Running to stand still in Afghanistan

Our Long Twilight Struggle

Douglas Stone in Front Page Magazine:

Sometimes a problem has no real solution. Sometimes the only option is to accept that plainly and emphatically, as in Afghanistan, the best outcome is the absence of a worse one.

With few if any exceptions our International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) allies don’t seem to understand this fact, and some of them are losing patience with what they regard as an endless war. There was a sense a few years ago that we were winning, and with that, some possibility of bringing the boys home. But the fight has become nastier; our allies are taking increasing casualties; and now there are rumblings of discontent that suggest the possibility of complete withdrawal or, at least, a retreat from the bloody work of actually fighting.

That would be an unmitigated disaster for the West.

I’m not usually the sort that would admit “Sometimes a problem has no real solution.” I will usually put forward that with a little wisdom and a lot of effort, nearly anything is possible. But I agree that the long-term prospects for Afghanistan are ugly. I’ve thought so since long before 9/11, and the attacks in 2001 and the morass since then has only strengthened my conviction.

I have little hope that a true, honest, meaningful “victory” in Afghanistan, one that leaves most parties feeling good and that the effort was worth it, is realistic. The best case may be simply avoiding the worst case.

Even if my gloomy opinion, and that presented in the linked article, are correct, avoiding the worst case is still definitely worth it. Just because crime cannot be permanently stamped out does not mean give up and abandon attempts to police it.

Not everyone feels that way, and that’s trouble.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Taliban hit NATO convoys for third consecutive day


  1. It’s all spin.

    Anyone who thinks Afghanistan is going to be a nice western democracy with a little more effort is an idiot. If that’s our goal, we will certainly lose.

    On the other hand, it is no longer a safe haven for terrorists.
    While the Taliban and AQ are still there, they now plan attacks on the next village instead of New York and DC. So we are winning.

    Our goal should be to keep the bad guys occupied locally at a minimal cost in terms of American wealth and lives.

  2. Bram: Agreed 100%. My post makes me sound more pessimistic than I really am.

    On the other hand, while the bad guys try to bleed us dry I’m hoping that they don’t notice we’re doing it to them…

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