Thursday, April 27, 2017

Let's Wage Afghan War 1.45 Before it Becomes Afghan War 2.0

Yes, focusing on ISIL and al Qaeda in Afghanistan is an overly narrow view of the problem when the Taliban are the big threat to Afghanistan's stability:

To Afghan and other critics of President Donald Trump's apparent indecision over how to win a seemingly intractable war, Friday's assault - the worse of its kind since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 - was evidence he was getting it wrong.

"The biggest threat to the security and stability of this country is the Taliban insurgents, not Daesh forces," said Mirwais Yasini, an influential Afghan member of parliament from Nangarhar province, using an Arabic term for Islamic State.

"You drop your biggest bomb on Daesh, but what about the Taliban who kill dozens of our people every day?"

I agree. And I agreed a year ago when I noted President Obama's decision to avoid winning a seemingly intractable war by focusing on "counter-terrorism" as if that was the whole universe of Afghanistan's security problems was a problem.

This policy confusion didn't originate with the current administration.

Mind you, eventually the article author gets to the origins of "Trump's" indecision three months into his administration:

In the final years of former U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, American troops in Afghanistan were discouraged from directly targeting the Taliban, amid hopes the group could be brought to the negotiating table for peace talks.

"The Obama administration was very much existing in a parallel universe where if you don't call the Taliban terrorists then there's a chance you can reconcile with them," said Ioannis Koskinas, senior fellow with think-tank New America.

Narrowing the scope of the Afghanistan campaign (no "mission accomplished" moment--just a "honey, I shrunk the mission" slight of hand) justified for the Obama administration a dramatic reduction in the American effort in Afghanistan. Only the enemy rise Phoenix-like in Iraq after we pulled out interrupted a similar trajectory in Afghanistan.

America defined away the majority of our enemies in Afghanistan and they didn't go along. It would be nice to help Afghans defeat the threats while Afghans are capable of fighting the threats.

Or was 2014 in Iraq which led to Iraq War 2.0 so much fun that we want to go on that ride again?

UPDATE: Yeah, I'm worried about the current fighting season in Afghanistan.