Some Trumpsters, particularly those in the administration, gushed at how “presidential” the Donald was in delivering his Afghanistan speech. I don’t see it. What I saw was a flip-flop on an issue he doesn’t care about based on the advice of his generals. Furthermore, I don’t understand his secret strategy for winning. Or even what winning in Afghanistan would look like. What I do understand is history. I also understand is what this war is doing to our military. And I can’t say I like it or approve. History, from Alexander the Great up to the Soviet Union, says that nobody wins a war in Afghanistan. And even worse is the historical record for success in taking sides in another country’s civil war.
Generally, I take a Groucho Marx approach to Trump’s policies (Horse Feathers- “Whatever it is I’m against it.”) On the other hand, I feel the same way about Breitbart. It’s not that I don’t carefully consider the merits of whatever Trump and friends propose, it’s just that their amateur efforts always fail to persuade me that their ideas are sound and worthy of further consideration. I think in this case, however, both candidate Trump and Breitbart are right. We should get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. I’m not saying we should dump the Afghan government the way we did South Vietnam. But seventeen years is enough. It’s time to bring the troops home.
One of the perks of my job at PPCC is that I get to work with soldiers and veterans, many of whom have served in Afghanistan. They are great people, but I have not met a single one who thinks we should be fighting there or that we can win. Even worse is how many I have met who have been physically maimed, mentally damaged or both. I also know of many soldiers whose marriage have broken up because of multiple deployments. Continually sending our troops to fight a war they consider unwinnable is a good way to destroy our military. It certainly has had a terrible effect on morale. Did we learn nothing from Vietnam?
Afghanistan is a country torn between the modern world and medieval tribal culture. Village elders keep women as hidden chattel, support honor killings, and stonings, while at the same time tolerating the rape of young boys. Their national sport is playing polo with a dead goat. The foundation of their economy is heroin. Warlords carry more clout than the national government. And everywhere, corruption and bribery rule.
While it is encouraging to see Trump listening to his generals instead of just his instincts, he is making a “yuge” mistake. Military people are trained more in war than in global strategy. Most U.S. global experts have been preaching the need to get out of the country as quickly as feasible. Although the stated goal of keeping Afghanistan from becoming a safe harbor for future terrorists is admirable, that rocket left the launch pad a long time ago. Dubya blew that opportunity by making Iraq (which had nothing to do with 9/11) the focal point of his administration instead of Afghanistan (which had everything to do with 9/11.) The entire east coast of Africa is now a breeding ground for radical Islamic terrorists. Ethiopia, Somalia, the Sudan as well as a good chunk of Central and North Africa are engaged in tribal warfare on a horrific scale. And wherever there is turmoil in a Muslim country, terrorist organizations thrive.
We shouldn’t abandon the Afghan people or their country. They are fighting and dying for their country and freedom. They need our help and support (see my essay https://www.usrepresented.com/2015/09/01/george-w-bush-pusher-in-chief/ for ideas.) What they and we don’t need is another seventeen years of Americans dying in the fool’s errand of building a nation where one has never existed before. President Trump should devolve back to candidate Trump and get the hell out of this never-ending war. To stay is to bleed our army, one rotation at a time.