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Patrick Buchanan
Pat Buchanan
25 Nov 2014
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A Decade of War -- for What?

Comment

"My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war," said Barack Obama from Bagram Air Base.

"Here in the predawn darkness, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of troops in harm's way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home. ... The time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end."

Interesting comment, that last.

If "the time of war" is at an end, does that rule out U.S. military action in Syria or war on Iran?

Setting aside the 14,000-mile round trip to Afghanistan to do an end zone dance on the anniversary of Seal Team Six's dispatch of Osama bin Laden, Obama seems to have boxed in his Republican rivals.

His assurance that our wars are ending and our troops are coming home reflects the national will. And his partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai and pledge that a U.S. force will remain to train the Afghan army and prevent al-Qaida's return inoculates him against the charge that he is cutting and running.

Yet The New York Times was disappointed.

Obama had not said how the United States is to train the Afghan army to defeat the Taliban by 2014, nor how we can get Karzai to deal with the pervasive corruption and incompetence of his government.

Nor did Obama say how we can be certain al-Qaida will not return when we depart.

The Times misses the point.

This speech was not designed to lay out a U.S. strategy for the next 12 years, but to get Barack Obama past the post in November.

And for that objective, the speech works.

No one knows what will happen when 23,000 more U.S. troops come home by Sept. 30, and all combat troops are out in 2014. The odds are that, after a "decent interval," like the one in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975, the Taliban will return to take vengeance on all who abandoned them, and Afghanistan will come again to resemble the land we invaded a decade ago.

Why is this probable?

First, because the Taliban have shown themselves to be, though fewer in number, a superior fighting force to the Afghan army. They have not needed foreigners to motivate, train, advise or lead them.

Nor have they needed foreign money to fight. Yet they have battled the best army in the world for a decade and repeatedly sacrificed their lives in suicide attacks.

How many Afghans on our side have launched suicide attacks?

Second, the Taliban are rooted in the Pashtun, the largest tribal group in Afghanistan, which constitutes half the population and is concentrated in the crucial south and east.

Third, they have a secure sanctuary in Pakistan.

Fourth, because, as we saw with the hysterical reaction to what U.S. troops thought was the routine burning of desecrated Qurans, Islam is the most powerful cultural and social force in the country. And the Taliban are the most deeply rooted in that faith.

Fifth, because nationalism is the most potent political current roiling nations from the Maghreb to Middle East to South Asia. And the Taliban have the causalities and credentials to prove they will fight forever to free their country of foreign influence.

A majority of Afghans surely wish the Taliban would not return, given the savagery of their previous rule and the desire of the Afghan people to be free to live their own lives according to their own interpretation of their faith.

Yet the Taliban have shown themselves willing to persist against huge odds, to fight and die in considerable numbers for the kind of country they wish to live in — and the kind of regime they wish to live under.

Our allies have not remotely matched their zeal.

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history," said Mohandas Gandhi.

So, after a decade of war in Afghanistan, what have we accomplished, and at what cost? Some 2,000 U.S. dead, 16,000 wounded, hundreds of billions sunk, scores of thousands of Afghan dead. Al-Qaida was driven out a decade ago but is now in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, North Africa and Iraq.

The Taliban are gone from Kabul but may be coming back. And our hope of preserving what success we have had rests with Hamid Karzai.

"America has no designs beyond an end to al-Qaida safe havens," said Obama in Bagram. "Our goal is not to build a country in America's image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban."

But if those are our goals, had we not achieved them all by early 2002? What, then, were we fighting for — these 10 years?

If we had to do it all over again, would we?

The nation now seems not to think so. And the nation is right.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

10 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... The object was never to defeat the Taliban...Or Al-Qaida... Our object was to put more American Dollars in the hands of rich people under the pretense of fighting these people... We should have played the long game... We should have realized that what our military is good at is invasion... No military is good at holding geography especially when the geography is more than half the enemy...We have a 19th century mindset, and it is that which has cost us all the lives, and worse, made those deaths futile... We could have went in ten times for the cost of staying once, and all we have learned from staying once is that we cannot go back again...Our object was not victory... No one can defeat Islam except Islam... Our proper object was the political solution, and if we had went in, and pulled out, and let them form up, and went in again, beat them and pulled out, and let them form up; then at any point, we might have said: talk with us, work with us, or we will smash you again... Instead, we stayed, they left, and trickled back as guerrillas, gnats, and horse flies that kept us on edge, sapped our wealth, and will, and sent us home broke and feeling stupid...

Our men did well... They beat the crap out of the enemy at every opportunity... It is the generals and the politicians who think: We cannot leave, or we will look beaten... So they beat us themselves to stay... It is nonsense... You should never let your enemy choose the battlefield... You should never give him interior lines... You should never let political considerations dictate military orders... It is absolute cost which is bringing our troops home, defeated by geography, defeated by distance, defeated by their political corruption and our own, defeated by profiteers, and defeated by Islam which no representative army of Christianity will ever defeat... Many people predicted this moment... Money talked while the intelligent and educated were trying to teach history to the government...Money, money, money; the same trinity that is making The U.S. a first rate third world nation has cost us this war... For nothing... Thanks....Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri May 4, 2012 4:40 AM
War is the health of the state.
Comment: #2
Posted by: N. Joseph Potts
Fri May 4, 2012 10:47 AM
Guess Pat conveniently forgot Reagan referred to the Taliban as "freedom fighters" and the "moral equivalent" to our own founding fathers. And Reagan did, after all, arm them and help train them to give the Soviets a little more grief.

What goes around, comes around.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Ms. Rowena
Fri May 4, 2012 8:42 PM
Re: N. Joseph Potts;... Really??? War is the health of the state??? If you mean that war is the means of pissing away the health of the state in order to enjoy disease, then I agree... Wars of that sort, for practically no gain, over no piece of real estate people can prize, on the far side of the earth in a place more up and down than side to side, are not health, but insanity... What was said about Barbarosa, that it was a failure of the General Staff is correct in this case as well... Where were the generals to advise that Afghanistan was a fool's errand doomed to failure??? The generals are Christian oriented yes men, but they did not do their homework... They relied on faith instead of fact... They ignored the lessons of history as though we were immune to them...Wars bankrupt states and bankruptcy results in revolution.... That as been THE cause of every revolution in modern times, and I would shout for joy to see it, if I did not realize how dangerous a proposition are revolutions, and they will not be less so when our own generals have the power to nuke us...Think of what would become of General Washington or Napoleon if the opposition had had nukes...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri May 4, 2012 9:02 PM
Re: Ms. Rowena;... Reagan liked strikes and unions when they were in Poland, too... He only hated democracy for us...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri May 4, 2012 9:04 PM
Re: James A, Sweeney
Mr Sweeney,
An accurate and eloquent assessment of our flawed, corporate driven foreign policy.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Alex Reichert
Sat May 5, 2012 7:07 AM
Re: Alex Reichert;..Eloquence beats inarticulate with a big stick... Thanks... Thank You... Sweeney
Comment: #7
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat May 5, 2012 12:48 PM
Re: James A, Sweeney. You hit the bullseye, my Ironworker friend. I could never have said it this well.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Masako
Sat May 5, 2012 7:17 PM
Re: Masako;... And thank you, too, Sir... Sweeney
Comment: #9
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sun May 6, 2012 8:27 AM
----Rockefeller front CNP member, Pat Buchanan,
pitching 'authorized' dissent in this, the 11th hour
of the CFR ---RED China handove and takedown op.

Buchanan himswelf has yet to display ANY repentance,
or even conscience, of his primetime involvement
with making the 'Nick's ON--MAO' handover happen.

In fact, we have yet to see an interviewer even
bring it up.

Even worse, Buchanan relentlessly acts the apologist for
RED China, and the scholarly predictive programmer for
the swiftly approaching Globalist occupation of our land.

---DO NOT be taken in by Buchanan! ---He's a CON ------JOB!
Comment: #10
Posted by: revere guy
Tue May 8, 2012 12:44 AM
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