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Afghanistan 2014

President Obama addressed the nation yesterday from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and on the first anniversary on the elimination of Osama bin Laden, he explained that Afghani security will be Afghani-dependent beginning in 2014. Afghanistan and the United States also executed a “strategic partnership agreement” whereby the United States will work with Afghani security after 2014, but no permanent occupation will take place, and no bases will be built. 

Although the President says the “tide has turned” in the Afghan war, the country has by no means returned to any semblance of a pre-1973 stability or security. This is a country that hasn’t known peace and normalcy in almost 40 years, and it’s unlikely to know them anytime soon. 

But that’s soon going to be Afghanistan’s problem, not ours. What’s important here is that the withdrawal of American involvement will enable the Afghani government to start talking to the Taliban which, if it renounces violence, will be invited to participate in government. We may have been appalled by the Taliban government’s treatment of its citizenry – particularly its women – we went to war with them over their harboring of al Qaeda, not over their internal affairs. We weren’t so appalled by the Taliban that we did anything about their patrons in the Pakistani security service. 

And since al Qaeda was driven into Pakistan and out of Afghanistan, the mission has been muddled, at best. We helped set up the Afghani government that controls very little outside of Kabul. This is a country with a 12% literacy rate for females and 43% for males; with a $900 annual per capita GDP.  What Afghanistan needs isn’t more fighting, but investment in education, infrastructure, and to produce things that don’t involve poppies. That investment obviously can’t come from Afghanistan, which barely has a pot within which to piss, and – as in Iraq – American withdrawal risks further instability and the intervention by Afghanistan’s more malevolent neighbors.  The US should dedicate itself to make resources available to help Afghanistan educate its people and give them economic opportunity. 

But more importantly, President Obama closed with this: 

“As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America. An America where our children live free from fear, and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation.”

It’s also important that we stop fighting wars in Asia and start fixing our own problems here at home. 


  • Jesse Griffis

    Alan, you really are a sucker for this guy, aren’t you? When Obama speaks, do you put away the critical thinking part of your brain?

    We’re still going to be there. Just one more place where our “defense” department will station troops. This is nothing but an election year ploy, playing off his assassination of OBL. Just another sop to Stratfor-like lobbyists who’ll siphon off our money to their own pockets.

    WTF does a “partnership” with one of the most corrupt regimes on the planet get us? Which of its “neighbors” is “more malevolent” and what does that mean, exactly?

    How, exactly, do you reconcile “The US should dedicate itself to make resources available to help Afghanistan…” with the earlier “But that’s soon going to be Afghanistan’s problem, not ours.”

    Also, thanks but no thanks – we’ve never been “one people”. But hey, he declared yesterday “Loyalty Day” of all things, so I guess we’re all good as long as we mean well and pledge fealty, er, loyalty, right?

    • Alan Bedenko

      Well, given the number of people who have been killed, injured, displaced, and oppressed, I thought it’d be more appropriate to be pleased with a drawdown and hope that Afghanistan can be helped to help itself have a better future than it’s had recent past. I trust the US to accomplish this more than I trust Afghanistan’s objectively malevolent and interventionist neighbors (Iran, Pakistan).

      But yeah, we should probably just immediately withdraw, create a power vacuum, and leave Afghanistan poor, stupid, and chaotic. That’s definitely a better choice, President Paul/Greenwald.