(In light of yesterday's bombing in Kabul …)
We have been in Afghanistan for how long? 16 years? It is our longest war. How much progress have we actually made?
1. The government that we have tried so long to nurture controls a shrinking percentage of both territory and population.
2. How much money have we poured into the pockets of crooks of all nationalities? In spite of that the country is severely lacking in physical, social, legal, and business infrastructure.
3. The country's armed forces have been expanded under NATO tutelage to such a size that the small GDP will never be able to pay for them on its own. In spite of that they are unable even to defend their own installations.
4. The country is still racked by tribal, ethnic and jihadi wars. It has always been thus with the exception of a golden age when the last Afghan king ruled in the 50s and 60s. How did he do that? He did it by careful inter-ethnic diplomacy and a minimum effort to "unify" his realm.
5. Attacks on NATO personnel by Afghan soldiers and police continue.
6. The capital, Kabul, is not secured and is regularly attacked.
7. The much vaunted COIN doctrine has failed there as it has failed in so many places in the world.
In spite of this the generals and the COIN nuts persist in trying to reverse Obama's policy of withdrawal from the "country" (a geographical expression really). President Trump, who knows nothing of things military or geo-political is about to begin the process of re-introducing US combat and training forces into this blank space on the map, a space filled with hostile tribesmen and religious fanatics. This blank space was given the dubious status of a state in the international system of states because the Russians and the British wanted to establish a buffer entity between the Tsar's empire and the Raj.
President Trump should be told that there is nothing there of real importance to the US, nothing worth more vast quantities of our money and more rivers of our blood. Let the Afghans, Chinese, Pakistanis, Iranians and Russians deal with the chaos. pl