President Obama has announced a new timeline for the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan. The big news is that the US, which currently has 33,500 troops in the country, will leave 9,800 through the first months of 2015, but those troops won’t be around long. By the end of 2016 the only American military presence left will be a contingent guarding the US embassy in Kabul.
So what does this mean for the war in Afghanistan? The good news is that the Obama administration is sticking to its pledge of leaving Afghanistan, which it’s been carrying out by gradually withdrawing troops since 2012. The Americans’ war is ending.
The bad news is that the administration is tacitly confirming what everybody already knew: the war against the Taliban is not one that the US believes it can win, so we’re going to stop trying. That war, Afghanistan’s war, is going to continue.
This is not necessarily welcome news for Afghans. One of the main issues in this year’s Afghan presidential election was whether or not the country should sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, which allows the US to keep troops in the country. Hamid Karzai opposed the BSA; the two candidates who came out on top in the election both vocally supported it. Many Afghans I’ve met, whatever their politics, are outspoken about wanting the Americans to stay, not because they are blind to the invasion force’s mistakes or missteps but because they see it as the security bulwark against something much worse: the Taliban.
There’s more at the link if you are interested.
Some people who haven’t been paying attention for the past six years might think I am going to criticize this move because Obama is the one ordering it. Well, surprise! This is one of those rare occasions that I agree with Obama’s decision, but not necessarily his motivations.
It’s time to bring our troops home. Actually, it’s way past time. The war in Afghanistan has basically been a lost cause since Bush and Cheney decided to shift our focus over to Iraq.
Don’t get me wrong – the Taliban are evil scumbags. The whole fucking country is a shithole. But that’s the point – there is nothing in that whole godforsaken place that is worth one American life. It’s filled with people who hate us and despise our whole way of life. It’s primary cash crop is heroin.
Fuck ’em all.
It’s not our job to change those people. Most of them don’t want to change anyway, at least not bad enough to fight for it themselves. We gave them a chance to change but they prefer to do things their way. Namaste.
There is a reason that Afghanistan is called “Where empires go to die.” It has been conquered many times, but nobody has managed to hang on to it. They wore us down, just like they wore down the USSR, the British, and every army dating back to Alexander the Great. Sooner or later everybody says, “Fuck this place, let’s go home.”
Now it’s our turn.
Bring them home.
“When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.”
From “The Young British Soldier” by Rudyard Kipling