Boy have I been wrong about Afghanistan the past 15 years. I thought it was part of the Forever Wars. A war that we happily allowed U.S. elected officials and DOD personnel to lie about. If you haven't read the Washington Post's Afghanistan Papers, you either know we've been had or you don't give a shit. Here's a sample of the main finding or headings in the Afghanistan Papers:
Year after year, U.S. officials failed to tell the public the truth about the war in Afghanistan.
U.S. and allied officials admitted the mission had no clear strategy and poorly defined objectives.
Many years into the war, the United States still did not understand Afghanistan.
The United States wasted vast sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan and bred corruption in the process.
Well, thankfully, Elliot Obi-Wan Ackerman, writing in the New York Times, has set me straight. This is not the war you're looking for. This war is over.
Ackerman wants us to realize that we're not fighting a war in Afghanistan, we're "securing a tenuous peace." According to Ackerman, we incorrectly look at the false metric of bringing all the troops home as the final prerequisite for declaring a war over. Just look at Europe after World War II and South Korea after the Korean War. We've kept large numbers of troops in both regions to maintain stability. It's the same in Afghanistan, where our troops are assuring U.S. interests. Ackerman also points out that more U.S. troops die in training accidents than they do in Afghanistan.
He [Biden] should emphasize how our presence in Afghanistan stabilizes the region and assures U.S. interests abroad. He should also then explain that conditions for our forces in Afghanistan have changed over the years, that the work these troops are doing is different than the aggressive combat operations that characterized their presence a decade ago, thus announcing what so many already know: For us the war has all but ended.
That is some next level re-branding. Strong is the neocon in this one.
How many places have we got deployed U.S. troops who are engaged in combat or assisting with combat operations and training? Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, parts of North Africa? I'm sure I'm missing a few.
I have friends who are very concerned about the violent, expansionist plans of two of America's long-time rivals. I don't know much about either of those places, my friends might be right. But I never get very satisfying responses when I ask them to explain what it means, then, that we invade more countries and drop more bombs than any other country I can think of. It's different. We're there to help. Ours are legal, just ask the UN. [Obviously, those aren't direct quotes.]