The War is Lost: Another Perspective on the Afghan War

By Frank Brodhead

I started the Afghanistan War Weekly several months ago because it seemed important to learn more about how the war was being fought on the ground, and what was the impact or what were the results of the military and civilian programs being put in place.

My conclusion so far is that the war, from the US point of view, has been lost. Not just that the war is in trouble, but that from a military and political point of view, things have gone so badly that they cannot be turned around, even with more time and resources.

I think this conclusion is important because the “war is lost” perspective or slogan addresses the likely future moves of the war managers in a way that our current slogans and perspectives do not.

Our antiwar slogans or perspectives now broadly include:

The war is immoral; it kills civilians
The war is not a good response to terrorism; it is making us less safe
The war is expensive; we need the money to build real security at home; and
The war should be ended through negotiations asap.

None of these slogans engage the war itself. We have added little new to our perspectives or our criticisms of the war since Obama’s decision at the end of 2009 to escalate the war. We need to take a closer look at the war itself. Two developments make this especially important.

First, the official US war aim for Afghanistan has changed. Leaving aside nebulous claims about building democracy, etc., until recently the US goal was to kill or eliminate Al Qaeda. But recent reports state that the number of Al Qaeda activists in Afghanistan has fallen probably below 100.

The war managers have responded to the declining usefulness of the Al Qaeda-in-Afghanistan threat by updating the US goal. Now our goal is to make military and political conditions in Afghanistan such that Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups cannot use Afghanistan as an operating base in the future.


0 replies