Today, the United States and N.A.T.O. formally ended the war in Afghanistan. After 13 long and fruitless years in that deeply troubled nation, a force of 11,000 soldiers (Mostly American. I know, what else is new?) will remain behind in a supporting role for the Afghan National Army and National Police. In a statement on Christmas Day, President Obama hilariously said that, “Because of the extraordinary service of the men and women in the armed forces, Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country.” Oh Barrack, if only that were even remotely true.
The fact of the matter is ladies and gentlemen, we lost this conflict. Thanks to a deadly mix of wildly incompetent leadership in the Bush and Obama administrations, along with stunning examples of corruption and overspending, the nation of Afghanistan, a land with great cities like Bamiyan and Mazar-i-Sharif, is doomed to be taken over by the Taliban in the near future.
Politicians will try and tell you that things are better in the nation, but the reality is anything but.
In 2011, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida visited Afghanistan. In an article posted on the Tampa Bay Times website, he claimed that, with respect to the war, “We are on the timeline this year to have some real good news and make some significant progress.” Senator, are you high?
The next year, British reporter Ben Anderson began work on the documentary “This is What Winning Looks Like”. In the film, Anderson documents the problems surrounding the Afghan National Army and Police as the U.S. prepares to exit out of its combat role. Heroin use, theft of weaponry, child molestation, it’s all present and accounted for. To paraphrase Anderson, we’re not leaving because we’ve accomplished our goals; we’re leaving because we have given up.
It’s difficult to really tell just how we failed in this war. For some, the U.S. and its allies had wildly misplaced priorities. This theory can be best displayed when one examines the case of Hajji Juma Khan. In 2008, this drug lord was brought to the U.S. to face charges. What federal prosecutors neglected to mention in their case was that Mr. Khan was an asset who provided information on the Taliban and other enemies for several years. It seems, that in this case, America’s other shadow war (On Drugs), took precedence over the “War on Terrorism”. You would think that the more violent conflict would be more important, but I suppose not.
Misplaced priorities aside, government contractors and the corruption that comes with them can also be blamed for the loss of this war. In 2010, the Obama Administration awarded Blackwater a contract to operate in Afghanistan. Predictably, things didn’t work out. Hilariously, the company, operating from a base called Camp Integrity, signed out weapons from an armory that were meant for the Afghan National Police (Under the name Eric Cartman) and subsequently had them vanish. Did they get sold to the Taliban, rival clans or drug dealers? No one really knows.
In the future, when we eventually end up going back into Afghanistan and wondering why things didn’t work out. There are a few things we’ll end up pointing to. Corruption, misplaced priorities and misplaced trust in people who are downright evil and more interested in having fun and making money than they are stopping the bad guys. Yes, we may have a security agreement with the current Afghan Government, but it won’t help. To quote a fictional soldier from another war the United States didn’t win, “Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don’t turn it off! It wasn’t my war! You asked me I didn’t ask you, and I did what I had to do to win, but somebody wouldn’t let us win!”
That someone was the United States Government.