NATO, Afghanistan: Just stop pretending please.

25 May

I’m nauseated by this tone of: “phhhheewwww….that was tough, but we put our Yank’ ingenuity to work and our men on the line, did what we could and now it’s time to say good-bye.”

Stop pretending.  Stop pretending you or anybody else had a plan.  Stop pretending that, except for the Turks, the rest of NATO wasn’t the bunch of non-committed pussies you knew they were.  Stop pretending that all you did wasn’t to wage a pointless counterinsurgency with some brave and skilled but totally clueless kids who didn’t deserve to be sent on such a dumb mission if they weren’t going to be given full back-up.  Stop pretending you tried to actually bring the Taliban into the political process in any serious, small-scale, on-the-ground way or that the United States even had people who could’ve negotiated such a tricky, labour-intensive manoeuvre (the Army only has 8,000 Civil Affairs troops, less than 1% of Army total) or that you gave even one Pashtun kid any incentive to not join the Taliban.

Stop pretending that you invested in any roads other than the one to the airport and Bagram, that you invested in any infrastructure at all, that you invested in schools or education for a smart, entrepreneurial-minded people that were starving for it.  Stop pretending you didn’t just irresponsibly throw around a bunch of billions, and a bunch more millions as bakshish to line Karzai and his clan’s pockets, which won’t even be reinvested in Afghanistan but have already found their way to the Emirates by now and will pay for all their sons’ weddings for at least a generation.

STOP PRETENDING YOU DID EVEN THE SIMPLEST SHIT, like pave most of the streets of Kabul, give it a modern sewage system, that it didn’t take you until last year to even put up streetlights in at least the central arteries of Shehr-e-Nau, for fuck’s sake, so that people could see where they were going at night through the smog, and that you’re not probably now leaving that city to the mercy of a civil conflict and a destruction that may be worse than the nineties.’

Stop pretending you did any-thing.  And that if Afghans now get it together somehow, insha’allah, that it won’t only be through their own strength and tenacity, which comes from, I swear, God only knows what mysterious and hidden source and that in the end it won’t be as if you had never been there at all.

Ask any Afghan.  The Soviets did more.  Rezili.

So stop.  Please!

“And I think the reports we get are relatively accurate in the sense that there is real improvement.  In those areas where we’ve had a significant presence, you can see the Taliban not having a foothold, that there is genuine improvement in the performance of Afghan national security forces.

But the Taliban is still a robust enemy.  And the gains are still fragile, which leads me then to the second point that you’ve made in terms of a premature withdrawal.  I don’t think that there is ever going to be an optimal point where we say, this is all done, this is perfect, this is just the way we wanted it and now we can wrap up all our equipment and go home.  This is a process and it’s sometimes a messy process, just as it was in Iraq.

But think about it.  We’ve been there now 10 years.  We are now committing to a transition process that takes place next year, but the full transition to Afghan responsibility is almost two years away.  And the Afghan Security Forces themselves will not ever be prepared if they don’t start taking that responsibility.

And, frankly, the large footprint that we have in Afghanistan over time can be counterproductive.  We’ve been there 10 years, and I think no matter how much good we’re doing and how outstanding our troops and our civilians and diplomats are doing on the ground, 10 years in a country that’s very different, that’s a strain not only on our folks but also on that country, which at a point is going to be very sensitive about its own sovereignty.

So I think that the timetable that we’ve established is a sound one, it is a responsible one.  Are there risks involved in it?  Absolutely.  Can I anticipate that over the next two years there are going to be some bad moments along with some good ones?  Absolutely.

But I think it is the appropriate strategy whereby we can achieve a stable Afghanistan that won’t be perfect, we can pull back our troops in a responsible way and we can start rebuilding America and making some of the massive investments we’ve been making in Afghanistan here back home, putting people back to work, retraining workers, rebuilding our schools, investing in science and technology, developing our business climate.”

— Barack Obama



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