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It is now official: every single justification behind the Afghanistan War and its seeming never ending occupation have been disavowed - by the very politicos that have been not only responsible for the lauching and conduct of this war, but likewise by those who have been staunchly supporting this conflict.

In other words: the Afghanistan war was absolutely for nothing.

Let us re-visit the main justifications/objectives for the Afghanistan war, which began in October 2001:

  1. Defeat the Taliban;
  1. Defeat al-Qaeda;
  1. Bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan.

Over the span of seven years since this war began, major combat operations have kept on going and going in Afghanistan - despite the proclamation in May 2002 that major combat operations were over and in the face of repeated claims that this war has been a big success.

Defeat the Taliban? Whether fueled by drug trade or corrupted misappropriations of U.S.A. funds to Pakistan (!), the Taliban insurgency shows no signs of wavering - not only in the South of Afghanistan where it has been most active but slowly spreading to the North of the country as well - all the while profiting from Pakistan's ineptitude (or incompetence, or fear?) to deal with them on their own side of the border. Just recently, Pakistan released a senior Taliban leader on his pledge to cease attacks in Pakistan - proving once again that Pakistan looks out for itself first and foremost, despite being a much touted "ally against terrorism". In the meantime, there have been repeated calls to negociate with the Taliban, going as far as to promise them a significant presence in the Afghanistan government - with the tacit approval of the U.S.A., Canada (for which the Afghanistan war has pretty much become its war) and other N.A.T.O. allies. Why, even after a much publicized recent attack by the Taliban on Afghani officials and foreign dignitaries (of which the Afghani government had been warned about), Afghani President Hamid Karzai went as far as to demand that N.A.T.O. "leave the Taliban alone" in order to stop "undermining negociations" with them! And guess what? N.A.T.O. forces are apparently following suit by putting the word out to Taliban fighters that they want to talk!

"If we don't succeed in Afghanistan, the Taliban will return" indeed. Interestingly, many Afghanis are not unhappy to see the Taliban returning!

Yes siree, the Taliban has lost - definitely.

(To learn more about the Taliban and "how much" they know about us and hate our freedoms and whatnot, I strongly suggest that you to read/watch the series Talking to the Taliban, via Red Tory: part I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII - but I disgress).

Defeat al-Qaeda? Osama bin Laden got away and is still in hiding, along with most of the al-Qaeda leadership, quite alive and well - thank you very much. In the meantime, Pakistan is once again of little help here - not only are bin Laden and al-Qaeda hiding in Pakistan, Pakistan freed suspected al-Qaeda members in 2006, whereas al-Qaeda funding keeps going through Pakistan. At one point, Pakistan even "lost" the trail of bin Laden - and recently, Pakistani President Musharraf declared that Pakistan was "not particularly looking" for him. All well and good, considering that al-Qaeda presumably assassinated opposition leader and staunch al-Qaeda opponent Benazir Bhutto, while continuing to cause much chaos in Pakistan alongside Taliban fighters. And through it all, the now-infamous "on and off" hunt for bin Laden by the U.S.A., Canada and other N.A.T.O. allies still goes on (or not) ... in Afghanistan! No wonder such a wild goose chase will be a very long one ...

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda keeps fighting alongside the Taliban in the continuing insurgency in Afghanistan, and is poised to launch more terrorist attacks around the world ... from Pakistan. That, in addition to the fact that al-Qaeda continues to be a source of inspiration for would-be extremists - especially in Iraq.

Yes siree, al-Qaeda is on the run - definitely.

Bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan? Yes, there have been some positive steps towards democracy in Afghanistan - but such gains are far from being faits accomplis. Rampant corruption and the booming drug trafficking (and the Drug Lords behind it) are but two of the prevailing problems which keep undermining said gains. The biggest problem of them all lies with the remaining powerful, brutish  Warlords. Although having been elected in 2004, President Karzai holds power in Kabul only ... with the consent of said Warlords who hold power practically everywhere else in the country, thanks to more short-sighted, expedient incompetence on the part of the Bush administration. It doesn't help either when one of the Warlords declares allegiance to Osama bin Laden. And Karzai's government remains hardly stable, thanks to the ongoing insurgency. Last, but not least, what of the Afghani women? Little has changed since 2001 and things are in fact worsening in this respect, while laws are slowly but surely returning to the "old style" Taliban ones. On a related note, freedom of the press is not that free just yet and is likewise worsening - all of this thanks to seven years after Afghanistan's liberation from the "Taliban Regime".

Yes siree, the Afghanis have freedom and democracy - definitely.

So all in all, after looking closely at the main justifications/objectives for the war in Afghanistan and how "successfully" they have been achieved, it is safe to conclude that for all the boasts from the Bush administration, as well as those coming from Canada's Harper government (and from the British, and the Australians, and the French, and so on and so forth), soldiers and civilians have been dying in Afghanistan over the last seven years for absolutely nothing.

But we know all too well why we've arrived to this point, which is more or less right back where the Afghanistan war began on all accounts, despite all the empty rhetoric of touting all the progress achieved "over there": botched pre-war planning, botched post-war planning and the disastrous diversion of the Iraq war.

This war is indeed a veritable catalogue of errors.

No wonder Afghanistan is a quagmire. No wonder it's damn hard work. No wonder the situation is grim. No wonder the Afghanistan "mission" is in trouble, if not actually in crisis. No wonder Afghanistan has been assessed as a 30-years long marathon "mission" while we keep running in circles.

For indeed, each one of the prime justifications/objectives for the Afghanistan war have now been either completely disavowed ("defeat the taliban"), more or less abandoned ("defeat al-Qaeda"), or outrightly dismissed/ignored ("bring freedom and democracy"), by the very same people who have been pushing and supporting said justifications and this war.

In essence, the core-reasons for going into Afghanistan are being put aside in lieu of political salvage operations of appearances - with the price continuing to be exacted with the lives of N.A.T.O. soldiers and Afghan civilians in the meantime.

To put it in other words: people and soldiers have been dying over the last seven years for nothing more than what in the end has amounted to a needless and ludicrous political exercize on the part of incompetent "deciders" as their response to 9/11.

The idea of military intervention as the crux of the strategy behind the Global War on Terror(TM) was wrong-headed to begin with and has proven itself to be wrong-headed ever since - if only because one does not wage war on a method/technique of fighting. In this respect, it is now safe to say that the Global War on Terror(TM) has been a colossal failure so far, in addition to fostering more terrorism and extremism than prior to its implementation.

And Afghanistan will forever constitute grave testimony to that effect.

Hip, hip, hooray.

(Cross-posted from APOV)

Originally posted to Mentarch on Thu May 08, 2008 at 02:04 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What a disaster BushCo has been. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat208, kaye, Dauphin, Mentarch

    Everything this man touches turns to crap....

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Thu May 08, 2008 at 02:07:55 PM PDT

  •  To characterise the whole misadventure, (4+ / 0-)

    Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

    by Dauphin on Thu May 08, 2008 at 02:12:01 PM PDT

  •  Ah, but how's that pipeline plan (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepfish, dancewater, Indexer, Mentarch

    to Central Asia coming along?

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu May 08, 2008 at 02:12:47 PM PDT

  •  and yet the commitment doesn't waver (6+ / 0-)

    I diaried this yesterday, and was taken aback by the level of commitment the progressive left has to keep fighting this war, to fight it bigger, with more troops, until we catch Bin Laden or just plain win. I still don't understand how anybody can be anti war in half measures, how people can be so adamant in opposing Iraq but so blithe in supporting Afghtanistan, even though they are the same damn mess. In essence people jump allo ver McCain for being ready to keep troops in Iraq for 100 years, while simultaneously being prepared to keep troops in Afghanistan for the same 100 years. It's absurd. Trasnforming societies through military occupation does not work, regardless of who's in charge of the doomed mission, US, NATO, Canada, Bush or Obama.

    A pessimist is just a well-informed optimist.

    by Marcion on Thu May 08, 2008 at 02:17:57 PM PDT

    •  Could you ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dancewater

      ... post a link to your diary of yesterday? Thanks! ;-)

      •  Here you go. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Simplify, dancewater, Mentarch

        The diary has a nifty poll the answers to which truly terrified me.

        A pessimist is just a well-informed optimist.

        by Marcion on Thu May 08, 2008 at 02:31:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry I missed it! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dancewater

          Your take is very interesting ... and I find myself in agreement with you, with respect to the fact that most people still think of Afghanistan as "the good war" ...

          •  an eye opener (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Simplify, dancewater

            The Democratic Party doesn't stand for what I believe a real left movement should be. But after hanging around on this site long enough and doing diaries and talking to people, I have come to realize that even the people here, who are so commonly denounced as the leftist fringe, in actually are quite conservative and that the Democratic Party is not acting out of fear or corruption as I used to think, but does actually reflect the views of its constituents. The Party is not anti-war because Democrats in their vast majority are not anti war, the Party is for tough on crime, sex offender registration type polcies which I find draconian (I did a diary on this as well), because the membership feels the same way. It's been a real eye opener for me about how far to the right the entire political landscape is in this country and how little hope for reform there actually is.

            A pessimist is just a well-informed optimist.

            by Marcion on Thu May 08, 2008 at 03:09:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Not a hundred years (0+ / 0-)

      but maybe another five to eight years.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

      by ohwilleke on Thu May 08, 2008 at 03:15:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd call it a work in progress. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    antboy

    Point 1:

    The Taliban are not the government.  When they were the government they made other theocracies look lax by comparison.  Not having them in governmental authority has done incredible good for the average Afghan.

    Yes, there is a Taliban insurgency.  But, going from having governmental authority over 90% of the country, to running an insurgency in part of the country, is progress.

    Also, while the Taliban is still ticking, and the number of attacks launched has risen, the Taliban have suffered stiff military casualties (on the order of 20%-30% of all military participants in the insurgency).  Most of the suicide bomb attempts there kill only the bomber, and many of the risk kill perhaps one or two other people.  

    It is worth a moderate military effort to keep the Taliban out of power, and also that the thriving drug trade used to point out the failure of the current civilian government is prospering mostly in areas where the Taliban has undermined the current government's authority.  That's like complaining about Lincoln not getting the roads paved in Georgia.

    Point 2:

    Osama and most of his merry men got away, apparently to the tribal areas of Pakistan, mostly as a result of good faith military miscalculation early on in the conflict. U.S. forces harry them from time to time from Afghanistan, but haven't shut them down.  But they have largely shut down open al-Queda operation in Afghanistan itself, and deprived it of much of a stream of Taliban income.

    In this case as in the case of Taliban support from Pakistan, the problem has now been how we have waged the war in Afghanistan, but our diplomatic stance towards Pakistan with whom we have been far too cosy.

    Point 3:

    Afghanistan has a civilian government and new constitution whose legitimacy is much less disputed than the parallel institutions in Iraq.

    While there is an insurgency in progress, the scale of the violence is an order of magnitude less than it is in Iraq, and the degree to which the civilian government is playing a strong role in maintaining internal security is much greater.

    Afghanistan is not seeing what many third world countries transitioning out of repressive dictatorships see, which is brutal mass attacks against civilians designed to produce ethic cleansing and intense ethnically based battles as part of a larger civil war.  Perhaps tolerating and even legitimating local landlords has preventing the orgies of violence other countries have experienced.

    Let's face it.  Afghanistan is a poor third world country that has spent an entire generation in some mix of civil war and stateless anarchy, capped off with a few years of brutal authoritarian theocratic rule.  It is hardly surprising that it isn't out there winning prizes as a model from Governing Magazine.  Government shared by consent with regional warlords with a pretense of a civilian constitution and government is better than the brutual dictatorships that are far more common in this kind of nation.

    Compared to anarchy, civil war or the Taliban regimes that prevailed before the current regime, Afghanistan is relatively free.  There have been grass roots movements among local village/tribal type leaders to openly abandon some of the most abusive mistreatements of young women.  

    Afghanistan has far less violence than Iraq, despite having just 10% of the number of foreign troops.  We have not used simple brute force of numbers.  We have held together and even increased foreign participation in this military coalition, while the coalition has fallen apart in Iraq.

    We are not ready to say Mission Accomplished in Afghanistan, and we have made mistakes there.  But we are handling it better than we handled either Iraq or Vietnam.  It isn't hopeless at this point and there is no obvious sign that we are making the situation significantly worse by our presence, while there is reasonably good reason to believe that the Taliban would return to power over a good share of the country without our presence (and embrace al Queda as well).

    We need to get out of Iraq so that we can turn out attention to what has been a better justified and better run effort in Afghanistan.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Thu May 08, 2008 at 03:10:41 PM PDT

  •  it is worse than for absolutely nothing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, Mentarch

    it actually set up back economically, morally, politically, ethically.............

    and it has inflamed more terrorism.

    (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

    by dancewater on Thu May 08, 2008 at 04:24:33 PM PDT

  •  Somebody on the Daily Show (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mentarch

    pointed out that about 7 years ago there was a memo "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US" from Afghanistan. Recently there was a new memo "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US" from around Afghanistan.

    We could have done nothing for seven years, and still gotten here, he said.

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Thu May 08, 2008 at 09:35:16 PM PDT

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