The United States government is facing defeat in Afghanistan. But that is not a bad thing in comparison to the alternative: waging war for another decade.
There will be repercussions from the coming defeat. In Afghanistan, perhaps a renewed civil war. In the US and NATO, continued immunity for national-security elites from the consequences of their terrible judgments. A crippling political debate at home over “who lost Afghanistan?” And a cloud of confused depression for Americans who sent their sons and daughters into “the good war.”
An excellent account of the terminal crisis is a New Yorker article by Dexter Filkins, the best American correspondent in Afghanistan for the past decade. As a journalist close to Afghanistan’s people, however, Filkins cannot bear the consequences of actually getting out. He is not alone. No one in the mainstream media ever has called for total withdrawal Afghanistan. And so there is a real danger, as there was in “South Vietnam,” of the US lingering until the crashing defeat of the whole operation can be blamed on those who wouldn’t “stay the course.” As a result of never being held accountable for Vietnam, the current official US Army-Marine war-fighting manual even revives the phoenix of Operation Phoenix itself, the 1960s counterinsurgency program that was terminated amidst accusations of torture and tiger cages. The basic objective of our government and military elites – not to mention Wall Street – seems to be to prove our predominance, and never to retreat.