What’s happening in Afghanistan is not only tragic, it’s embarrassing. The American troops will fight, but the Afghan troops who are supposed to be their allies are a lost cause. The government of President Hamid Karzai is breathtakingly corrupt and incompetent — and widely unpopular to boot. And now, as The Times’s Dexter Filkins is reporting, the erratic Mr. Karzai seems to be giving up hope that the U.S. can prevail in the war and is making nice with the Taliban.And America will have to have a long discussion with itself about "who lost the war" just like Vietnam. Republican war hawks will blame Obama as the President who lost Afghanistan and will attack him as such in 2012. Democratic war hawks will say he inherited a war from Bush that was made impossible by the invasion of Iraq. Both will be wrong.
There is no overall game plan, no real strategy or coherent goals, to guide the fighting of U.S. forces. It’s just a mind-numbing, soul-chilling, body-destroying slog, month after month, year after pointless year. The 18-year-olds fighting (and, increasingly, dying) in Afghanistan now were just 9 or 10 when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked in 2001.
Americans have zoned out on this war. They don’t even want to think about it. They don’t want their taxes raised to pay for it, even as they say in poll after poll that they are worried about budget deficits. The vast majority do not want their sons or daughters anywhere near Afghanistan.
Why in the world should the small percentage of the population that has volunteered for military service shoulder the entire burden of this hapless, endless effort? The truth is that top American officials do not believe the war can be won but do not know how to end it. So we get gibberish about empowering the unempowerable Afghan forces and rebuilding a hopelessly corrupt and incompetent civil society.
Our government leaders keep mouthing platitudes about objectives that are not achievable, which is a form of deception that should be unacceptable in a free society.
The reality is there was never a way to win, and the war never should have been fought. More resources, more troops, more bombs, more guns, more drones, more money will not win this war, because the war is lost. It's past time for us to go home. If the point of Obama's surge in Afghanistan was to prove to the American people that our war in Afghanistan is not winnable, then in that he has succeeded.
July 2011 cannot come fast enough. Bring them home.