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News What is ''the mission'' in Afghanistan?

  1. Mar 13, 2012 #1
    What is ''the mission'' in Afghanistan? What do supporters of the war imagine will be achieved by 5 or 10 more years of war?

    Do we want to just keep fighting until the Afghans bend over and accept U.S. occupation without retaliation?
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  3. Mar 13, 2012 #2


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    Uh, what? What makes you think we want 5 or 10 more years of occupation or that accepting the occupation is a relevant concern? The way you posed the questions makes little sense.

    The mission is the same as it was in the last few years of Iraq: help establish/maintain stability and train the government and military to do their jobs so we can leave and so that the new Afghani government can stand on its own after we leave.
  4. Mar 13, 2012 #3
    The government, which blatantly rigged the last election, by all rights won't be able to stand without constant U.S. support.

    Karzai has been in power for 8 years. He was the choice of Washington from the get-go, not the choice of Afghanistan. If he can't stand on his own two feet by now, what makes you think he will be able to in 5 or 10 more years?

    What is the problem with the Afghan military? Why is it not strong enough to ''do its job''? Is it that there aren't any men in Afghanistan who know how to use weapons and fight?

    No. Afghanistan has no shortage of men willing to lay down their lives to fight for what they believe in. For centuries, Afghans have fought foreigners invading their land, always successfully.

    The fundamental problem is that these men are not willing to fight for the Karzai government. They are fighting against it, and against the U.S. troops that are allied with it.

    The government we are trying to ''train'' to ''do its job'' is never going to have a military that is willing to fight for it, because the real fighters in Afghanistan are busy trying to kick the U.S. off their land, not fight for the U.S.

    So our goal is untenable, and/or a farce.

    Which is why I included the line about ''accepting U.S. occupation without retaliation.'' Because when Karzai is allied with the U.S. troops, you can't expect prideful Afghans to do anything but fight against this occupation.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  5. Mar 13, 2012 #4


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    I think another 5-10 years is too long and I think if we don't see real progress soon we should re-evaluate our goals and exit strategy. I was actually thinking of starting a discussion about that, but I'll hold for a bit.
  6. Mar 13, 2012 #5


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    Initial mission:

    Eventually, the Afghanistan mission could be defined by how it fit into the Bush Doctrine:

    #1 fits into Bush's original reason for invading Afganistan. As Bush's foreign policy evolved, building a democratic government in Afghanistan became part of the mission:

    This is definitely a problem. Afghanistan doesn't have a unified culture that can easily be governed. It's too fractured into both ethnic groups and subgroups within each ethnic group. It's almost certain that whoever is in power will favor members from his own group not only because of tribal loyalty, but because their distrust of rival groups borders on fear.

    The Taliban is about the only unifying force in Afghanistan - in that not wanting them back in power is about the only thing all of the different 'tribes' can agree on. If the Taliban were defeated, Karzai would soon be gone as well, as his ouster would be the new unifying cause in Afghanistan, with the next ruler's ouster serving as the next unifying force, etc. It will be a very interesting government (if any) that can coexist with Afghani residents. (On the other hand, the Taliban did cross ethnic/family lines by using religion as the new unifying cause and they did have a large following, even if the majority of the country disliked them, so it is possible to find something that can bring at least enough unity to hold the majority at bay.)
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  7. Mar 13, 2012 #6
    The Afghanistan troops are the chasers in the hunting party. Their job is to spread out and flush all the game towards the Pakistan boarder where they have nowhere else to go. Spies take their pictures, learn as much as they can, and then use predator drones to kill off the worst predators among them. Just like shooting fish in barrel.

    The US is also probably still hoping to retain a healthy presence in Afghanistan and struggling to get the natives under some measure of control. It has some worthwhile minerals and is about as third world as it gets meaning nobody will complain too much if we exploit them.

    You have to think long term when it comes to resources like that. For example, the Japanese have been cutting down the rain forest for decades and sinking some of the better timber in the pacific. Right now the stuff is dirt cheap, but in another couple of decades the prices will start going through the roof and all that cold water protects their investment. If the US establishes a long term presence in Afghanistan on whatever pretense and the country conveniently never rises much above the stone age its perfect for exploiting later. The same principle applies to the US suddenly complaining about China limiting her export of rare earths. We want them to exploit their's in part so we can save our own for when the price goes up. That's just the way of the world. A poor man sells whatever he can when he can, and the rich man encourages him while stockpiling whatever will go up in value the most.
  8. Mar 14, 2012 #7
    What ''real progress'' do you imagine is possible that hasn't been achieved in 10 years?

    The Neocon dream is that Afghanistan will be a non-islamist democracy friendly to the U.S.

    But that's just a dream. If we left Afghanistan alone, it would probably revert to an Islamic government that is unfriendly to the U.S. Stay as long as want, but you can't force Afghanistan to be something its not in the long run.

    However, you CAN definitely keep occupying Muslim lands and convincing the whole Muslim world that the U.S. is engaged in a war on Islam.
  9. Mar 14, 2012 #8


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    The same progress that happened in Iraq after the troop surge there. The reality is that we always devoted more troops to Iraq while neglecting Afghanistan. Now we have more troops in Afghanistan, so we should give it some time (a short time, but still...).
    "Neocon"? Uh, are you aware that we have a liberal democratic President running the war today, not a "Neocon"?
    If "the whole Muslim world" believed "the US is engaged in a war on Islam" then "the whole Muslim world" would have to have a serious comprehension problem due to "the whole Muslim world" being radicals. So you are displaying a serious anti-Islam prejudice with that statement, implying that "the whole Muslim world" are radicals. Radical Islamists think we are at war with the whole Muslim world, but that's part of what makes them radicals: they started a war with us and "the whole Muslim world" did not join it.

    So I said above we should re-evaluate if we don't soon see a big improvement. It sounds like your new mission would be to simply pull out and let whatever happens happen. What do you hope would happen then and what do you consider the risk to be if the Taliban reassert control over the country?

    A little hint of the new mission I'd be willing to accept: The same as the current status of our war in Pakistan. Low intensity warfare using drones and occasional SEAL raids to take down terrorists. I'd be willing to accept that for decades to keep the Taliban and al Qaeda at bay.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  10. Mar 14, 2012 #9

    jim hardy

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    Brzeszinski's "Grand Chessboard" is interesting .

    I'd say it's to 'westernize' the whole region. Maybe to bottle up China.

    Not saying it's right or wrong, just that's what i think it is.
  11. Mar 14, 2012 #10
    Say what you want about Obama's domestic policies, in regards to Afghanistan there's little practical difference between him and Bush.

    The Neocon foreign policy ideal is that we can go invade countries, topple their governments, the people will be happy about it and start voting for non-islamic governments that will be our allies.

    You fail to be able to see things from another perspective. Numerous global polls have found that majorities in Muslim countries believe the U.S. is the greatest threat to world peace. Why would they believe that?
    - 10 years occupying Afghanistan
    - 8 years occupying Iraq
    - Decades of supporting Israel's abuse of the Palestinians
    - Publicly calling for war with Iran
    - Decades of supporting secular dictatorships in the Muslim world to keep popular will for Islamic government at bay

    Our actions in the middle east are very easy to construe as ''war against Islam''. Perhaps that is not our intention, but to any Muslim who looks at the Muslim World, he sees countries at war with the United States, countries threatened by war with the United States, or dictatorships allied with the United States which permit the United States to set up military bases on its soil.

    Yes, my mission would be to simply leave Afghanistan alone. My mission would be to leave the whole region alone.

    Your plan to constantly be bombing Afghanistan for decades, killing dozens of civilians to get a couple of terrorists, is just the thing that is needed to assure that Muslims and Afghans continue to try to attack the United States.

    Think about if China periodically bombed the United States. In the long run, would that make us more or less hateful towards China?

    It's just astounding how you can't see that bombing a country makes them hate us.
  12. Mar 14, 2012 #11
    We either continue until victory or we leave allow Afghanistan to relapse and become a breeding ground for terrorists. Anything in between, despite pleasing moderates, will result in the latter.
  13. Mar 14, 2012 #12
    The problem as I see it with that philosophy is that you cannot achieve victory over an idea (that the US is the Great Satan, etc.). The best we canhope for is that the Afghanis as a people can take over control of their own country.
  14. Mar 14, 2012 #13
    The whole "fighting an idea" is a straw man.

    We aren't fighting ideology. The people who are murdering innocent people and forcing their religion upon others are tangible and defeatable.
  15. Mar 14, 2012 #14
    Except China's defacto government and primary political party isn't radical using religion for extreme, inhumane hate and suppression against their own people and the rest of the world.
  16. Mar 14, 2012 #15


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    Wait... China in that analogy was the US. Are you saying the US is using religion for extreme, inhumane hate and suppression against their own people and the rest of the world?
  17. Mar 14, 2012 #16
    No, I'm refering to the target of this thread: Afghanistan and the justification for being there. I can see how my post caused confusion though. I was trying to 'disarm' the China/US analogy because there is little to no justification for China to be bombing the US. The rhetoric may be increasing between the US and China, but I think that at worst we will enter another cold war (which, economically speaking - may be a good thing, we need a politically correct national focus/goal to keep us occupied IMO).

    We're in Afghanistan for multiple reasons: our own safety first and eliminating a radical sect of individuals second. I see no problem with that decision. Does it suck? Absolutely, but I think being 'hands off' (even from the start) would have escalated the situation even further. The terrorists are anti-US (and will act on it) weither we are in their backyard or not - at least now the terrorists have a well armed punching bag (for lack of a better term, no disrespect intended to our soldiers) at arms-length rather than an unsuspecting innocent one in our homeland.
  18. Mar 14, 2012 #17
    This is the biggest misconception out there.

    We have been in their backyard only since after WWII.

    Were we to leave the entire Muslim world alone, there would be no reason for attacking the United States.

    Of course, we have been going to war with the muslim world, occupying the muslim world, and funding dictators in the muslim world for decades, so it seems inconceivable now for us to merely leave them alone.

    But it is the only just path forward. Simply stop messing with them, and you'd be surprised how they stop messing with us.

    Consider this:
    Has any South American nation ever been attacked by Muslims? They are Christians. South America has tons of indecent things that might offend Muslim sensibilities.

    Yet Brazil and Argentina doesn't go around bombing or occupying Muslim lands. And they haven't been attacked by muslims.

    Imagine that. If you don't attack Muslims, they won't attack you.
  19. Mar 14, 2012 #18
    This makes a certain sort of sense to me. In addition to dealing with the Taliban and getting Bin Laden. Plus, it's next to Pakistan (Not sure what that might have to do with it -- Pakistan is some sort of problem, isn't it?). But I thought the US was supposed to be leaving Afghanistan in 2014.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  20. Mar 14, 2012 #19
  21. Mar 14, 2012 #20


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    Oh yes look at that list of crusades in the 1400s. We must squash this threat immediately
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