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Bring them home

The sooner we get out of Afghanistan, the better.

Not a single legitimate national interest is served by our continued presence there. The recent atrocity at Fort Hood should, if nothing else, demonstrate the idiocy of “fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here”.

The only stakeholders who benefit from continuing the war are military contractors — and, outrageously, the Taliban, who now collect by some estimates up to a billion American taxpayer dollars a year in protection money.

This isn’t an Obama thing; this Chicago-style graft has been part of the way things are done in Afghanistan since we invaded eight years ago.

The extortion money is paid by local contractors hired by the US military and Western aid agencies to deliver supplies and equipment along dangerous overland routes controlled by the Taliban. The price for leaving convoys alone is tacked onto invoices, which adds up to 20% to the cost of doing business in Afghanistan.

Stop and think about that. The best-trained, best-financed, best-equipped soldiers in the world depend on bribes paid to the Taliban for the supplies they need to fight the Taliban.

And is it crazy to think that the money the Taliban earns from its protection scheme might be paying for the stuff they use to kill American soldiers?

We’re not fighting a nation-state, we’re at war with “terror” — a tactic. The Taliban are cockroaches in a tenement. Spray here, they scuttle next door. Spray there, they move downstairs. Time is on their side; death is no deterrent and they don’t fit strategy around political campaigns.

Military occupation won’t bring the country under control. For most people, behavior serves rational self-interest. In Afghanistan, rational self-interest means living for the day that the US leaves and the Taliban returns to exact revenge on collaborators.

Now, there is a plan to achieve “victory” as it’s been defined by neocons, but no American president will ever adopt it. Very simply, to win, we must do to Afghanistan what William Tecumseh Sherman did to the Confederacy in 1864 — burn a murderous swath across that unforgiving land until its people are more afraid of us than they are of the Taliban.

Until that day, which will never come (nor should it!), there is no hope of victory in Afghanistan.

The best — or, more accurately, the least worst — solution for the United States is to grit our collective teeth and get out. Delaying only makes the ultimate end more painful and humiliating.

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