Finding the Exit Door in Afghanistan
06/09/2011 Earlier this year we published a key interview with a French officer with extensive Afghan experience. His discussion and formulas remain compelling.
An excerpt from the interview underscores what recent reports about the Afghan situation issued by the U.S .government simply highlight; investing in a country without a viable central government and hoping that trained security forces for a central government is a path for a pyrrhic victory.
With contributions from folks like Senator McCain and Secretary Gates suggesting no exit strategy at all, and Gates calling for joint bases in Afghanistan forever, one has to scratch one’s head.
We are part of the problem. The political model is wrong. We need to return to 2002 where we had more limited and realistic objectives in a certain sense. We are seeking to build too large of an army and too large of a police force to support a model of government, which cannot be sustained. By the way, who is going to invade Afghanistan after we leave? We are building unstable equilibrium, not stability. It looks like it could stand but any kind of disturbances tend to bring the system down, and we need to spend a lot of energy – blood, toil, sweat and money – to maintain it.
The political model is wrong. We need to return to 2002 where we had more limited and realistic objectives in a certain sense. We are seeking to build too large of an army and too large of a police force to support a model of government, which cannot be sustained.
We should have declared victory in Afghanistan at the end of 2001, after a regime that was oppressing its own people, lying to the world and supporting terrorism collapsed under our joint military action. On the other hand, what was called the “war on terror” goes on and this is not a kind of struggle that ends with a statement.
On the Afghan battlefield, better than declaring victory we must acknowledge mistakes. There is a Nation over there with several ethnic groups used to live together on the same land for centuries. The so-called State building went wrong.
The central government should be no more than a clearinghouse for development. We should not build up the power of the President to become a dictator for the country.