The Path to Defeat in Afghanistan
After the terrorist attack in 2001, the United States quickly disposed of radical regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and severely restricted the spread of Iranian influence across the Middle East. But as we wrote in November 2003, this would be a long and difficult war—and one the United States would eventually lose.
Today, after 11 years of war against radical Islam, American losses are now piling high.
Earlier this month, the New York Times featured a detailed story that essentially summarized Iran’s decade-long conquest of Iraq. Back in 2003, the Times wrote, Iran saw the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein as a “golden opportunity” to become the dominant force in the region. It enabled the Quds Force, led by General Qassim Suleimani, to wage its own war in Iraq—a shadowy conflict aimed at bogging down American forces and ultimately pressuring them to leave. While this was happening, Suleimani was simultaneously working to build political alliances with Iraq’s top politicians.
That brings us to where we are today, now that Saddam Hussein and U.S. forces are long gone. We are where we said we would be as far back as 1994: Iran is now king in Iraq.
America is following a similar path in Afghanistan.
Its invasion of that country was also a lopsided conflict at the start. It only took a few weeks for the U.S.-led offensive to smash the Taliban infrastructure and send its leaders running for cover in Pakistan. But by 2006, with America preoccupied in Iraq, the Taliban had re-emerged from the hills and surprised U.S. forces with a major counterattack.
By 2007, U.S. commanders in Afghanistan were pleading for Washington to send reinforcements. But then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen told them there was “nothing on the shelf for Afghanistan.” American forces had been spread too thin. The focus of attention was on the “surge” in Iraq.
In 2009, following through on promises made during the presidential campaign, President Obama shifted attention away from Iraq and sent an additional 33,000 troops to Afghanistan. Since the so-called Obama surge in Afghanistan, however, there has been a dramatic rise in U.S. casualties. Of the 2,141 U.S. service members that have been killed in Afghanistan, about 70 percent of them have died on Mr. Obama’s watch.
Of greater concern than this upsurge in violence is the alarming increase of “green on blue” attacks. This year there have been more than 30 attacks on coalition forces by their Afghan “partners.” It’s gotten so bad that U.S. forces now carry weapons at all times—even while on base—to protect themselves from people who are supposed to be on their side.
Despite these many setbacks, however, the Obama administration has been actively peddling the “mission accomplished” theme when it comes to Afghanistan. During the vice presidential debate two weeks ago, for example, Joe Biden said America’s primary objective in Afghanistan is “almost completed.”
President Obama takes it much further than that. America has “blunted the Taliban’s momentum” and al Qaeda is on the “path to defeat,” he repeatedly says on the campaign trail.
But according to cbs reporter Lara Logan, the administration is misleading the American people with this “major lie” in order to justify the U.S. exit strategy. During a 60 Minutes episode on September 30, Logan interviewed Gen. John Allen, the commanding officer of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a Taliban commander who had been trained by al Qaeda. All of them said al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are now returning to Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is definitely “on the run,” as President Obama has repeatedly stated. But they’re not running from American forces—they are instead rushing to fill the power void left by a superpower that has spent its strength in vain.
Back in 2002, not long after U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan, President Bush assured the American people that the war against terrorism would not end “until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
But that was at the very beginning of what has since turned into the longest war in U.S. history.
“We’ve been in this war for over a decade,” Vice President Biden said during the debate, just before he stated that America was very near to the point of completing its objective.
“After a decade of war,” White House press secretary Jay Carney adds, “it is time to wind down that war and to gradually transfer security responsibility to Afghanistan” (emphasis added throughout).
In other words, it’s been a long and difficult struggle—and most Americans have grown tired of fighting an unwinnable war. So America’s leaders have responded by declaring victory so they can finalize an exit strategy.
Even President Obama’s political opponent on the right is actively promoting the “mission accomplished” propaganda. At the presidential debate on Monday night, Governor Romney said, “We’ve seen progress over the past several years. The surge has been successful, and the training program is proceeding at pace. There are now a large number of Afghan security forces—350,000—that are ready to step in to provide security and we’re going to be able to make that transition by the end of 2014.”
Prior to that debate, the Romney camp had often blasted the Obama administration for telegraphing its timeline to the Taliban by announcing a withdrawal date publicly. But on Monday, Mr. Romney emphatically told America’s enemies that if he becomes president, he’s definitely sticking to the 2014 timetable.
Just like his friends on the left, he’s been lulled into believing that the greatest dangers facing America are now in the past. As Lara Logan said during a speech in Chicago the week after her 60 Minutes report aired, American leaders are not listening to what their enemies are saying about this war.
In their arrogance, U.S. leaders think they write the script—and they have now decided that America won. In fact, Logan says, “After 11 years of war in Afghanistan, where we are surrendering—rushing for the exits as fast as we can—not only do we not dictate the terms, but we have less power to dictate anything on the world stage.”
In other words, it is the United States of America—not al Qaeda or any other terrorist group—that is on the path to defeat.