I have really no idea who to cheer for about the Afghanistan peace
agreement. If the Taliban were the answer, it was a pretty fucking
But the Afghanistan peace agreement is worth a note.
The U.S. and its allies have been at it there since 2001. Nigh on two decades.
In 2008 some people were hopeful of what had been achieved.
And there’s bitter lessons on aid and development to be learned,
bitter lessons aplenty.
After two decades of pretty much futile war led by the United States,
who knows maybe Donald Trump is the first president since Nixon to
really know how to end a war, and lose gracefully in doing so.
That was a weird sentence to write.
Deep in the bowels of the Pentagon, I’m hoping for some pure career
military people who don’t give a flying fig about a job with military
companies, who will take stock of why the United States keeps losing
or drawing, over the bodies of thousands of their own people, and over
decades of damage.
First, they don’t resource the right way.
The Pentagon directs its ample budget toward purchases of complex
high-tech weapons, which are designed to fight wars against Russia and
China, rather than on cheaper and simpler weapons and training for
troops in the tactics needed for the sorts of counter-insurgency wars
the U.S. in fact fights. The Vietnamese in the 1960s and the Afghans
and Iraqis in the twenty-first century figured out simple and
inexpensive methods to circumvent high-tech American weaponry by
utilizing old weapons (most notably mines) and developed cheap new
weapons (above all IEDs) that inflicted enough casualties on Americans
to get to the next one, namely ……
Second, opposition by the American public.
Televised American casualties with flag-draped coffins on the tarmac,
form an aversion that developed as part of the growing resistance
during Vietnam and after to US aggression abroad, forces the adoption
of war strategies that limit interactions between American soldiers
and warzone civilians, reducing the possibilities of accumulating the
intelligence and local goodwill necessary for winning
counterinsurgency wars. The sharp decline in the number of U.S. war
deaths the American public considers acceptable from Vietnam to the
current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has limited the number of troops
that can be sent into combat in the first place and quickened the pace
with which they must be withdrawn or confined to rear bases.
Third, local rage.
Populations are further alienated by the U.S. government’s turn in the
twenty-first century to a form of plunder neoliberalism in the
countries it invades. For example, the U.S.-directed Coalition
Provisional Authority in Iraq refused to allow government-owned
enterprises to reopen after the invasion unless they were privatized.
In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. demanded the governments open
natural resources to exploitation by American corporations.
Such measures reduce opportunities for local elites to enrich
themselves and therefore make it almost impossible for the U.S. to
enlist reliable local allies. It also impoverishes the mass of locals
when the U.S. forces the privatization of state firms and demands
brutal cuts in government budgets, creating enough anger and
desperation to power insurgencies.
Finally, the Middle East campaigns, begun wayyy back in the Bush
administration, have put a new emphasis on the goals of expropriation
and plunder of the local societies for the benefit of its own
occupying forces — instead of any commitment to national development
it may have had previously — thereby insuring that it cannot build
support among the local population.
They lose with the wrong weapons.
They lose with local alienation.
They lose with greed.
I have nothing at all against the people of the United States and wish
all of their military service men and women the best of luck and a
peaceful, quick, and safe retirement.
But in the middle of election year, and to commemorate the Afghanistan
peace agreement signed recently, I’d like to see the next President of
the United States continuing a policy of full-on global military
Maybe after 70 years of losing or grinding out draws they could see
some sense in that.