Just a few billion dollars more to go before we can claim the t-shirt.
That is just one of the several cliches that come to mind when reading a paper circulating NTM-A by Mr. Lester W. Grau. Like “One Tribe at a Time,” Breaking Contact Without Leaving Chaos: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan is an easy and enlightening “must read” for anyone that has any interest in the U.S. and NATO involvement in Afghanistan.
Some random musings. . .
I never thought of the coalition in Afghanistan as occupiers. But the Soviets were in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 and were called occupiers with a force of 100,300. With the U.S. and coalition troops have been in Afghanistan since 2001 with 130,000 troops in country–it’s tough to call us anything other than occupiers.
Even though we’ve been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviets, I still don’t think of us as occupiers. I’m fairly certain Hamid Karzai is not ‘our man’, but the coalition does support his election (even if of questionable validity: The Telegraph, The Washington Times, and CNN). Regardless, I recognize the apparent duplicity of thinking that our presence here is something different than an occupation.
The Soviets trained, armed, and built an army; We are training, arming, and building an army.
The Soviets put in place political leaders that supported their objectives; We are supporting political leaders (although I’m not sure that they all support our objectives).
The Soviets built schools, hospitals, roads, and infrastructure; We are building. . . well, you get the idea.
The Soviets withdrew physically and then crumbled effectively withdrawing support. The supported government fell shortly thereafter and Afghanistan erupted into a bloody civil war.
I have no personal interest or affection for Afghanistan and think we are wasting billions of dollars and thousands of lives by being here. But when we leave, I hope it doesn’t crumble into another civil war.
To paraphrase the movie Charlie Wilson’s War, I hope we don’t screw-up the end-game.