Sunday, September 15, 2013

More on Afghanistan

Rachel Maddow, reviewing Andrew Bacevich's new book (via), writes: "When the drawdown is done and the Afghanistan war hits its scheduled end-date next December, the plan is for the Army to still be larger by 10,000 soldiers than it was on 9/11."

That's a very bad sentence. The reason it's a bad sentence is that the Afghanistan war will not end when ISAF forces end their active role at the close of December 2014. Rather, as Stephen Biddle points out in the Foreign Affairs piece I mentioned in the previous post (here; paywalled), the war will continue, likely in a stalemated mode, between the Afghan army and the Taliban. 

Biddle argues that the U.S. Congress is likely to tire of funding the Afghan military sooner than the Taliban is likely to tire of fighting. Accordingly he urges the Obama admin to pressure Karzai to reach a meaningful negotiated settlement with the Taliban, one that would involve giving them a role in the government (albeit not a controlling role). Failing that, the U.S./ISAF should withdraw sooner, he maintains. Biddle contends there is no point in dragging things out on the present path, at the cost of more soldiers' lives, only to have the war's original objectives go up in smoke when Congress stops funding the Afghan security forces and the Taliban proceed to win. A settlement is possible, he suggests, but the Obama admin is not doing enough to achieve one.

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