Unwinnable

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I’m not going to fisk this entire article at the New York Times, especially since I may agree with its conclusion. However, as my old business partner used to say, I may agree with what you say but I will deny to the death your right to say it. Consider, for example, this passage:

All options involve acknowledging the war as failed, American aims as largely unachievable and Afghanistan’s future as only partly salvageable. Their advocates see glimmers of hope barely worth the stomach-turning trade-offs and slim odds of success.

“I don’t think there is any serious analyst of the situation in Afghanistan who believes that the war is winnable,” Laurel Miller, a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, said in a podcast last summer, after leaving her State Department stint as acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“No True Scotsman” watch! Also, compare and contrast:

September 5, 2015

The United States is committed to helping Afghanistan achieve enduring stability. We are pleased that so many of our partners have gathered here in Kabul to engage in this constructive conversation and show our collective support for Afghanistan’s stability, security and prosperity.

Together with others in the international community, the United States will continue to be a strong partner of the Afghan government, especially as it works to address daunting security and economic challenges. In recognition of the significance that Afghanistan continues to have on the international stage, the United States, in furtherance of our partnership with Afghanistan, will co-host with China and Afghanistan a high-level event on the margins of the UN General Assembly later this month. As one example of our continued extraordinary practical support for promoting Afghan prosperity, and following Afghan achievement of agreed-upon development results, we recently authorized the disbursement of the first $100 million in funding under the New Development Partnership announced by the White House during President Ghani’s visit to Washington.

The agreement we’ve reached today on a refreshed mutual accountability framework is a significant milestone in all of our relationships with Afghanistan. We are optimistic that this agreement will enable other donors to move ahead with incentive programs grounded in Afghan priorities. We congratulate the Afghan government for the progress it has made since the political transition last September and welcome the government’s report on its progress.

Afghanistan’s government of national unity, led by President Ghani with the support of Chief Executive Abdullah, has made progress in key areas over the past year: from government appointments and anti-corruption initiatives, to the establishment of the Special Electoral Reform Commission. We urge all stakeholders—domestic and international—to work together to ensure implementation of crucial reforms. The next round of polls should follow a meaningful and transparent reform process.

Read the whole statement at the web site of the U. S. State Department and weep.

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Ms. Miller, when did you become a “serious analyst”? Obviously you weren’t one by your own definition on September 5, 2015. What developments since that time caused you to become serious?

Or this:

This may be why, even after thousands have died and over $100 billion has been spent, even after the past two weeks of shocking bloodshed in Kabul, few expect the United States to try anything other than the status quo.

From fiscal year 2009 to FY 2016 the U. S. spent upwards of $600 billion and incurred the greatest number of U. S. casualties in Afghanistan. Since then it has spent $5.7 billion. When did the NYT become cost conscious?

Or this:

Over time, ideally, Afghans might develop a functioning economy, then something like real democracy and, finally, peace and stability.

“But what we know from other cases is that this takes generations,” Ms. Brown said. “So the 18-month time frames we’ve always had for Afghanistan are not realistic.”

That’s what I said in 2002 as did any number of other genuinely serious analysts with credentials and everything. When did the NYT come to this realization? It must have been within the last year.

I just can’t fathom that level of cynicism.

Originally published at The Glittering Eye.

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