Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Eight Years in Afghanistan

Eight years ago, we invaded Afghanistan to pursue Al Qaida after the 9/11 attacks (and by extension the Taliban that enabled them). It sounded rather straight forward at the time, but Afghanistan has never been a good place to invade. After eight years, it's unclear what we've accomplished, what we hope to accomplish, our how the hell we're going to finish whatever we're attempting to accomplish.
When we first invaded Afghanistan, I felt it was justified in order to go after Al Qaida. But I also feared the potential for disaster, based on history and the absolute incompetence of the shrub administration. At the time I stated "I fear that we've just stuck our foot in a very large bear trap." And, sadly, this has proven to be true.
The largest mistake, obviously, was the invasion of Iraq which was completely unjustified and also removed the resources needed to defeat Al Qaida. Afghanistan was left to muddle along as a forgotten war.
So what do we do now? There are no good options and the status quo isn't working. Obama's right to want a clear strategy, with clear goals, before allocating more resources. But those goals have to be realistic. And looking at the history of Afghanistan, "realistic" is somewhere between "really bad" and "absolutely horrible." Every option is going to be bloody and expensive.
Getting out of Afghanistan is a lot harder than getting in.

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