In March of 1954 the French put into motion a plan to devastate the Viet Minh forces in Vietnam. The problem was they did not understand their enemy, had no compelling reason for being there and they failed to anticipate their own weaknesses. Viet Minh general Giap had made every effort to study his enemy and to understand his own weaknesses. The result was victory. The USA in Afghanistan is repeating the French mistakes. We arrogantly refuse to understand the people and continue to believe we can fool ourselves into the fantasy that things are better there. The New York Times article today by describes how the US military is leaving and the Taliban is still attacking and preparing to attack and destroy any Afghan army we leave behind. This has happened before with both the British and the Russians. The Afghan army will change sides the minute the last US soldier is gone. Better we follow the successful past route here and pay off everyone, leave a ton of material so that the Taliban will be too busy carrying back the loot to their caves and get out while we can. This is Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby land if we do not.
Cost of Afghanistan
The Budget office estimates about $600bn to date and by 2020 another $600bn (http://www.fas.org/...) to support any further operations or surviving Afghan forces friendly to us.
Cost of Iraq to date (http://usliberals.about.com/...) over one $1trillion. Cost of Iraq for 2012 is about $10 billion according to the Washington Post (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/...). We left Iraq like the Russians left Afghanistan, we paid off the warlords, gave everyone a load of weapons and then made the photo opt retreat. When the experts are asked why the level of violence seems to be rising in both Iraq and Afghanistan they have a variety of illogical answers, the only one that fits the history of Afghanistan is that everyone makes money when the foreigner is there, when they leave so does the money. By intensifying the attacks the Taliban extends the money train and any other answer is simply inconsistent with the history. Every other group facing foreign invaders gets into the same situation. Then when the enemy leaves everyone goes at it as they did before. They simply change uniforms and sides when the colonial force is present. This "makes progress" for consumption at home and results in investment and aid, which fuels corruption and rebellion, which requires more money for troops and cash for "allies."
Invasion Just Created More Radicalism
Hasan Kakar noted in an article in a book edited by Anthropologist Louis Dupree in 1971 that the mullahs were closely associated with the people who they led in prayer and instructed. They acted to arbitrate quarrels and feuds acting as "qazi" in rural areas. Prior to the British invasion their influence was " entirely moral and they possessed no political power." The British invasions of Afghanistan changed this giving much more power to the religious figures like the mullahs as they became conduits through which the political leaders gave sums to incite the people against the invaders.
To extract ourselves from Afghanistan now would be common sense, "good money after bad." Or as Kipling said of Afghanistan, it exists for the manufacturers of weapons and uniforms. For anyone who has read anthropologist Louis Dupree's books on Afghanistan and the various attempts to conquer it, or former CIA chief Bearden's estimation of involvement there (http://0-www.jstor.org.opac.sfsu.edu/...), our continued presence is as close to insanity as a nation can get in decision-making.
We are in the phase Bearden calls, the put an unpopular emir on the throne period. The British and Soviets both arrived at this point and both thought that their task was nearly done. Instead this is when things get really bad. The only route out, if two terrible lessons are not enough to learn the drill, is to leave now, leave totally and leave without looking back. The geopolitical crisis has been in place for decades and as I detail in my earlier two segments on the history, in dailykos (http://www.dailykos.com/... and http://www.dailykos.com/... and http://www.dailykos.com/...) interests will fill the gap, a gap that American soldiers do not have to die for. Both India and Iran are eager to use Afghanistan for their own ends, as is Russia and Pakistan. With our departure the game will go on, but will not change very much.
The only detail will be the names of the foreign soldiers who will die and the number of Afghans who will suffer. This is a long story and even Alexander the Great was bothered by the powers of the Afghans and the difficulty of changing them. When everyone gives up and leaves them alone, that is when Afghanistan will enjoy some stability. One has to remember that the Taliban were a creature of the USA/Pakistan military intelligence, if that can be call "intelligent."
Nevertheless, the arrangement of warlords and their foreign backers will continue after our demise, or exit. The only question for us now is how much the cost will be to Americans.
Pakistan Next Theater of Military Fantasy
Matthew Green’s article in Feb 12/13 2011 Financial Times, “US hopes tribal highway will be path to stability,” addresses the issue of how to pacify tribal areas in Pakistan without a reference to history. It is another example of how we prepare poorly for future conflict. The Obama administration's policies have not changed an iota and the situation is simply a reproduction of the same old play book of the Soviets and the British. The American military has learned nothing since Vietnam, except how to market itself and its defeats. One might recall the efforts in this from Vietnam (both the French and Americans) but a more pertinent example would be the Soviets. In building roads the British depended on this strategy in the 19th Century and model villages were tried in the 1950s and 1960s by the USA as Stephen Farrell noted in his
February 2010 article in the New York Times,” The area was settled with hundreds of new families in the late 1950s and early 1960s to be “model villages” under a vast scheme to rejuvenate the entire Helmand River Valley — using an American company that helped build the Hoover Dam.”
Roads have not resulted in pacification as the Jamestown Foundation noted, “The Kabul-Kandahar portion was first made into a modern highway by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1961 and
1966, with most of the funding provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) At around the same time, the Soviets constructed the highway between Kandahar and Herat. ”. In both cases, the interventions led to corruption and disruption of local economies, created antagonism against the builders and made matters generally worse. The current proposal for Pakistan’s Waziristan will fail to produce the stated goals but will line some pockets on both sides of the border and increase chaos, cost lives and leave matters worse when the builders leave.