If only complex foreign policy decisions could be as easy as they sound like when they are being talked about on the campaign trail or in a debate. If only they were as quick as they seem during a 30 second news soundbite.
Top U.S. military commanders, who only a few months ago were planning to pull the last American troops out of Afghanistan by year’s end, are now quietly talking about an American commitment that could keep thousands of troops in the country for decades.
The shift in mind-set, made possible by President Obama’s decision last fall to cancel withdrawal plans, reflects the Afghan government’s vulnerability to continued militant assault and concern that terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda continue to build training camps whose effect could be felt far beyond the region
But the reality is these highly complex, life-impacting and world-impacting decisions are not easy. Anyone who thinks they are simple and easy, are just ignorant, lying or dangerous for thinking such a thing.
Trust me I am the first one to admit that when I was interviewed in 2007 by the local newspaper what I would do if I was in charge, that I said “we should tell the Afghan government they have until the end of 2007 and then they are on their own, but if we are ever attacked again and find out any part of it came from Afghanistan we have full authority to come back in and lay waste to the place or people we felt were responsible.”
The government and the country is like the worst case welfare mother you have ever heard about. We have created such a strong dependency on our forces that the country and its limping government can’t stand on their own. We have been pushing them around in a wheel chair for so long, they don’t know how or have the strength to use their own legs.
So of course we are not going anywhere. I mean at least when Obama failed to secure a deal to keep our forces in Iraq after 2011, the country of Iraq has somewhat of a functioning Government and a military in appearance. Afghanistan still does not even have that and probably never will. So I assume that is why this story’s title is The U.S. was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades. It probably will take decades unless we go with what I pitched in 2007, “we are gone, its on you, screw us over and we come back in to clean house”. I mean essentially that is what I have said since then.
In its place, there is a broad recognition in the Pentagon that building an effective Afghan army and police force will take a generation’s commitment, including billions of dollars a year in outside funding and constant support from thousands of foreign advisers on the ground.
Yes it will take generations, not just because things take a long time but also because we need new generations of young Afghans who hopefully don’t get corrupted by their ancestors and instead do things for the good and freedom of their own country.
Until such time, they are screwed and as long as we are there…..so are we.