Moving to a “Support Role” in Afghanistan

President Obama announced today, after meeting with Afghan President (or as I think of him, Kabul Mayor) Hamid Karzai, that our troops will move to a support role in the spring.

He didn’t announce troop levels either between now and the end of 2014, when the war is supposed to end, or beyond 2014, when we may leave a lower level of troops under a new bilateral agreement.

Obviously our troops, currently at 66,000, are in less danger if they play a support role, but I’d still like to get them the hell out of there ASAP.  Even if our government were running a surplus, I still wouldn’t want to waste any more American lives and healthy brains and limbs on this hopeless effort.

Forget the counter insurgency.  That requires a strong, stable central government, which Afghanistan still doesn’t have despite our decade of sacrifice.  Focus on counter terrorism.  That requires drones and special forces, which we have in abundance.

After 9/11, we kicked out Al Qaeda in a few months, without a lot of ground troops.  We can do it again if we have to — and again and again.But the Taliban isn’t interested in coming after us, they just want to run Afghanistan, so they have no reason to let Al Qaeda have the safe haven they did before.  Lessons learned all around.

We have to let Afghanistan go back to the war lords and the poppy growers.  The Pashtuns will support the Taliban and the non-Pashtuns will fight them.  And we will go after Al Qaeda wherever they are.

Best Piece on Afghanistan In Ages, Maybe Ever

Every American of every political persuasion should must Ralph Peters’ “Soldiers Murder Afghans, General Murders Soldiers,” at Real Clear Politics.

Here are some excerpts, but please read the whole thing and pass it on:

“It [the murder of 16 Afghan civilians] was the brutal act of a veteran who cracked.  The deed cannot be excused.  But I believe it can be explained.

“We shouldn’t be surprised that this happened.  We should be surprised that it hasn’t happened sooner and more often:  The shock of this incident after a decade of hopeless, meandering efforts that have thrown away the lives and limbs of our troops while ambitious generals lie about progress, seek promotion, and engage in military masturbation is actually a tribute to our men and women in uniform….

“If there’s a ‘battle cry’ in Afghanistan, it’s ‘Blame the troops!’  Generals out of touch with the ugly, brute reality on the ground down in the Taliban-sympathizing villages respond to every seeming crisis in Afghan-American relations by telling our troops to ‘respect Afghan culture.’

But generals don’t have a clue about Afghan ‘culture.’  They interact with well-educated, privileged, English-speaking Afghans who know exactly which American buttons to press to keep the tens of billions of dollars in annual aid flowing.  The troops, on the other hand, daily encounter villagers who will not warn them about Taliban-planted booby traps or roadside bombs, who obviously want them to leave, who relish the abject squalor in which they live and who appear to value the lives of their animals above those of their women.  When our Soldiers and Marines hear, yet again, that they need to ‘respect Afghan culture,’ they must want to puke up their rations.

“The problem in Afghanistan isn’t that we haven’t tried, but that the Afghans are not interested in fighting for the exuberantly corrupt Karzai regime. … Meanwhile, despite repeated claims that the Taliban is on its last legs, the religious fanatics remain the home team backed by Afghanistan’s Pashtun majority.  (If the people didn’t back them, the Taliban would, indeed, have been long gone — we need to face reality.

In war, soldiers die.  But they shouldn’t die for bullshit.”  Emphasis added.

This is the truth —  unwelcome and unvarnished.  Maybe the tragedy of the Bales’ massacre will get us to face it, at the Pentagon, in the White House, on the Hill, and in the GOP presidential campaigns.