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What's the payoff for staying in Afghanistan?



The situation in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan has been bloodier than it has been in recent months.
   President Obama has yet to make a decision, but each day brings yet another hint that the debate over whether more troops should be sent to Afghanistan is over. The debate inside the White House "is no longer over whether to send more troops, but how many more will be needed." Right now, the administration seems particularly keen on a strategy that would protect 10 top population centers, placing a particular emphasis on Kandahar, the Taliban's spiritual capital.
   Military officials insist that beyond top population centers, troops need to protect major agricultural areas and highways, and Gen Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, has already briefed Obama on how he would utilize more troops in this strategy.
   Officials insist that however many troops are sent, this new strategy would undoubtedly also include an increased focus on training more Afghan troops, efforts to get less-radical members of the Taliban to switch sides, and stepped up economic assistance. Essentially this would represent the middle ground that Obama has been so seeking between those who oppose any buildup and military officials who want more than 40,000 additional troops.
   There has been a considerable amount of discussion about Afghanistan and with it, a worry that increasing violence will disrupt that country's presidential election runoff on Nov 07.
  The Taliban is well entrenched in southern Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan and Waziristan, they do represent a well-developed government structure there, there is a certain détente between the Taliban and the Pakistani military and their secret service, the ISI. The Afghan people would just as soon get rid of us.
   Meanwhile, we learn that the president of Afghanistan's brother a dealer in opium (Afghanistan's chief import) and on the CIA payroll. It's a little too early to say what that all means.
   Some feel the United States owes Afghanistan an opportunity to set up its own government. Senator John Kerry, who is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says we need to be careful, that we should not increase our troop strength in Afghanistan beyond the ability of the civilian infrastructure to improve the government and improve the running of the country.
It's a little frustrating to hear these various voices making their arguments for or against Afghanistan. Each one sounds persuasive, each makes a good case for his or her point of view. But here's the question I have: Not so much what you think we ought to be doing in Afghanistan, but: What question must we answer to decide what our future is in Afghanistan?
   What is there in Afghanistan for the United States?
   What is so vital to us in Afghanistan that we would consider sending more troops and signing on there for a significantly longer period of time? Remember, we've already been there for eight years chasing Osama bin Laden and attempting to disrupt the Taliban. We're talking about sending more troops and giving aid to the Afghan government.
   Why would we do that?
  What does an American care what happens in Afghanistan?
   Afghanistan has a government riddled with corruption, a countryside the government does not control and a tribal culture that is as likely to tolerate the Taliban as it is to tolerate the central government in Kabul.
   So why wouldn't the United States just say to Afghanistan, sorry, but this is your country, your future, welcome to it. We'll see you later. We can do as Vermont Sen George Aiken said in the Vietnam era, "Declare victory and get out."
   For us to remain there --the human cost and the financial cost-- no one has explained the payoff. What is the payoff for the United States in Afghanistan that would have us stay there?
   Do you have a good answer to that?


  • Fed Up 5 years ago

    What's the payoff for staying in Afghanistan?

    Good question. It seems the Ditherer in Chief is clueless to the answer also!
    and he had the balls to go to Dover to see the bodies come back that HE IS RESPONSIBLE for their deaths for his dithering.

  • Ray 5 years ago

    hey Fed Up...

    i see that you forgot that it was your lord and savior w who got the u.s. intwined in 2 wars at once, so if you want to place blame on a 'ditherer in chief', start with w. but that would be too smart for you now wouldn't it?

  • Fed Up 5 years ago

    W is no longer in office DUH! I prefer to concentrate on the present and future. If you want to live in the past thats your right but I prefer the present.
    The rabid leftist press was all over him for not allowing pictures of the Dover returns and now that they can we don't see any do we?

    Just more of the insanity of the leftists.

    And STOP assuming so much of others. Why does the left do that so damn often? It is a terrible habit. I lost much respect for Bush during his FIRST term and did not vote for him in the second. so stop assuming because those that do are asses.

  • Bruce 5 years ago

    Fed Up: Outside the constant chest-beating of your contempt for Obama, can you explain how he's responsible for the deaths of those who died in Afghanistan this week? What could he have done to save their lives? What would've had to happen last month to prevent that, short of complete withdrawal?

    The mess in Afghanistan was left behind from the previous administration; they're the ones who dithered for nearly eight years after invading Iraq. It's your unpalatable criticism of Obama that leads people to assume you were a Bush acolyte. You weren't? Fine, but your criticism of Obama's Dover appearance is pointless. It's a photo op, like every other president who addresses things militarily before the cameras. They all do it. When they don't, critics complain that they didn't. Get over your hatred of the guy and make a productive suggestion about what to do, or what he should do. THAT, people can discuss. No one cares who likes or dislikes the guy. Stick to the issue.

  • Alan MacDoald 5 years ago

    This unusual and unexpected 'anti-war' Op-Ed allowed by the NYT may be the 'Walter Cronkite moment' for the Afghanistan War.

    Much thanks to the NYT for publishing this compelling lesson of Soviet EMPIRE history today:

    Op-Ed Contributor
    "Transcripts of Defeat"

    Published: October 28, 2009

    Such advice and sanity today is better than waiting for the NYT to have to print the "Pentagon Papers 2.0" later --- disclosing that our deceitful ruling-elite corporate/financial EMPIRE knew the truth about the Afghanistan War's trajectory all along.

    Alan MacDonald
    Sanford, Maine

    PS. "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." George Santayana

  • jj 5 years ago

    another empire is on it's last legs. another one bites the dust.

  • jack 5 years ago

    it's yet another replay of the latest empire. it's the same old imperial story collapsing under it's own weight.

  • palloy 5 years ago

    Its the opium, stupid.

    It is worth billions, it needs to be protected - there are 60,000 US troops there protecting it from the Taliban, who being religious zealots, closed it down when they were in charge. It needs to be smuggled out - there are US planes going in and out every day. It needs a market - the US is the world's biggest and richest consumer of heroin.

  • Sukh 5 years ago

    What is the payoff for the United States in Afghanistan that would have us stay there?

    1) A transit route for an oil pipeline from the Caspian basin to India
    2) Good geo-strategic positioning
    3) Control of a very profitable (and off the books) drug trade
    4) Definitely not for the well-being of the people there
    5) Definitely not for the sake of women's rights
    5) Definitely not for the sake of democracy

  • KIWI 5 years ago

    The Taliban refused to let the good ol' USA put oil pipelines through their territory. Afghanistan has the 2nd biggest oil deposits in the world and the warmongers want that very much. The dopey USA isn't there to liberate anyone. They have been there for eight years and will be there for another eight and will still lose.

    Obama fell right into it! The sucker!

  • Ed 5 years ago

    For the Ruling Class: the fantasy of "World Dominance" as they "encircle" Russia & China, "control" access to Caspian Sea area energy resources, control the world opium/heroin trade, and add to their war industries stock profits.

    For everyone else: more death, maiming, depleted uranium pollution, and catastrophic climate change.

  • Paul 5 years ago

    We need to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq , quite threatning
    Iran, leave that to the UN. Cut off all aid to Israel till they
    make peace and return to the Palestinians the land that they
    have stolen with US backing, which will ensure a lasting peace
    in that troubled land.
    We then can bring most of our troops home and station them on
    our southern borders and all the money we are spending on more
    wars can be spent on free health care for all Americans.

  • Eric 5 years ago

    There is no good payoff for being in Iraq or Afganistan. Its time to declare victory and leave. Bring all the troops home. Spend the money on nation biulding here in the USA, with US citizens doing all the work. The current troubles of Pakistan is a prime example of why no nation should leave its borders open.

    As far as Obama is concerned; he has been in office nine months, he is responsible for the baby. These are his wars and his economy now. If Obama can't stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen.


  • Bruce 5 years ago

    I agree with you, Eric, but I can't help wondering whether Ed may be onto something.

  • Stay on 5 years ago

    The mission is to establish a state in Afghanistan (a state is an institution that provides security, economic opportunity, justice, and freedom to all inhabitants) and to indoctrinate the population n the values of citizenship (those qualities in the individual that support the state). Clearly right now there is no state in Afghanistan and NATO is only hurting its chances by supporting the corrupt local government. It should take direct control of the country. When the inhabitants see that the government works for them, they will support it.

  • Bruce 5 years ago

    Stay on says: The mission is to establish a state in Afghanistan (a state is an institution that provides security, economic opportunity, justice, and freedom to all inhabitants) and to indoctrinate the population n the values of citizenship (those qualities in the individual that support the state).

    Why is that anyone's responsibility but theirs? The irony is that we're going to force them to be a free people. That's essentially what your mission comes down to, and you want to do it in a land that isn't a country but a series of tribal territories that have always had their own interests, and one of them is that they're not interested in our interests. That's why the government is corrupt; it's an officially recognized tribe, but it's still a tribal faction. And that doesn't even address the more serious problem: Who the hall is going to pay for such an endeavor?

  • jj 5 years ago

    Fed up,

    i'm fed with the likes of you where everything is a game of politics. no matter how fast the empire is circling the drain. the empire is collapsing under it's own dead weight faster that you can say total collapse.

  • Peter 5 years ago

    This war is as usual all about oil, oil and more oil. It is abouth the pipeline Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan - India (TAPI Pipeline). This project is to lay a pipeline to carry products down via Southern Aghanistan. It is a US backed project to bring trillions to the US economy...nothing more nothing less. The so called enemy is now over the border in Pakistan. All the troops are dying in the South along the route of this proposed pipeline....wake up Amercia and bring the troops home. AQ are curretnly being pushed back over the border but US troops are not in the area to support the Pakistan Army why? Because they are not after AQ they only want oil. In the area adjacent to the Pakistan Army thrust they want the US to back them up and guard the border. The US have not been in that area for 3 years....its all a game for economic growth and our soldiers are dying for oil...if the Taliban dont get them Depleted Uranium will......US weapons are killing out own troops...wake up US