Sunday, July 12, 2009

A consensus is forming that Afghanistan is unwinnable

Debka File and Juan Cole, each with slightly different reasoning, do not see victory as possible for NATO in Afganistan.


The approximately 60,000 NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan are unable to achieve the goals of the war - even with the additional 21,000 US combat troops promised this year and "the big jump in the size of Afghan security forces" demanded by the new US commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

DEBKAfile's military analysts see no real corroboration for the UK Chief of Defense Staff Sir Jock Stirrup's assertion that the Taliban is "losing" in Afghanistan and "real governance" is emerging in Afghanistan.

Juan Cole:

US commanders are now thinking Afghanistan may need 270,000 soldiers to keep internal peace, not just the 134,000 that NATO is now committed to training. The goal might be 400,000 police and army altogether. Not only would the training and standing up of such a massive force cost rather more than the some $7.5 bn. a year the Obama administration had budgeted for Afghanistan, it is hard to see how the Afghan government could afford such a huge security force. It would likely cost several billion dollars a year to maintain, and Afghanistan's whole annual budget is only a little over a billion dollars a year (the gross domestic product is only $9 bn., and a third of that is probably from poppies made into heroin.) These plans doom Afghanistan to be a welfare queen in the world community for decades, and they also risk throwing the country into more violence, not less, since its fractious tribespeople have never dealt well with having a strong central government (Afghanistan is not like Iraq, folks).

It is becoming the conventional wisdom that Afghanistan is going to be a sink of resources for the US as it was for Russia. Unlike in the case of the USSR, it will not be enough to push the entire system over the edge into inviability, but it will impose a substantial cost on the US economy.

I have nothing to add except that the reason the US is wasting these resources in Afghanistan is that many Muslims have been outraged to the point of supporting violence against Americans by US policies intended to ensure the safety of Israel.

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