Why even bring this up? What good is it to even talk about this now that we've set a deadline? I think we are missing the point when it comes to Afghanistan because we want to believe Afghanistan and Iraq can be solved in the same manner. Iraq had an economy before we arrived and that was the key to our ability to forming an exit strategy. We got the locals on our side and stabilized the country, so that everyone could share in the oil wealth that Iraq could generate if they would stop blowing each other up. This was a good and reasoned strategy the made real sense. We provide enough troops to stop the violence and let the economy take hold and things would get better. In fact that is exactly what has happened with a few pockets of resistance, but overall a huge success.
Afghanistan is no going to be so easy because the only true money making venture in that country is the poppy production in the western farmland. This is something that America can not allow, so there will be no awakening like in Iraq. Sure the average person doesn't want to grow poppies, but there is little other choice. The warlords ensure that with their guns and money. America is very unlikely to strike a deal with the drug dealers to allow them to continue to produce bumper crop after bumper crop in exchange for fighting the Taliban. This leads us to the problem of an exit strategy. How long do we hang around and support a corrupt government in Kabul, while the rest of the country is following the drug lords and their money. This seems to be a no win situation for the US.
My solution to this problem is what is going to happen regardless of when we leave or if we leave. We need to work with Afghanistan's neighbor Pakistan to secure their country and have it be a base for anti-Taliban fighters. America is going to be seen as an occupying force in most of Afghanistan because we oppose the growing of poppies and we are propping up a very corrupt government in Kabul. This is not going to do anything more than get our young men and women killed. We need to keep some reaction forces on the ground to take out high value targets as they arise, but we cannot and should not keep forcing our will on the people. Everyone in the world should have the right to their own form of government and if it doesn't result in killing innocent people in other countries then good on them. It they decided that it is time to spread their hate and death around the globe then we get to bomb the living crap out of them.
We must stop playing policeman to the world. We defeated the Taliban and helped Afghanistan have free elections once, but now we are just supporting a very corrupt government. We build roads and schools that everyone says we must, but it makes very little difference when there is no economy in that country and we firmly oppose the only one that has worked for thousands of years. Until we figure out a way for the drug lords to make the same money some other way, we are not going to succeed in Afghanistan. So whenever the day comes when we finally say enough is enough and pull back to Pakistan, the government in Kabul will either fall or turn into a dictatorship. There is very little option and the people will decide which they prefer. They didn't like the Taliban, but it reduced the poppy production and the country ran. Their mistake was thinking that they could strike America and we would roll over and die.
There is no easy solution to this mess and I am not saying cut and run, but we must start working with their neighbors to ensure that they are contained and that the Taliban can not export terrorist any longer. We need the people to government themselves and abide by the rules of a civilized world and failure to do so results in lots of bombs falling on your head. We must stop thinking that the American way is going to work everywhere.We can lead nations to free elections and the democratic process, but that isn't any guarantee that it will take hold. It didn't always take hold here in America either. We were just lucky that we had room to expand, so people could find new areas to live in if things weren't going the way they wanted them too.
Changing the world is a very difficult task and it would be nice if everyone could live in freedom and have justice, but that takes work and blood. We have to stop shedding ours to give them theirs because they have to work it out for themselves. We should support freedom fighters, but not occupy countries. We need to let the people decided what is best for them just like we did. We fought a civil war will thousands upon thousands of our citizens slaughtering each other, so that maybe the result in some of these countries. We think that because it is the 21st century that everything can be accomplished with words and money, but that isn't always the case sometimes there are wars and people die for their freedom.
I love America and I think there is hope for the rest of the world if they can follow our lead, but we can not force it at the end of a gun barrel. We must contain stupidity and terror, but if a country wants to have a religious based government then that is their choice and they can live and die with their choice. If they decided to export their stupidity then we have every right to kill them and their supporters. We were right to whack Afghanistan slick and hit the government reset button, but we should have left years ago. We have did the same in Iraq and now we are leaving. The question there is how long before they drop into civil war because hard as we try that is one of the possible outcomes like it or not. They can choose not to, but they can also choose to kill each other by the truckload. It will be their choice and they will have to live or die with the results. We cannot prevent every bad thing from happening, but what we can do is clean our own house and set a good example of leadership and governance.
It is unlikely that we will every stop radical Islam because its stated goal is to have everyone in the world be Muslim or dead. Since we are unlikely to become Muslim then it will be a war of attrition in which we either contain them or the killing on both sides continues. This will be the next War and much like the last this one will be two opposing global ideologies, but that is another post all together. We need to let the Afghanistan people decide what they want and let them live with the consequences.