Afghanistan Without End. Amen.

by Bob Schwartz

It is time to stop expecting American leadership in either party, at any level, to reasonably articulate an achievable goal in Afghanistan. Either the conclusion they’ve reached is that there is none or it is too hard to tell us the inconvenient truth they have concluded.

So we are just going to have to take on the role of citizen policy analysts and do it ourselves.

We are unlikely to ever help establish an Afghan military capable or willing to hold back whatever insurgent force mortally threatens stability and national integrity.

We are unlikely to see the establishment of a stable semi-permanent semi-democracy in Afghanistan.

We are never going to “defeat” the Taliban or other similar threats in Afghanistan, in the sense of forever eliminating and precluding such evil developments.

That leaves one possibility. We are keeping troops in Afghanistan to help keep things from getting worse.

It’s a problem to admit that. First, because a military mission of stopping things from getting worse seems unending, which it well might be. Entropy tells us that things fall apart naturally unless acted upon otherwise. In Afghanistan that otherwise is us. It’s also hard to tell those who serve that the point of their sacrifice is to keep things from getting worse, rather than seeing a genuinely better future and having a defined endpoint.

But at least it would be honest. And on top of the war without end, that is an equally big problem. From the Vietnam War to today, there has been a lot of official and political obfuscation. Well, let’s call it lying. It isn’t that the policy makers don’t have noble principles in mind, such as freedom, self-determination, and the like. It’s just that the plans they put in place—very expensive plans—have practically no chance of fulfilling any of those principles.