This story from the New York Times is sad, but you definitely can’t say it’s unexpected. The story talks about the deep mistrust between Afghan soldiers, and their American “allies”, with violence between the two sides increasing. It says there are “mounting numbers” of Westerners killed by Afghan forces. It seems we’re now fighting not only the Taliban, but our “allied” Afghan forces that we’re trying to train.
We’ve been in Afghanistan for 10 years now. We call it “nation building” as we try to simultaneously fight Taliban forces, train Afghan forces to do it on their own, and build critical physical and political infrastructure in the country. After 10 years though, Afghans likely view it more as an “occupation” than as nation building. As the story notes, it’s not just Afghan military forces with an increasing level of resentment at our presence, it’s the Afghan people.
Yes, we’ve tried to help the Afghans. We’ve done our best (??) to try to rebuild the nation and put them on a path to true independence, a path that provides them with a stable government, and a military that can deal with forces like the Taliban. But after a 10-year presence in the country, things are still far from stable in Afghanistan. There comes a point where you simply need to cut your losses, recognize the futility of the situation, and let Afghans take care of their own country.
It’s remarkable how little we learned from Russia’s ill-fated war in Afghanistan. The Russians were there for almost 10 years as well. They lost almost 15,000 people. Over 500,000 Afghans were killed. Russia too tried to train Afghan forces to deal with the mujahideen…a move which also didn’t work out well in the long run. It took Gorbachev and a complete change in Russian foreign policy for them to pull out of Afghanistan and end the war…a war that people often refer to as the “Soviet’s Vietnam” for the futility of it all.
At this stage, the Afghans simply don’t WANT us there any more. In Iraq, they simply didn’t WANT us there any more. We’ve reached the stage in the war where we are now occupiers, not liberators or nation-builders. It’s time to leave.