The Afghanistan War: Ten Years Later and Counting
Afghanistan Study Group Blogger
“Much of the goodwill the U.S. built up by liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban’s rule has been dissipated by mistakes made after the fighting died down.” - October 9, 2002
“Violence is still common – a vice-president was assassinated in July, another minister was killed in February and President Hamid Karzai escaped an attempt on his life last month – and though there is the beginnings of a government army, warlords remain powerful.” – October 7, 2002
“Afghanistan continues to stumble along, barely one level above that of a failed state.” - October 5, 2004
“Soldiers on the ground are eagerly looking forward to Afghanistan’s upcoming winter when, because of the harsh conditions, there’s normally been a break in the violence. In Afghanistan, unfortunately, there is always next spring.” – September 21, 2006
We will read many stories similar to these today, the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. These particular quotes, however, are not from October 7, 2011. They are from earlier anniversaries: 2002, 2004, and 2006. Same story, different years.
This lack of progress in everything from establishing peace and security to working with Pakistan is in fact responsible for the one thing that has definitely changed: support for a drawdown is at record lows. Nearly two-thirds of Americans want troop levels decreased. And only one in three veterans think the wars were worth fighting.
The increasing support for a drawdown has been attributed to isolationism, lack of patriotism, and just plain pessimism. Actually, it’s none of the above. The real reasons behind calls for a drawdown are simple: we haven’t progressed in ten years, and there is still no end in sight.
A Pakitstani reporter recently said what was on everyone’s mind when he put this question to former JCS chief ADM Mike Mullen:
“I believe that we can stay in Afghanistan for a hundred years, and we are not going to resolve this issue. So when you look at American mothers who lose their sons, can you tell them honestly that it’s worth to give up blood in Afghanistan, the country that has become battleground between India and Pakistan?”
Insanity, after all, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. After ten years of doing the same thing, it’s time for a new approach to Afghanistan.