Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Is America's Longest War Really Over?

A ceremony in a secret location (secret due to fears of attack) has been held to declare an end to America's longest war, in Afghanistan. Well, really it was a declaration from NATO. Over 10,000 American troops remain until the end of 2016.

Despite the cartoon above in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, this opera is sadly far from over. The "fat lady" isn't onstage yet, much less singing a finale.

"If only it were possible to end a war unilaterally. But it's not. As the military likes to say, the enemy gets a vote. And there is no sign that the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaeda and other militant Islamist groups have any intention of ending their armed struggle to seize power in Kabul. Indeed, 2014 was the deadliest year of the war so far, with nearly 10,000 civilian casualties and some 5,000 deaths among the Afghan security forces — far more than the 2,224 Americans killed in Afghanistan in more than 13 years of combat since October 2001." (via)

Still, I'm all for NATO and the US getting out sooner rather than later. The future depends of so much on Afghanistan and what they want ... determining what they want and need is impossible to determine after their 3 decades of constant warfare. Perhaps reducing combat is truly the first step. But no fat ladies are singing a finale. 

Sadly, short-sighted and angry folks waging a political battle in Washington and in Kabul don't want this show to ever end.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:53 AM

    James Fallows writes a good piece in the Atlantic in response the the debacles of Iraq and Afgan and the following is a response to the article

    """""""""""By way of introduction I am a retired Naval Officer having served [approximately 30 years] in the U.S. Navy and retiring as a Captain. I was a Naval Flight Officer gaining [many thousands of hours of flight experience] in a variety of aircrafts.

    The Navy was everything I had hoped it would be in that I joined it to see the world and fly. I got my wish. To say I joined out patriotic fervor was an overstatement—I really didn't. I just wanted to fly and travel and I knew it would give me those opportunities.

    That said I am troubled by what I see as the colossal waste of the last 15 years. I am not talking about wasting money—although certainly the country has done that. I am talking about the wasted strategic direction of the country:

    First, in its misreading of how to react to 9/11, then in the folly of the invasion of Iraq, which I regard as the biggest foreign policy mistake of the last 30 years. Bye the bye, I am no Johnny-come-lately on being against Iraq, I've been opposed to it since I was first shown the logistics plans for the operation over 11 years ago. It created the current train wreck of long deployments that sailors have to suffer through. We have expended huge efforts on behalf of ungrateful populations overseas, but we do nothing to better ourselves at home. What was the point of serving if it was not to come back to a better country at home?

    I agree with your other readers' comments about the disconnect between what military personnel say they believe and what they really need to be advocating. I see it every day at work. People hold their civilian counterparts (not their civilian co-workers, but rather what they see as the unknown "moochers" they have been told exist) in contempt and that's not good.

    Most military officers rail conservative talking points about how they hate Obamacare, but have no idea at all how the program really works. But if you try to change military healthcare (which is really 'socialized medicine') watch what happens. If you ever want to see an example of how Fox News shapes opinions for the worse, stick around my office for a while.

    If you want proof this is true, go to any of the major military blogs and read their comment sections. Watch how they rise up and viciously attack anyone who opposes the "conventional wisdom". (For example, it is accepted as an article of faith among many that "Obama lost Afghanistan" with his West Point speech. This even though he agreed to his commander's advice about surging more troops.)

    One area you did not touch on well, in my opinion, was the social changes that have taken place in the military and how it has been forced to gloss over the costs involved. Yes these changes may have been necessary, but don't kid yourself—mixed gender units are harder to run and a lot of people deeply resent the continued emphasis on diversity. They perceive "preferred customers" being created and that's a problem. It contributes to what you write about in that the public face the military presents is at odds with what is really happening.

    This is a complex story and it needs to be told. Andrew Bacevich is right when he says our lack of a program of national service is creating a military that is insulated from the society it serves...

    You raised some good points—but I fear like others they won't be discussed."""""