Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 22, 2012

The Retreat From Afghanistan

The green on blue attacks in Afghanistan led to the collapse of the exit strategy in Afghanistan. Joint operations with Afghan forces on the most important lower level are halted. This and the recent audacious Taliban attack on the joined British U.S. Camp Bastion have changed the mind of even the most hawkish U.S. politicians
“I think all options ought to be considered, including whether we have to just withdraw early, rather than have a continued bloodletting that won’t succeed,” [Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)] said Wednesday.
Mc Cain was joined by on of the leading warmongers in the House:
[Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., who chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, ] is the longest-serving Republican member of Congress, and he has continuously voted against troop drawbacks from Afghanistan, or even for setting a timetable for troop withdrawal. But after Sitton’s death, Young noted a change of heart.

“I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can,” Young told the Tampa Bay Times this week. “I just think we’re killing kids that don’t need to die.”

With even the hawks calling for an early withdrawal I expect the Obama administration to reveal its plan for an accelerated retreat from Afghanistan immediately after the November election. The implementation of such a plan will face some difficulties.

The administration has burned the bridges to a negotiated solution in Afghanistan by listing the Haqqani network, part of the Taliban, as a foreign terrorist organization. A ceasefire to facilitate the western retreat from Afghanistan is therefore unlikely to happen. While most the soldiers can be flown out of the country huge mountain the materials will have to go over land. Who will cover those routes while the western forces are reduced and the Afghan army, as is very likely to happen, breaks apart?

The last iconic pictures we will get from this war of Afghanistan will likely show huge columns of burning trucks.

Posted by b on September 22, 2012 at 18:08 UTC | Permalink


Obama may be too personally invested in "success" in Afghanistan to give up early. The primary distinction he drew between the Bush military policy and his own was that he would be smarter about it, and Afghanistan was to be the exemplar of that. Neither do military commanders particularly want to give up yet another war for lost. If the US leaves early, it'll be because Congress cuts the funding and, the spectacularly hackish McCain aside, Congress is not going to cut the funding.

Posted by: weldon | Sep 22 2012 18:49 utc | 1

Rep. Young: “I just think [now] we’re killing kids that don’t need to die.”

So before a 26-year-old sergeant from his church needlessly died, causing a sudden Young epiphany, Young and his friends -- i.e. "we" -- were killing kids that did need to die?

But then, Young has received over a hundred thousand dollars from Defense Electronics and Aerospace firms to cover his media-driven campaign for re-election so he knows about needs, with him chairing the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. He's received the money, and it's more than enough, so it's time now to move on. He's got his kick-backs.

PS: Apparently 1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell, 37, of Tyler, Texas died in the same IED explosion. But who cares about him, or the 1500 others killed in Afghanistan since the Nobel Peace Laureate took over, with his necessary war. They've never gone to church in Largo, Florida.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 22 2012 20:01 utc | 2

"The last iconic pictures we will get from this war of Afghanistan will likely show huge columns of burning trucks."

Can't happen soon enough to suit me. The US Empire deserves retribution for what it has done there.

Posted by: Mark Stoval | Sep 22 2012 20:06 utc | 3

Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla, should be parachuted behind 'enemy' lines, together with any and all of his family members of the appropriate age, and do his/their bidding on their own. Enough others have been sent out there to die. Time to right a wrong.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Sep 22 2012 20:09 utc | 4

The situation is only going to get worse.

The questions, as I see them, are:

1) Can the US (and the rest of NATO, though their views are not taken into account) withdraw from Afghanistan in good order? As b says, the men that's easy; the stacks of material, that's more difficult. It could end up with the Taliban in possession of vast stores of weapons.

2) Can the US spin the situation as a victory? In Iraq they did it, and you can still find commenters who believe it. In Afghanistan, it will be more difficult, but I think they may succeed enough to convince Americans.

Posted by: alexno | Sep 22 2012 20:22 utc | 5

after the US troops leave, they will continue with the drone bombings...

Posted by: Susan | Sep 22 2012 20:23 utc | 6

New York Times: Troop ‘Surge’ in Afghanistan Ends With Mixed Results

The senior American official said he disagreed with the Taliban view that “the Americans have all the watches, and we have all the time,” and that they are just biding their time until America’s withdrawal of the rest of its normal combat forces by the end of 2014.

Posted by: Frank | Sep 22 2012 20:33 utc | 7

If the reason to bugout isnt used as a reason that "we must stay" then the equivalent of filling the elevator shafts with concrete when the Portuguese withdrew from Angola treatment will be the plan. If nothing else we are a vindictive empire. You'll see columns of burning trucks alright.

Posted by: demize! | Sep 22 2012 20:48 utc | 8

The only burning trucks I think we'll see are those left behind at US bases and torched by US troops.

I agree that the troops will be airlifted out. But I think most war materiel that can't be flown out will be left behind, either as a macabre "gift" to the afghan people, or sabotaged and rendered useless by US forces.

No point in hundreds of miles of sniping at convoys.

Posted by: sleepy | Sep 22 2012 21:38 utc | 9

The Afghan Army gets it, and I don't mean 'fighting spirit.'

Commander of the ANA 215th Corps, located in Helmand, Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Sayed Malouk, and his deputy, Jun 3, 2012

. . .Malouk emphasized that the public and the ANA have a common goal—peace. He added the ANA soldiers and Afghan civilian are exposed daily to the danger of war. “They’re tired of war,” said Malouk. “They’re frustrated, they no longer want to be in this war. This (war) is something that’s been imposed by other people from beyond this country; and the Afghan (insurgents) who have been fighting against the ANSF, they themselves have been victims of this war. They have been encouraged by those others.”

Brigadier Gen. Ghulam Farooq, deputy commander, 215th Corps: “We’ve had continuous war in this country, we’re tired of war and we wish for peace.”

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 22 2012 22:36 utc | 10

Panetta says the US Afghan surge was a success, how about the surge of Afghans, a "potentially decisive story?"

General Caldwell, in charge of enlisting and training the Afghan Army, Chicago Tribune, February 15, 2011 -- "The unnoticed surge in Afghan security -- A little known but potentially decisive story developing in Afghanistan is the ‘surge of Afghans,’ that is, how Afghan men and women have swelled the ranks of the Afghan National Security Forces to levels more than double the U.S. surge. The surge of Afghans is the remarkable story of the tremendous growth of the Afghan National Security Force, a story will only continue as the army and police grow by an additional 35,000 by the end of October.",0,4075776.story

General Caldwell, DOD interview, Sep 26, 2011:
"This past month in September, we had over 8,000 young men decide to join the Afghan National Army. And that’s not something that just happened this month; it’s been going on since December of 2009, where we’ve had more than ample recruits every single month volunteering to join and become a part of the Afghan National Army. . .They’re coming in at 8,000 a month. . .we took an army that was about 95,000 two years ago; today it’s about 170,000"

ooops -- regarding green-on-blue (insider) attacks:
Taliban infiltration of the Afghan army and police is much worse than the U.S. military and NATO have admitted and was the main factor in the surprise move to limit contacts with Afghan security forces to curb insider attacks, former ranking U.S. officials in Afghanistan said. "I would put the percentage rather higher" than the 25% figure for enemy infiltrators and sympathizers that U.S. commanders have estimated, said Ryan Crocker, who stepped down as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in July. "I think we underestimate at our peril" the number of Taliban "sleepers" in the ranks of the Afghan National Security Forces that the allies have been pressing to take the lead security role, Crocker said.
Guess who rounded up all those recruits.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 22 2012 23:05 utc | 11

@6 No doubt the USA will continue the drone campaign.

Mind you, if the US Army has to hi-tail it out of Afghanistan and leave its equipment behind then the Taliban might find themselves in possession of a mountain of equipment with which to shoot down those drones.....

Posted by: Johnboy | Sep 23 2012 1:19 utc | 12

Or a mountain of stale hotdog buns.

Posted by: dh | Sep 23 2012 1:50 utc | 13

It seems like FSA has been kicked out of Turkey, things are getting too much for Erdogan.

Posted by: nikon | Sep 23 2012 2:02 utc | 14

Erdogan is worried that salafists will turn their guns on turkish troops or citizens, and is expelling all salafists from Turkey.

Posted by: nikon | Sep 23 2012 2:04 utc | 15

The people of Benghazi have had enough of them too. That's probably how most of the Syrians feel.

Posted by: dh | Sep 23 2012 2:11 utc | 16

Our politicians are a bunch of feckless assholes. Who takes responsibility for these clusterfucks? No one, thats who. They point fingers and vomit up a bunch of divisive partisan horseshit, while squandering trillions and sending our youth off to die. These fucking sacks of shit and bloated airbags are an embarrassment to everything we are supposed to stand for.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Sep 23 2012 2:20 utc | 17

nikon @14 Hardly tho, consider it as moving a JTOC closer to the battle, the main TOC is still in Incirlik, and it's not like the Turks will kick us out anytime soon...! ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 23 2012 2:40 utc | 18

I could foresee a Saigon '75 Kodak moment for Kabul, maybe Kandahar too, but, I do think a whole lot of WP grenades will be melting engine blocks and safes...!

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 23 2012 2:47 utc | 19

PoA @ 17: Yep! Thank you corporate America.

Posted by: ben | Sep 23 2012 14:56 utc | 20

With luck, the Gulf War I style line of flaming trucks will be the least of the administration's problems. Afghanistan was a war of aggression as surely as Iraq was - no UNSC authorization, and no Article 51 self-defense claim that passes the judicial laugh test. With aggression now defined as a crime, an influential strand of judicial interpretation argues that committing your crime before the law comes into force does not get you off the hook. As the Warsaw PactImeanNATO weakens, and as law unifies the world consensus against US aggression, America's death machine is going to need a scapegoat. Bush is too connected. If I was a death merchant who wanted to go straight, I would sacrifice the powerless, asskissing, empty suit Obama as America's first and last criminal aggressor. Americans would turn on him in a heartbeat. The patriots could feel good about themselves again.

Posted by: ...---... | Sep 23 2012 14:58 utc | 21

*The U.S. government will spend $511 million to expand its embassy in Kabul, the U.S. ambassador said Wednesday, describing the work as a demonstration of America's long-term commitment to Afghanistan*

Posted by: denk | Sep 23 2012 15:42 utc | 22

@denk - like that biggest U.S. embassy in the world in Baghdad where the U.S. has left about zero influence ...

Posted by: b | Sep 23 2012 17:57 utc | 23

b 23

the murikan junta prolly has other ideas
*The agreement, specified Ambassador Ryan Crocker, does not prevent the United States from continuing to launch attacks from Afghanistan, with UAVs, the insurgents in Pakistan, since “it does not exclude the right to self-defense*

Posted by: denk | Sep 24 2012 2:47 utc | 24

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