Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is continuing his farewell media blitz, attempting to tamp down the growing pressure on the Obama administration to end the war in Afghanistan. On Thursday, Gates told the media that a “rush to the exits” would jeopardize what he is referring to as “progress.”
Only to people who are clinging to this failed military strategy would ending the longest war in American history be considered a “rush to the exits.” After nearly ten years, $400 billion spent, thousands of American and Afghan lives lost, can we really afford to slow walk this? The (already dubious) national security rationale for staying in Afghanistan was dealt a final blow by the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The claims of progress, when casualties on both sides, IED attacks, and multiple amputations are on the rise, don’t hold up to scrutiny.
On Time magazine’s Battleland blog, an active duty colonel in Afghanistan rips apart the Pentagon’s claims of progress and their defenders in the media [emphasis mine]:
The mendacity is getting so egregious that I am fast losing the ability to remain quiet; these yarns of “significant progress” are being covered up by the blood and limbs of hundreds – HUNDREDS – of American uniformed service members each and every month, and you know that the rest of this summer is going to see the peak of that bloodshed.
The article by Michael O’Hanlon last week (i.e. Success worth paying for in Afghanistan) and the one in today’s WSJ by Kagan and Kagan (i.e., We Have the Momentum in Afghanistan) made me sick to my stomach – especially the latter. Have you seen it yet? It is the most breathless piece of yellow journalism I’ve seen in the entire OIF-OEF generation.
According to the Kagans, “If Mr. Obama announces the withdrawal of all surge forces from Afghanistan in 2012, the war will likely be lost. Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other global terrorist groups will almost certainly re-establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan. The Afghan state would likely collapse and the country would descend into ethnic civil war. The outcome of this withdrawal policy would be far worse than Nixon’s decision to accept defeat in Vietnam, for it would directly increase the threat to the American homeland. Apparently they forgot, “there’s a commie behind every bush,” “the Russians are coming!” and “if Vietnam falls, all of Asia falls to the Communists!” That logic was absurd in the 1960/70s, and its even more laughable today – or it would be laughable if it didn’t cost so damn many American lives to prop up the fantasy.
These people are actually arguing for increased involvement. In fact, they are saying that we should expect high casualties this summer (after which – without explanation – we’ll have beaten the TB in the south), then we’ll move the troops up to RC-East where there’s still a lot of fighting – and as a result, we’ll have another spike in the ‘fighting season’ of 2013, after which (according to the neat schedule the Kagans map out) we’ll be ready to hand over control of the country to GoIRA and the ANSF on schedule in 2014.
It’s sheer madness, and so far as I can tell, in the mainstream media and reputable publications, it is going almost entirely without challenge.
Let’s hope the Obama administration is strengthened by the support from Congress and the public and will refuse the paltry withdrawal proposed by Gates and others. Ending this pointless war wouldn’t be rushing; the end can’t come soon enough.