Afghanistan Likely to Turn Ugly When We Leave


The American intelligence community has apparently now concluded what anyone with even a modest understanding of history and human nature could — and did — predict back in 2001: That when the American occupation of Afghanistan ends this year, it’s likely to descend into civil war and chaos.

U.S. intelligence agencies warn in a new, classified assessment that insurgents could quickly regain control of key areas of Afghanistan and threaten the capital as soon as 2015 if American troops are fully withdrawn next year, according to two officials familiar with the findings.

The National Intelligence Estimate, which was given recently to the White House, has deeply concerned some U.S. officials. It represents the first time the intelligence community has formally warned that the Afghan government could face significantly more serious attacks in Kabul from a resurgent Taliban within months of a U.S. pullout, the officials said, speaking anonymously to discuss classified material.

The assessment also concludes that security conditions probably will worsen regardless of whether the U.S. keeps troops in the country.

“It’s very pessimistic about the future, more pessimistic than ever before,” said one of the officials.

This is a lesson we have never learned, that you cannot impose democracy and stability at gunpoint; once you take the gun away, everything tends to revert to old patterns and disputes (because, believe it or not, those disputes don’t magically disappear when we invade a country).

Comments

  1. raven says

    Same thing happened in Iraq.

    After we left, they just started up their civil war again, Sunnis versus Shiites. Vietnam didn’t work so well either. A short time after we left, Saigon was renamed “Ho Chi Minh city.”

  2. Chiroptera says

    This is a lesson we have never learned, that you cannot impose democracy and stability at gunpoint….

    If I recall correctly, that wasn’t the point of the military action. The point was revenge for 9/11.

  3. Trebuchet says

    The headline should have read “Afghanistan likely to turn uglier…”

    And in other news, water is wet and the sun rose in the east this morning.

  4. lordshipmayhem says

    I believe the point of the Afghan invasion was to stop al Qaeda from using the training camps they had in the area, and getting rid of a hostile government (the Taliban) who gleefully hosted the organization.

    I understood from the get-go that “staying there” might become essential to prevent the group’s return.

  5. Mr Ed says

    To be fair every previous invasion of Afghanistan resulted in a golden period of peace. This is the origin of the common phrase pax Afgani.

  6. colnago80 says

    Actually, if moron Dubya, instead of invading Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11, had used the resources in Afghanistan, the Taliban would have been defeated a long time ago and our troops would have been out a long time ago.

  7. says

    when the American occupation of Afghanistan ends this year, it’s likely to descend into civil war and chaos.

    Meanwhile the news today reports that Al Quaeda has taken over Fallujah:
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/01/04/al-qaeda-iraq-fallujah-ramadi/4317125/

    So we took it from Saddam at huge cost to everyone involved and the end result is that Al Quaeda (which hardly existed pre-9/11) is now empowered and has gained enough power that it can raise a military and take territory. Way to go, USA!!! It’s going to be the same in Afghanistan – the Taliban, which will now lay claim to having defeated USSR and USA, will be the next government. Our corrupt puppet (who isn’t dancing particularly well) will not last 5 years.

  8. says

    Actually, if moron Dubya, instead of invading Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11, had used the resources in Afghanistan, the Taliban would have been defeated a long time ago and our troops would have been out a long time ago.

    The problem with places like Afghanistan isn’t defeating them, so you’re rather missing the point. That’s easy. The problem is producing lasting change. And that’s a bit trickier.

    It’s especially tricky to win the war of hearts and minds when you install a corrupt puppet government, try to obliterate their farmers’ #1 cash crop, stalk their skies with robotic killing machines, occasionally helicopter special forces kill-teams into their villages to snatch or slay, and call in massive artillery strikes against anyone who may be resisting. To top it off, insult the locals’ intelligence by engaging in public works projects designed to enrich corporate sponsors (i.e.: build paved roads and Pizza Huts) and send missionaries. It’s an update of the same strategy that worked so spectacularly badly in Vietnam, Algeria, and Iraq.

    Afghanistan is a special place only in that it already had an insurgency (Taliban VS ‘Northern alliance’) in place when we went in there. So we didn’t even have a chance to start with something and screw it up; it was screwed up to begin with.

  9. laurentweppe says

    It’s an update of the same strategy that worked so spectacularly badly in Vietnam, Algeria, and Iraq

    That was not the strategy that was used in Algeria: when Algeria was invaded, french troops slaughtered one third of the population, raped the rest, plundered everything they could, and established a ruling settler aristocracy whose members kept raping and enslaving the locals, keeping them subdued with the threat of genocide for 130 years, until the Second World War crippled the military and rendered obsolete the genocidal option.

  10. k_machine says

    It’s not that you can’t export democracy at gunpoint – it’s just that the US never had any intention of doing so. There was the fiasco of when there was an attempt to shift the illegal growing of Afghan opium to the legal market (for painkillers) that was blocked by the west because they didn’t want the competition. So poor Afghans have little means of earning a living besides opium growing. The US easily could have pushed this through if they wanted, but were 10+ years in and Afghans are still pleading for the basic necessities of life. Maybe it’s not incompetence, maybe it is active malice. The situation was similar in Vietnam where the US couldn’t find a South Vietnamese leader that was both uncorrupted and wanted an alliance with the US. The Vietnamese were dragged bloody across the jagged cliffs for the entire war because of that. An empowered Afghan civil society would ask the US to get out the first thing (NGO potekim projects notwithstanding.

    When considering the Afghan plight, one must remember that the Afghan state is working exactly as intended. It is not supposed to function without the presence of a powerful outsider force. Afghanistan was created by the British, in a long line of unstable states (Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Africa etc) created by colonial powers where a minority is put into power (pashtus in Afghanistan) and made dependent on outside forces.

  11. k_machine says

    Now let me be clear: yes the Taliban are terrible, and no the US doesn’t care (the US is happy to sell billions on arms to the Taliban sugar daddies in Saudi Arabia.

  12. laurentweppe says

    It’s an update of the same strategy that worked so spectacularly badly in Vietnam, Algeria, and Iraq

    That was not the strategy that was used in Algeria: when Algeria was invaded, french troops slaughtered one third of the population, raped the rest, plundered everything they could, and established a ruling settler aristocracy whose members kept raping and enslaving the locals, keeping them subdued with the threat of genocide for 130 years, until the Second World War crippled the military and rendered obsolete the genocidal option.

    Of course, Algeria was never about spreading Democracy: it was pure Raubwirtschaft, and aknowledged as such at least until its independence, at which point the colonial empire’s nostalgics tried to rewrite history.

  13. Al Dente says

    Afghanistan has always resisted invaders of every stripe. During the 19th Century the British, experienced at conquering the wogs, tried several times to subdue Afghanistan. They failed. The Russians and the Soviets tried to conquer Afghanistan. They failed. The Americans are showing the British, Russian and Soviet failures were not just flukes. The last time Afghanistan was successfully invaded was in 330 BCE by Alexander the Great. Incidentally it took Alexander only six months to conquer Persia but it took him over three years to conquer Afghanistan.

    The Afghan hill people are fiercely independent. The tribes have been fighting each other for centuries and the only thing that’ll bring cooperation is foreign invasion. When the Americans stop trying to control Afghanistan then the tribal feuds and petty wars will start up again.

  14. laurentweppe says

    The last time Afghanistan was successfully invaded was in 330 BCE by Alexander the Great. Incidentally it took Alexander only six months to conquer Persia but it took him over three years to conquer Afghanistan.

    Genghis Khan tried, and succeded in three weeks.

  15. Carlos Cabanita says

    Export democracy at gunpoint? (Said with the voice of Jim Morrison asking: “Petition the Lord with prayer?”).
    You cannot export democracy at gunpoint!
    The USA never even tried to export democracy to Iraq or Afghanistan. The whole point of their policy was control.
    If democracy was their objective, they would have done very, very different things.
    That concept about exporting democracy was only for homeland propaganda.
    I should be laughing bitterly about this, but I can’t, thinking of the hundreds of thousands dead, the millions displaced, the millions of lives ruined.
    Besides, I had the privilege of living my childhood under a fascist dictatorship that was a full member of NATO and an ally of the US, Portugal. People in the US believe the strangest things.

  16. mikeyb says

    So in the end when hundreds and thousands of American soldiers are killed and maimed, not to mention the order of magnitude larger numbers of Afghani’s, not to mention the billions of dollars spent, what is the end result? We go back to the Afghanistan of the Taliban or when the Russians left? In the end not a fucking thing has been gained or learned, with all the horrendous useless tragedy as usual.

  17. Al Dente says

    laurentweppe @18

    Genghis Khan tried, and succeded in three weeks.

    That was a raid, not an attempt to conquer Afghanistan. However in 1385 Timur, the Turko-Mongol leader of Transoxiana (roughly modern-day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) and founder of the Timurid dynasty, conquered Afghanistan. After the end of the Timurid Empire in 1506, the Mughal Empire was later established in 1526 in Afghanistan and India by Babur, who was a descendant of Timur through his father and possibly a descendant of Genghis Khan through his mother.

    So I was wrong. Afghanistan was conquered after 330 BCE.

  18. says

    @20:

    Not entirely true. We have helped to arm and fund the enemy as well as making their recruitment efforts go turbo; so, that’s changed.

    Most people I talk to think we should never, ever get involved outside our own borders or that we should simply do EXACTLY what we want and kill all of the motherfuckers. It’s pretty obvious, given our history, that neither of those extremes are utile.

  19. says

    In the end not a fucking thing has been gained or learned, with all the horrendous useless tragedy as usual.

    There are two amazing facts about war:
    1) Often, things return to the same state as they were before the war
    2) People put up with it

  20. felidae says

    I distinctly remember, about ten years ago, a skinny black woman on TV told me that “the Taliban have been defeated” Then her boss came on and said “the Taliban was out of bidness” What the fuck happened–were they lying, deluded or misinformed? Or did some policy shift cause this failure of this assertion?

  21. mobius says

    I think your title should have been slightly different.

    “Afghanistan Likely to Turn UGLIER When We Leave”

    Because things are already ugly there.

  22. iangould says

    The logical inference from this is tht we should defer leaving as long as possible.

    But fuck it, they’re only sand niggers.

    Offneded by that statmeent?

    Take away the weasel words and it’s what Ed and most of the posters here are saying.

  23. Artor says

    iangould, you are so full of shit, it’s leaking out your orifices. Try reading for comprehension. That’s neither what Ed wrote, nor what a single one of the commenters wrote, except for you.

  24. Nathair says

    So in the end when hundreds and thousands of American soldiers are killed and maimed, not to mention the order of magnitude larger numbers of Afghani’s

    Not to mention all the dead and broken Brits, Canadians, French, Germans, Italians…

    Sometimes it gets tedious having to remind Americans that the rest of the world exists.

  25. says

    Offneded by that statmeent?

    I’d have to take you seriously, to be offended. Your accusation is wrong (another reason it’s not offensive; it’d have to be true) You manage at best to be annoying.

  26. Trebuchet says

    @25: See my post #3.

    @28: You left out the Russians (and their cannon fodder from other USSR “republics”.)

  27. says

    MikeyB @20:
    ” In the end not a fucking thing has been gained…” Have to disagree with you on that one. The Military Industrial Complex gained several billions of dollars.
    Oh! You mean in a make-the-world-a-better-place sense. Have to agree with you there.

  28. says

    Meanwhile the news today reports that Al Qaeda has taken over Fallujah…

    …and John McCain and at least one other prominent Republican promptly issued a statement blaming Obama.

  29. says

    …it’s likely to descend into civil war and chaos.

    “Descend?” It’s been down there since the Soviets staged that stupid-assed coup in 1978.

  30. says

    What the fuck happened–were they lying, deluded or misinformed?

    “Or” is so limiting. I like “and” better. Because I’m Proud to Be an American and Americans don’t do limits nosireebob.

  31. TxSkeptic says

    Have you ever stepped in to break up a fight between mortal enemies? First thing that happens is that BOTH of them turn on you and beat you up until you abandon the effort. Second thing … their fight resumes.

  32. Doug Little says

    eoraptor @33,

    Absolutely. The American military machine needs to be fed once in a while otherwise it shrinks.

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