hid under his desk while the generals took fighting the war upon themselves.

    If we have a better strategy now for fixing the place, I say we should do it. Sure Afghanistan is messed up now, but South Korea and Taiwan were both dictatorships for much of the Cold War before they transitioned to being stable democracies.
  13. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    Yes, and how many of those 8 years was Afghanistan made a top priority? Its always been about Iraq, even within a year of invading Afghanistan. We have a President who wants to give the war his best shot, he should be given a chance before we talk about pulling the rug out from under his feet.
  14. son_of_skywalker03 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 7, 2003
    star 4
    But my question to you is, after all this time, when is it a "good time" to start, at least, considering leaving Afghanistan?
  15. kingthlayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2003
    star 4
    Well, there will be a few indicators. One is if this new surge-like strategy that being carried out by McChrystal and Patreus fails. I don't think it will, I think within five-seven months you will see the security situation in Afghanistan improve, much like it did in Iraq.

    The second is if Karzai's government fails. A troop surge is supposed to yield two connected results: to make the country safer, so that it can stabilize politically. However Karzai's "government" is corrupt, incompetent and the recent election looks like a joke. If we're fighting to create breathing room for a stable government to develop, and it either loses legitimacy or collapses, no amount of soldiers or time would fix Afghanistan. Then it wouldn't be a bad idea to think about getting out, or changing our strategy to involve less boots on the ground.


  16. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Again, from the Washington Post

    ERIN M. SIMPSON
    Former professor at the Marine Command and Staff College; contributor to the blog Abu Muqawama

    "Years of strategic neglect and severely limited resources have seriously undermined U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan,"

    but Pakistan is the key:

    "It is the future stability of this nuclear-armed neighbor that demands our presence and our perseverance in Afghanistan."

    In response to George Will:

    "This is not a war that can be meaningfully fought from stand-off range... Only people on the ground -- civilians and soldiers, Americans and Afghans -- can secure the population and deny our adversaries the sanctuaries they crave."

    A variation on the first theme, suggesting that we really do have to commit to at least another decade of war in Afghanistan if only to snuggle up to nuclear Pakistan.
  17. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    You can't really "keep up the pressure" on the Taliban if you're willing to let them have free reign over 90% of the country. Right now, we are killing large numbers of them, and engaging them in every area of the country. That's a lot more pressure than a few airstrikes a month and some border protection.

    If we have a large drawdown of forces in Iraq, as we are planning to do, than we will be in a good position to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely.

    There are more US soldiers in Afghanistan than ever before, but Iraq had more than twice as many soldiers for nearly six years. This has been the worst month in terms of US deaths, but it would have been a very good month in 2004 to 2007 Iraq. People said the Iraq War deployment schedule and casualties would break the Army and Marine Corp, and they were wrong. So the military should be able to handle the Afghanistan War for as long as it takes.

    Of course, the plan won't be to simply plow forwards. The leadership is looking to change strategies to find something that works. That's why Obama and Gates abruptly removed General McKiernan and replaced him with General McChrystal, a man with a very different background and focus.
  18. Black-Tiger Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2008
    star 3
    Can anyone tell me if NATO are using anything like MLRS, napalm, chemical weapons, fuel air bombs, flame throwers, or any other "dirty weapons" in Afghanistan yet? I?ve seen loads of times on the news, the Taliban riding around on little mopeds in the middle of nowhere. Seems like a good time for Special Forces undercover spotters to call in either an air strike or MLRS bombardment of the little s****. If it were me the countryside over there would be littered with SF scouts searching for them. Once they crawl out from under their rocks they?ve been hiding under I wouldn?t leave enough of them to fill a thimble.
  19. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    Flame throwers haven't been in the U.S. inventory for decades. I don't know of any field usage of FAEs, and I'd be horrified if we were using chemical weapons in a country in which our own forces were operating. Air strikes as a general rule have been rescinded save for in cases of dire need or emergency, and I don't know about the Rock Pile, but our SOP when gearing up for the Sand Box was no Mk. 19s in convoy due to concerns of collateral damage.
  20. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Chemical weapons are worthless against guerrillas, just so you know.
  21. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    But they worked so well against the VC.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Oh, wait...
    :p
  22. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    And Brett-you can still get a flamethrower. There's an NSN for them in our supply manual. :p
  23. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    It's not that simple. It's not simply a matter of time before progress is made... people don't like being occupied. The only way you can really expect to solve the issues in Afghanistan, then you had better be willing to commit mass murder. The enemies we face there aren't like troops gathering in the way we want them to; they attack in secret and remain hidden from our knowledge. That's why the war there has been so difficult for us.

    Quite simply; there really is no such victory that we can hope to accomplish in Afghanistan that seems any more feasible than Vietnam.
  24. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    WTF?! For reals? Well, I'm going to have to invest in new headware, because I now have to eat my own hat.

    I thought that we agreed to suspend the use of flamethrowers years and years ago.
  25. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Evidently not. :p

    But yeah, I've never seen anybody with one.

    Although the idea that on some Army post, probably in a neglected portion of the motor pool, there's a warehouse or two full of never-issued flamethrowers is quite amusing. :p