The problem with Afghanistan......

Discussion in 'Afghanistan' started by geauxtohell, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. geauxtohell
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    geauxtohell Choose your weapon.

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    as I see it. For perspective, I was in Afghanistan from March '04 to '05. For the first six months, I was an Infantry Recon Platoon Leader and for the last six months I was the Battalion S5 (civil military affairs). In the latter capacity, I had the chance to deal more with the economic and policy side of warfare. I also had the chance to listen to the "smartest guys in the room" from our government and the UN try and figure out the way forward in Afghanistan (and not make a lot of headway). At the end of my tour, I was under the impression that we had exceeded our shelf life in Afghanistan. I also believed that the following three problems (none of which are military oriented) are the major barriers to any long term stability in Afghanistan, regardless of how many troops we put there or who is running the show. No matter who the President is, these problems are inherent to our situation on the ground in Afghanistan. I don't think I ever hear people reference these things, so I'll include them for your consideration:

    1.) There is no economy in Afghanistan. At it's heart, the nation is a poor, agrarian nation with absolutely no GNP/GDP. That creates a major (IMO, the largest) problem, the massive federal government we have set up has absolutely no tax base to support itself. That means if we pull out, the government will collapse under its own weight. That means, like it or not, we are going to have to subsidize Afghanistan for, well, ever. Compare that to Iraq, which has oil and has *magically* stabilized after we figured out how the revenue sharing with the oil was going to work.

    2.) We are trying to impose a federalist system on a nation of tribes. Since it's inception, Afghanistan has been tribal and governed by tribal codes and laws. It's not "Sharia Law". It's Pastunwali. Hard core Islamic belief systems take a seat in the back next to the Afghan's peculiar code for "everything" (at least the Pashtun majoirity). We are trying to get a group of people who have been tribal since the inception of the nation to accept a strong central government. I am only surprised that we've had any sort of success.

    3.) The life expectancy in Afghanistan is 44. The Soviets invaded in '78. We are approaching a nation of people who have never known peace. They have no better alternative to war, strife, and unrest to base their perspective on. In short, they are pessimistic because they don't believe there is anything better for them.

    For those that bemoan the "nation building" aspect of Afghanistan, pull your head out. Modern warfare essentially mandates nation building. We were wed to "nation building" the second we set foot in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is something we should consider before going into a nation, not ten years after the fact.
     
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  2. Wiseacre
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    Wiseacre Retired USAF Chief Supporting Member

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    Thanks for your service. I'm with you on your assessment of the Afghan war, but I might disagree with the idea that nation building is a foregone conclusion. Nobody else does it, why should we? Look, if a country harbors terrorists, I see no problem with blowing their asses to hell without getting prior permission, like the raid that killed Bin Laden. And I see no requirement to rebuild the place either. We've done it in the past because we had the resources, and there could be long term political and strategic value in doing so, like Japan, Germany, and maybe Iraq. But I don't think we can afford it any longer unless there really is a definite payback somehow.

    As you say though, Afghanistan is a lost cause. Far as I'm concerned, we're wasting our time, money, and lives over there with no lasting positive effect. That place is going to go back to what it was 10 minutes after the last US soldier leaves, maybe not even that long. And I don't want to give 'em a damn dime going forward either.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  3. geauxtohell
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    geauxtohell Choose your weapon.

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    Because nature abhors a vacuum. When you remove the powers that be, you can't leave a void for an even worse person to fill.

    That is exactly what happened in Afghanistan after the Soviets left and Hekmatyar was able to seize power (which then allowed the Taliban to seize power).
     
  4. Wiseacre
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    Wiseacre Retired USAF Chief Supporting Member

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    I think the next US president will pull out of Afghanistan by 2016 or face the consequences from American voters. Maybe we kick in a few billion dollars in aid, but we need to be gone by then IMHO. I think our policies for boots on the ground invasions are going to have be scaled back, instead we'll shoot drone missiles up your ass.
     
  5. geauxtohell
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    geauxtohell Choose your weapon.

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    The problem is, you always have to have Infantry.

    I was under the impression that Obama has established a withdrawal timeline.

    White House: Obama Settles on Plan for Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal - FoxNews.com

    "Timelines" is another area where I think the conventional wisdom in the conservative side has it wrong too. In a conventional war, sure; it's stupid. In an insurgency/nation building, you basically have to do it. It's either that, slow bleed for the rest of your time there, or leave in the middle of the night.

    Of those three bad options, putting the nation on notice is the best of the three.
     
  6. Sallow
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    Sallow The Big Bad Wolf. Supporting Member

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    There's no good reason to be there...IMHO.

    Best to leave the Russians to deal with it.

    They want a pipeline.
     
  7. strollingbones
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    strollingbones Diamond Member

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    amazing isn't it..these backwards people have managed to fend off invasion from two world super powers....they learned from the soviets how to defend fierce weapons with very little.
     
  8. geauxtohell
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    geauxtohell Choose your weapon.

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    Oh, they knew before the Soviets came to town, bones. They learned against the Mongols, the Brits, the Russians (prior to the Soviets - The "Great Game"). The only reason Afghanistan is a recognized nation is that it is the crossroads between Asia, Europe, India, and the Middle East.

    That's it's entire utility. Ages ago, all of it's revenue was derived from tariffs on the silk road.
     
  9. ekrem
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    ekrem VIP Member

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    General Troutman in "Rambo 3" already said it to the Russians, that if they had studied Afghani history, they would've known that this war can not be won.
    Today's Americans seem to think differently - although their optimism has decreased considerably.
     
  10. geauxtohell
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    geauxtohell Choose your weapon.

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    In fairness, if we'd listened to Bernard Fall in 1960 who chronicled the French in "Indochina" we'd have stayed the hell out of Viet Nam.
     

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