2009/02/26

Afghanistan nightmare scenario nonsense

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It began recently and now appears almost everywhere; talk about what would happen if we leave Afghanistan or reduce our presence there to a much smaller size.

This is also being discussed on blogs and groups with an aura of competence.
Their assumption/assertion usually sounds like this:

The Afghan army and police would be slaughtered in one to three weeks.

Well, I lose all respect for those who spew out such nonsense.

Even a cursory look at Afghanistan shows that massacres of such a scale aren't actually the way how it would work there.
Maybe the Afghan army and police would be lost, but that would look much different, and those commentators should know it:
The Afghan forces would either disintegrate entirely and become civilians again or they would defect to warlords or they would defect to Taliban.
The Taliban would most likely not (need to) 'slaughter', 'massacre' the Afghan state's forces.

The other problem is related to the asserted duration.
It looks as if such assertions were more designed for political effect than for an accurate picture of reality.
The predictions about how quickly regimes would collapse are rarely accurate, and it took years instead of weeks in comparable cases (post-Soviet Afghanistan, South Vietnam).


I personally assume that the civil war would simply go on if we left.
Taliban vs. warlords vs. warlords vs. mayor of Kabul vs. Taliban.
That might last anything between months and decades, but certainly more than just a few months if we withdrew in late autumn.

This "genocide would happen and our enemies would triumph" line is plain propaganda in my opinion, and it prevents a rational assessment of our policy.

Sven Ortmann

1 comment:

  1. Money is the key here, specifically drug money. Everywhere in the world where there is a large drug industry you see armed criminal and even paramilitary groups. Mexico has some very well trained and well armed groups, including many ex-special ops soldiers. Columbia has FARC among other groups. Afghanistan now has the Taliban which now funds itself largely through the poppy. We ought to buy up the poppy crop directly from Afghan farmers to remove such a lucrative source of income from the hands of the Taliban and also remove a great deal of corruption from the Afghan government. It would be affordable, and not too difficult if done correctly. That would likely be far more effective and probably cheaper than sending in enough troops to destroy the Taliban, if that's even a realistic option. As it is now I don't think more foreign military force will ever decisively defeat the Taliban, even if we occupied parts of Pakistan, unless we killed everyone in rural Afghanistan(probably doable, but definitely illegal and undesirable). As for the Afghan government, I think government forces would melt away quite quickly if Americans left, and the Taliban would almost certainly have enough manpower to take over fairly quickly. The government is extremely corrupt, and Afghan soldiers are mostly fighting for paychecks. Whoever would end up in control of Kabul would probably at least nominally be Taliban. In any case, the Afghan government we inteded to set up won't exist and will have been replaced by a Narco-state.

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