Recent US casualties in Afghanistan have underscored what’s been clear for some time: The US war there is unwinnable.
The wise thing to do is to wind down US military operations there and withdraw, and that shouldn’t be contingent on a deal with the Taliban, writes retired Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, a senior fellow for Defense Priorities.
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Two more American troops were killed in Afghanistan over the weekend, the latest in a long line of “insider attacks.” According to official DoD statistics, we’re up to 2,440 American deaths in Afghanistan now.
It’s painful to see American casualty numbers in Afghanistan rise while the White House refuses to acknowledge what has been clear for well over a decade: The war is unwinnable.
And just yesterday, a report came out saying President Trump has given conditional approval for a peace deal with the Taliban that would result in withdrawing some forces from Afghanistan. Withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan is something to celebrate. However, our withdrawal should not be contingent on a signed agreement with the Taliban as we can leave on our own terms — and we should.
As I argued this week in a US Senate hearing on the “Afghanistan Papers,” the only rational course of action at this point is to wind down our military operations in Afghanistan and withdraw all combat troops.
As I have been arguing for more than a decade, the United States has stubbornly pursued a military strategy, contrary to overwhelming and consistent evidence, that fundamentally could not succeed. We ignored entire categories of problems that we didn’t want to acknowledge, while continuing year after year to throw the bodies of young Americans into harm’s way in hopes the flawed strategy would work anyway.
Anthony Cordesman, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, published an assessment of US operations in 2015 entitled “Afghanistan a Year After ‘Transition’: Losing the War at Every Level.” In it, he identifies the central problem causing failure.
“First, the United States has no declared strategy and shows no signs of trying to implement one,” he wrote. “It has slowly extended its military mission, and seems to have increased its use of airpower,” but never evolved beyond merely conducting tactical actions. That mistake has never been corrected.
President Trump entered office intent on shutting down “endless wars,” but barely four months into his Administration, was convinced by then-National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster to simply increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. Regrettably, the increase in the number of troops did not come with a corresponding change in strategy.
After McMaster’s departure, the Pentagon tried to increase the amount of firepower by launching unprecedented numbers of bombs and missiles at Taliban targets in 2018 and 2019. The presumed intent was to make the Taliban sue for peace. It didn’t work. The Taliban continued to grow in strength and in territorial holdings — yet the …read more
Source:: Business Insider