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Old 05-30-2013   #81
Madhu
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Default Omar, you answered your own question

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Why the doom and gloom? it was an unnecessary, costly, mismanaged boondoggle, but its not like the US has lost the war. In fact, NATO is on the verge of victory.
From an American citizen's perspective, the war (and other expensive adventures undertaken in the name of the war on terror) are/were loaded with incompetence, corruption, honest mistakes, dishonest mistakes etc. But that does not necessarily mean its ended in historic defeat (it could, but it doesnt NECESSARILY mean that). In this case, NATO may yet "win".
It wont be pretty, but it wont be the straightforward defeat that, say, Vietnam was.
Overoptimistic?
Human beings are not toys so it's hard to contemplate words like costly and boondoggle without thinking of them.

At any rate, we are not returning to the 90's, no matter what anyone says, so you have a point.

To answer your question further, because NATO envisioned a vastly different sort of victory, there is worry that it will all fall apart after the elections (who are the candidates even?) and if that is the case was another plan viable all along, less costly in blood and treasure? NATO and the US at the outset didn't think it would be like this and there will always be the wonder, "did it have to be this way?" Plus there is the sneaking suspicion that others benefited at the strategic level when all is said and done (the complaints about others getting the lucrative contracts while we provided the security, all that other geostrategic stuff about who's up and who's down....)

A lot of this thread isn't doom and gloom but a kind of after action report. Come on, you are a physician, you know how that goes, you examine a problematic "case" to see what you learned from it and not to make a mistake in the future

Human nature being what it is, though, if the American and Western economies recover some of their mojo and violence stemming from the region is negligible in the future, the national security apparatus will call it a messy victory of sorts. What those that physically secured it think is another story.

Last edited by Madhu; 05-30-2013 at 03:13 PM. Reason: formatting
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Old 05-30-2013   #82
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Default

There is no way how the mess could still turn out to have a favourable cost/benefit ratio. It may turn out to be no defeat, but it will certainly be inappropriate to claim the war was won.

I suppose that -as usual- only a few hundred or few thousand people in the world will turn out to be "winners" in this war. This is going top include some who make a quick career out of it and some who are war profiteers.


There is a potential point that some females in Afghanistan may be winners, too - but I see no guarantee that the Taliban would have stayed in power for so long without intervention.
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Old 05-30-2013   #83
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Default What will our expedition to Afghanistan teach us?

Mindful of the original title and Jon's warning, with hat tip to the Australian Lowy Institute for this short article 'Afghanistan: What Went Wrong?' which reviews four books, only the second I've seen mentioned on SWC:
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The books, which are all excellent, approach the subject from different vantage points. Astri Suhrke’s When More Is Less: The International Project in Afghanistan examines the internal tensions and contradictions of the overall international effort. Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan focuses more narrowly on the US military and civilian “surge” in 2010 and 2011. In Bazaar Politics: Power and Pottery in an Afghan Market Town, Noah Coburn conducts a micro-level analysis of the politics in one village near Kabul during the international mission. Finally, Thomas Barfield’s Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History is a macro-history of Afghan politics and governance from pre-modern times to the present.
Link to article:http://themonkeycage.org/2013/05/24/...at-went-wrong/

The full journal article, which appears in Perspectives on Politics is available till June 23rd on:http://journals.cambridge.org/action...ne&aid=8923724

The Abstract says:
Quote:
The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, which deposed the Taliban regime, was followed by a major international effort to stabilize that country. More than a decade later, this effort has yielded neither security nor political stability in Afghanistan. After having been ousted from power, the Taliban reestablished itself in the borderlands of Pakistan and began fighting an effective guerrilla war against international and Afghan government forces. Despite heavy losses in recent years, the insurgency shows no sign of giving up. Meanwhile, attempts to establish a credible and legitimate Afghan government have been similarly disappointing. President Hamid Karzai, once hailed as the country's democratic savior, came to be seen instead as the leader of one of the most corrupt regimes on the planet, a perception that has damaged his government's legitimacy both at home and abroad. Afghanistan's development and human rights indicators have improved, but it remains to be seen if these gains can be sustained as the international effort is scaled back. Finally, although the United States and its partners succeeded in weakening Al Qaeda in the region, both Afghanistan and nuclear-armed Pakistan appear to have become considerably less stable over the course of the mission, with untold consequences for the future.
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Old 05-30-2013   #84
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''When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.''

Warren Buffett

Not that the management was indeed brilliant, but the second part fits Afghanistan quite nicely. Even smarter guys acting more wisely with more ressources would have had a difficult time to drink for the horse and getting it filled up with good government, democracy, impartial justice and human rights.

The lesson would be to try to avoid smaller and bigger blunders by trying to stay within the circle of competence and leave it only if you are forced to. The security return on the invested capital has been dismal for the US and it's Nato allies, especially during the last ten years.
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Old 05-31-2013   #85
omarali50
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Default The Taliban will not win (in the "long term")

I got inspired to write: http://www.viewpointonline.net/what-...e-taliban.html
btw, I realize this is not really the debate most people here are talking about. But it does seem to me that a lot of people, as they discuss tactical blunders and administrative failures also take it for granted that Afghanistan is somehow "naturally" fated to be a Taliban state, as is the tribal area of Pakistan. I disagree. Change is already underway and NATO itself is just one of the tools Allah is using to make the changes he seems to want everywhere in the world.

excerpt: The hardcore Taliban will not win. This is the easiest prediction to make as well as the safest. The last Taliban regime conquered most of Afghanistan only after the country had been thoroughly and completely destroyed by the US-Pakistani-Saudi Jihad operation. Even then, success against other ragtag groups of extortionists and religious fanatics was only possible with the critical assistance of superior Pakistani technology and organization. Everything from the rudimentary banking system to the rudimentary communications network was provided by GHQ. Other powers like India, Iran and Russia supported other groups, but nobody had the access or the resources that Pakistan had developed during its long American-sponsored intervention in Afghanistan.

All that has changed. The current Afghan regime and its urban centers are not the same devastated country that the CIA-ISI gifted to the Jihadi warlords and Taliban. The US has completely switched sides and still has huge resources it can commit to the current regime. Russia, Iran and India are all determined to avoid a second coming of the Taliban. Last but not the least, the Taliban themselves are not one firmly disciplined group. The Mullah Umar group may have significant legitimacy in the eyes of all jihadi factions, but the young Turks of the TTP don’t really take orders from anyone. The Haqqani network is supposed to be a “veritable arm” of the finest intelligence agency in the world, but 10 years of double and triple games cannot have failed to take a toll on that beautiful relationship. The core dream may be intact but it has to work with the REALLY insane fanatics of the TTP type on one side, the more moderate nationalist and pragmatic local Afghan leaders on the other, and a Pakistani intelligence service that is, at a minimum, playing all three sides. Nothing good will come of it.

In fact I will go out on a limb and make a bolder prediction: there won’t be even a temporary phase in which the finest intelligence agency in the world tries to revive a coalition of “good Taliban” to get a piece of the pie in Afghanistan. Well before the Americans leave, the Pakistani establishment will suffer a final unpleasant rupture with its beloved good Taliban. ALL Taliban, good, bad and ugly, will be at war with the Pakistani state AND the American supported Afghan state. It doesn’t matter whether the deep state has or has not arranged the MMA-2 (PTI and JI) coalition in KP to ensure smooth sailing for its plans. Those plans (if they exist, by now, who knows) will come to nothing. The ruling elite is the ruling elite. Their future is as part of globalized capital (American, Chinese, Saudi, it hardly matters). Even Imran Khan will be re-educated and will discover how important it is to bomb terrorists in FATA. This may sound like a bold prediction to some, but war with the Taliban is coming as surely as the cart follows the horse.

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Old 05-31-2013   #86
Madhu
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Default Interesting Omar

Those are good points. The ground realities have changed, haven't they?, and are different from the 90's; lots more people are aware of the dangers. For Pakistan, the first elected government to transfer power is a plus, the changing nature of the regional arrangements (I'm sure the Chinese and Saudis are no longer amused) and the growth of uncontrollable elements makes a rerun of the 90's unlikely.

Interesting.
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Old 05-31-2013   #87
Madhu
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Default @ Omar

I've wanted to ask you (or others) this question for awhile now (on the more 'sophisticated' backers of the hardcore Taliban):

Shashank Joshi wrote an article suggesting that denial of visas of high ranking officials and officers might have changed a certain calculus toward Afghanistan. You said that intelligence agencies and others might have been convinced early on if the situation was approached in a certain way. It's worked in certain instances, we've denied visas to get things moving diplomatically in the region.

Do you think this sort of thing instead of the weird Holbrooke/Nasr/Kerry carrots forever and ever might have worked early on?
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Old 12-31-2014   #88
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Default Moderator's Note

There is now a thread for 2015 called Reflections on the past (assessment of ISAF etc up to 2015) at:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=21570

This thread which started in April 2013 and ended in May 2013, is fascinating to read now and thanks to those who contributed. Plus Jon Custis for starting it.
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