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How America lost Afghanistan

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Topic: How America lost Afghanistan
Posted By: MateenK
Subject: How America lost Afghanistan
Date Posted: 08-Mar-2017 at 9:04am

How America lost Afghanistan

Some 16 years in, the war in Afghanistan is the longest in the history of The United States. It is also our most disproportionately ignored, and — with a new president in office after an election in which Afghanistan was barely mentioned — perhaps our most uncertain major intervention going forward.
Defense Secretary James Mattis will soon present President Trump with a recommendation for the future of U.S.-Afghan engagement. The nature of his proposal is difficult to predict, pressured as it is by a Pentagon eager for fresh escalation and a president whose decrial of nation-building and labeling of the war "a total and complete disaster" has never been accompanied by a concrete exit plan. Of course, whatever policy Trump selects will have its greatest impact outside of Washington — on American soldiers tasked with what has devolved into a self-perpetuating nation-building endeavor, and on the American people, who have long since soured on a conflict most no longer believe was worth its costs.
For insight into the shape of the war so far and its prospects under the Trump administration, I spoke with Douglas Wissing, an award-winning journalist who is most recently the author of Hopeless but Optimistic: Journeying through America's Endless War in Afghanistan. Here's a lightly edited, partial transcript.
Hopeless but Optimistic is the result of three stints embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The portrait you paint is significantly one of waste, corruption, and frustration, so for readers who may not be familiar with your book, will you share the source of the title — and especially the source of your optimism despite that grim assessment?
[Let's] work our way through the hopeless part and then get to the optimistic part.
Hopeless but Optimistic is my second book on the war in Afghanistan. My first one was Funding the Enemy: How U.S. Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban. I was embedded with U.S. soldiers, and they began telling me that we were essentially funding both sides of the war, that the counterinsurgency was so messed up and so dysfunctional that essentially everybody was running their wars on our money. We'd be riding around out in Taliban country in these armored vehicles with machine gunners on top and the soldiers would be saying, "We're funding both sides here."
One really smart intelligence officer one day in Laghman Province, he was on an embattled forward operating base and he clearly had been up all night. We were standing outside and he started telling me that he had been a narcotics detective in Las Vegas. "You know, this war is just like the Mafia. It's just like Las Vegas, you know. Everybody gets their cut," he said. "It's the perfect war. Everybody makes money."
I took that and started talking to more officers and began to learn about things like how our money helps finance the Taliban. I started doing hundreds of interviews with everybody from security soldiers who had been on the ground to generals and ambassadors and congresspeople, and I began to understand that there was this toxic network that connected ambitious American careerists who profit on military development and industrial development corporations, corrupt Afghan insiders, and the Taliban. It was as the soldier said: It was the perfect war. Everybody was making money. Everybody was benefiting — everyone, of course, but the American taxpayers and the Afghan people.
I confess at this point I'm struggling more than ever to see where the optimism comes in.
Well, in the first book, Funding the Enemy, I told that story — and at the time I was writing that book it was a pretty controversial thing to say that we were losing the war and we were losing the war because the enemy was us. The reality was, the cost of these two post-9/11 wars is probably about $5 trillion, and we had failed to accomplish our strategic, diplomatic, and military goals.
After the first book created a stir, I decided I wanted to embed for the third time in Afghanistan, to go through the war zones again and find out if there were any lessons learned. People understood that things were not going correctly. So I went back to find out, "Had things changed?"
The answer was no, it hadn't. By the time I got back to Kabul after going through the war zones, I saw how badly counterinsurgency was continuing to go. So I decided that I needed to find something that had worked in Afghanistan.
http://theweek.com/articles/682367/how-america-lost-afghanistan" rel="nofollow - http://theweek.com/articles/682367/how-america-lost-afghanistan



Replies:
Posted By: MateenK
Date Posted: 08-Mar-2017 at 10:02am
Corrupt Afghan insiders?
 
What does this mean, even before 911 all these insiders used to have million dollar homes and drive expensive European cars, what an insult to these wonderful individuals that saved American tax payers billions of dollars and build Afghanistan’s economy and put their lives in danger and live modestly in mud huts and ride donkeys in Afghanistan!



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