Trump Wants To Reinvade Afghanistan. Here’s Why We’ll Lose (Again)

The Washington Post reports that President Trump wants to go after — really, really go after — the Taliban in Afghanistan:

President Trump’s most senior military and foreign policy advisers have proposed a major shift in strategy in Afghanistan that would effectively put the United States back on a war footing with the Taliban.

The new plan, which still needs the approval of the president, calls for expanding the U.S. military role as part of a broader effort to push an increasingly confident and resurgent Taliban back to the negotiating table, U.S. officials said.

The plan comes at the end of a sweeping policy review built around the president’s desire to reverse worsening security in Afghanistan and “start winning” again, said one U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

This will not, cannot work.

Give Trump’s military advisers points for clarity. Their war aim is clear:

“The review is an opportunity to send a message that, yes, the U.S. is going to send more troops, but it’s not to achieve a forever military victory,” said Andrew Wilder, an Afghanistan expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “Rather, it’s to try to bring about a negotiated end to this conflict.”

Still can’t work. Americans, American allies and Afghans are going to die for nothing. Here’s why.

I’ll spare you the Afghanistan As Graveyard of Empires argument that I’ve written about before. Yes, the Afghans beat the Brits thrice, the Russians once, and us every day since 9/11. Though the time (1842) they killed everyone in the British army except one guy is well worth reading about. A “signal catastrophe,” they called it. History repeats, especially in Afghanistan, but it isn’t predestination. Theoretically, the United States could defeat the Taliban. The reason they won’t is that they don’t have the political will to do so.

Militarily? Of course the U.S. can defeat the Taliban. The Taliban don’t have planes, long- or medium-range missiles. The U.S. can bomb the Taliban (and lots of non Talibs) to smithereens with a carpet-bombing campaign the likes of which the world has never seen before. They can drone them. They can send hundreds of thousands of highly trained and well-armed troops to invade and occupy the cities and villages and roads in between. If the U.S. declared Total War against the Taliban, if the U.S. were willing to dedicate its stunning economic and military power toward the goal of defending its puppet regime in Kabul, the Taliban would be killed and captured and driven over the mountains to Pakistan.

But that would be expensive. It wouldn’t take for very long before voters, and some journalists, began asking why the U.S. was willing to take tens of thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and willing to spend billions of dollars a week to occupy the country.

Supply lines to Afghanistan are long and difficult. There is no obvious geopolitical payoff, not one worth such a high price. At this point, the U.S.’ involvement in Afghanistan boils down to (a) let’s fuck with Iran and (b) it’s a launching pad for bombing attacks on the Tribal Areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border. Not much payoff there.

Yes, there are mineral resources. But this isn’t Iraq or Libya — natural resources aren’t coming out of the ground in significant numbers for years to come. Not that the U.S. is particularly good at looting natural resources, as we’ve seen in Iraq.

What about forcing the Taliban to negotiate? First, no one figure speaks for the whole movement. It’s a diverse alliance of tribes, ethnicities and political impulses. Second, we’ve been here before. Nixon bombed Vietnam to soften up the communists before negotiating. Bush used back channels to try to talk to the Taliban. Such efforts are fruitless against an adversary with the tactical advantages that come from fighting a guerrilla war as an indigenous. They’re local. They live there. Time is on their side. They’ll wait us out.

In the end, it’s simple cost-benefit analysis: low gain, high expense. Afghanistan just isn’t worth it.

Unfortunately, Trump and his henchmen won’t figure that out before more people have died over nothing.


7 thoughts on “Trump Wants To Reinvade Afghanistan. Here’s Why We’ll Lose (Again)

  1. The one of the greatest threats to capitalism is overproduction.

    Overproduction produces excess inventories, and when that excess occurs, further production that does not produce profits must be eliminated.

    This is why excess food is destroyed even when there are hungry people who need it; because to distribute excess production at little more than, or even below the cost of production, would diminish prices and profits.

    Excess food and excess weapons must be destroyed, or production would need to be shut down to prevent loss of profits. Food and weapons can only be sold into scarcity. Market prices can be maintained only in the face of scarcity.

    Military Keynesianism demands that industrial warfare continue, because reduction of weapon production would also mean loss of skilled weapon technologists, this being a long term security threat to the Industrial State.

    Organization disorganizes.

    War is Peace.

      • I like the shark analogy.

        I don’t like the term “Military Keynesianism” as Keynes himself was against the practice. But like many famous dead people, his name was appropriated for a concept he would have opposed. (e.g. “Marxism-Leninism”)

        “… war has always caused intense industrial activity. In the past orthodox finance has regarded a war as the only legitimate excuse for creating employment by governmental expenditure. You, Mr President, having cast off such fetters, are free to engage in the interests of peace and prosperity the technique which hitherto has only been allowed to serve the purposes of war and destruction.”

        John Maynard Keynes

      • I don’t like the term, or what the term “Military Keynesianism” refers to either.

        Keynes predicted World War II as a consequence of the Treaty of Versailles in “The Economic Consequences Of The Peace” in 1919.

        I read the book a bout 3 years ago. His logic was tight but went right over the heads of the doofuses in charge.

    • Candidate Trump said St Hillary’s plan for regime change in Syria and Russia was wrong, that peace with Syria and Russia was a much better plan. All his domestic policies were unmitigated disasters, but tax credits for coal meant death for my great-grandchildren from global warming in 100 years, while St Hillary thought she could win a war with Russia. All her advisers said regime change in Russia would be easier than regime change in Libya or Iraq. Some of us worried about St Hillary and her advisers. Fred Reed said we had a choice between Lucrezia Borgia and Ronald MacDonald.

      Now Fred Reed says we had a choice between fetor and a lunatic, but now President Trump has found his inner Hillary and has become our first transgender president.

  2. The first British-Afghan War was certainly a complete disaster for the British. They wanted a docile puppet King, and chose a very weak candidate so he would do as he was told. The entire BEF was wiped out, except for one doctor (and they also killed the King the British managed to briefly install).

    The second British-Afghan war (according to Doyle in The Scarlet Letter) ‘brought honours and promotion to many.’ The British selected a candidate for King who was almost (but not quite) strong enough to put himself on the throne, and the British provided the bit extra he needed to win and become King. After which, he wasn’t a puppet, but he did co-operate with the Brits, and Afghanistan had a long period of peace (without being a colony).

    I read Mr Rall’s 2nd book on Afghanistan (and loved it so much I lent it to a friend and never saw it again).

    Another good first-person view on Afghanistan is this one:

    (It’s safe to ignore as lies anything about Afghanistan in the MSM. The reporters go, stay in 5-star hotels surrounded by US military guards, if the hotel is actually in Afghanistan, and get their stories from their US/UK/EU government information officers.)