• Why Don’t the Candidates Talk About Afghanistan?

    April 19, 2016

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan

    Local Afghan

    Heading into its sixteenth year, with no endpoint in sight, America’s longest war is its least talked about.

    Afghanistan has not come up in any Republican or Democratic debate, except perhaps as one of a list of countries where Islamic State must be destroyed (left out is the reality that no Islamic State existed in 2001 when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban, who, by the way, are still not defeated.)

    For her part, the only mention of Afghanistan from Hillary Clinton is a vague statement last year of support for Barack Obama’s decision to keep 5,500 troops in Afghanistan when he leaves the White House in 2017. Bernie Sanders’ web site has a long series of statement-lets that generally say things have not worked out well in Afghanistan, but stays away from much of a stance.

    Republican front runner Donald Trump, least at first, was more honest on the situation. “We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. We had real brilliant thinkers that didn’t know what the hell they were doing. And it’s a mess. It’s a mess. And at this point, you probably have to stay because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave. Just as I said that Iraq was going to collapse after we leave.”

    However, once it was clear no one wanted to handle the truth, Trump quickly walked his statement back, denying that he had characterized U.S. entry into Afghanistan as a mistake and said he had only talked about Iraq.

    As the United States appears prepared for an indefinite presence in Afghanistan, what really is the situation on the ground 15 years in?

    The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, had a few thoughts on what has been achieved in those years, all at the cost of an estimated 149,000 Afghan deaths, alongside 3,515 American/Coalition deaths. No one really knows how much the U.S. has spent in dollars on the war, but one reasonable guess is $685 billion.

    Sopko, in remarks recently at Harvard University “The Perilous State of Afghan Reconstruction: Lessons from Fifteen Years” said:

    — Conditions are not, to put it mildly, what we would hope to see 15 years into a counterinsurgency and nation-building campaign.

    — Large parts of Afghanistan are effectively off-limits to foreign personnel.

    — Other consequences of insecurity are less headline-grabbing, but are still evil omens for the future of a desperately poor and largely illiterate country. Late last month, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Education was quoted as saying 714 schools have been closed and more than 2.5 million children were being denied schooling, mainly because of the war.

    — Bombings, raids, ambushes, land mines, and temporary seizures of key points can all serve to undermine the government’s credibility and affect security force and popular morale.

    — Security is where most of the U.S. reconstruction funding has gone, about 61% of the $113 billion Congress has appropriated since fiscal year 2002, or $68 billion.

    — As a result of the U.S. military draw down in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense has lost much of its ability to collect reliable information on Afghan security capability and effectiveness. We continue to rely on Afghan reporting on unit strengths, a concern because the rolls may contain thousands of “ghost” personnel whose costs we pay and whose absence distorts realistic assessments of Afghan capabilities.

    — Fifteen years into an unfinished work of funding and fighting, we must indeed ask, “What went wrong?” Citing instances of full or partial failures, is part of the answer. But no catalog of imperfections captures the full palette of pathologies or root causes.

    A lot of chew on there. Perhaps at some point the media, the voters, or the next debate moderators might inquire of the candidates what their current thoughts are.

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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...


      Wall Street acuttlebutt after Sopko’s report: “Stay long on opium and drones.”

      04/19/16 8:24 AM | Comment Link

    • StarkNakedTruth said...


      Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires… for good reason.

      04/19/16 8:53 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Stark….. Yeah, but America is a clever crypt kicker. It has found a way to exploit that part of the world. The homelanders will never protest about the costs of exploiting the so called graveyard of empires. Vietnam was a lesson for the master’s of war. The only Americans dying over there are ones who chose to be there- greedy immoral soldiers of foreign. Their deaths do not matter.

      04/19/16 9:15 AM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      IOW, a Zombie empire graveyard, Praise Poppy!

      04/19/16 10:38 AM | Comment Link

    • Kabul Attack Kills Dozens, Including Women and Children | eNews Park Forest said...


      […] and the apparent reemerging strength of the Taliban, former diplomat Peter Van Buren on Tuesday noted in an op-ed that the war in Afghanistan—officially the longest in U.S. history—continues to go […]

      04/19/16 11:34 AM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      The pwot has broken every one of the Principles Of War.
      John P.
      I doubt that the NG troops from my poverty ridden area are mercenaries.They are just Joes trying to survive and to get by.
      I grieve for them.
      jim hruska aka rangeragainstwar.

      04/19/16 12:01 PM | Comment Link

    • Why Don’t the Candidates Talk About #Afghanistan ? http://wemeantwe… | Roy Schestowitz - API Key Placeholder said...


      […] Don’t the Candidates Talk About #Afghanistan ? https://wemeantwell.com/blog/2016/04/19/why-dont-the-candidates-talk-about-afghanistan/ "inquire of the candidates what their current thoughts […]

      04/19/16 1:11 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      It’s the Washington way of dealing with controversies — duck it or act like there is no war going on at all. Get ready for a steady stream of this with a President Clinton.

      BTW, what causes the comments in boxes 5 and 7?

      04/19/16 2:20 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      Those are other blogs which linked to Peter’s article. If you click on their “names”, it will take you to their blog where they have reprinted this article, or at least printed part of it, with the proper credit to PVB.

      04/19/16 4:54 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      I don’t know why they show up as “comments,” but it is nice to see other places are picking up our stuff here. The stories on Apple and Snowden have attracted those tech blogs.

      04/20/16 7:47 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Thank you, Teri, for clarifying. I was curious what those were about

      04/19/16 10:31 PM | Comment Link

    • Links 20/4/2016: Wine-Staging 1.9.8, Intel Layoffs | Techrights said...


      […] Why Don’t the Candidates Talk About Afghanistan? […]

      04/20/16 5:56 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Peter said:
      “Afghanistan has not come up in any Republican or Democratic debate, except perhaps as one of a list of countries where Islamic State must be destroyed…”

      Afghanistan is the pea under Shell #3. Meanwhile, the Dumbest Country on the Planet’s hourly gambling addiction continues to bring a smile to the MIC’s shell game entrepreneurs….

      “No one really knows how much the U.S. has spent in dollars on the war, but one reasonable guess is $685 billion.”unquote

      Yeah, but here’s a running tab


      Living proof the USG is totally infested with brain sucking alien parasites.

      All I know it’s enough to house every man, woman, child in North America, feed everyone for decades, and fix every goddamned failing infrastructure in the entire country. Of course..those scum sucking morons in Congress couldn’t care less.

      04/20/16 7:57 AM | Comment Link

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