Afghaniscam: Send in the Marines?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Abdul Ali Shamsi, a brave young Afghan, who was also serving as deputy governor in the Taliban-laced Kandahar Province, was killed along with ten other people when explosives detonated inside a supposedly secure guest house during a reception for visiting Arab dignitaries.


Here is how the NYT describes the remainder of last Tuesday:

“A bombing targeted a meeting of militia commanders in the Helmand provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, killing from seven to 11 people, according to various Afghan officials. Hours later, a double bombing that was claimed by the Taliban killed at least 38 people and wounded 86 others outside the Parliament during the early evening rush hour.”

The US, as part of coalition forces, currently has 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, our longest war to date, beginning after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Here is what the situation roughly looks like:

New York Times

New York Times

The red areas are controlled by the Taliban and the tan ones are contested.

In addition to the Taliban, ISIL also controls some areas.

After 16 years of fighting, 2,954 coalition fatalities and thousands more grievously injured, the enemy has a widespread, non-contiguous presence throughout the country.

They have not been forced into a controllable area where they could be brought to heel.

The current situation has nothing to do with coalition fighting ability and everything to do with the fragmented, religious and tribal nature of Afghans.

Fundamentalist leaders compete with secular authorities for control of the country.

The Afghan use of the Loya Jirga or grand assembly accords tribal chiefs the power and authority to make major decisions respecting domestic and foreign policy.

Afghanistan is incoherent because of its split leadership personality: religious and secular.

National outcomes based on democratic philosophy are not possible when tribal/religious notions have the same or greater allure than does secular law.

Israel and Palestine, Syria even, are closer to peace and stability because religious/tribal influences are subordinate to secular authorities, however brutal they may be.

(That’s right–peace or stability may not be very pretty.)

Perhaps the best example is Josef Broz Tito who led or helped to lead the former Yugoslavia from 1943 until he died in 1980.

He managed to create relative peace and stability among the six Yugoslavic countries which disintegrated into war after his death.



American interests are best served when we enjoy relations with stable countries who employ open markets.

Spending American lives in places like Afghanistan in hopes of igniting democracy is a failed prospect and a waste.

The map of Afghanistan definitively illustrates that we are unable, at any cost, to stabilize a society based first and foremost on religious and tribal loyalties, much less cause them to embrace democracy which subordinates religion to a protected, but secondary, role.

Ain’t gonna happen.

Keep our Marines at home.





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