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Mission Failure: Afghanistan

Posted on Aug 2, 2012
ssoosay (CC BY 2.0)

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

(Page 3)

Whatever the singular bitterness or complaint behind any specific attack, a cumulative message clearly lurks in them that the U.S. military and Washington would undoubtedly prefer not to hear, and that reporters, even when they are toting up the numbers, prefer not to consider too deeply.  To do so would be to acknowledge the full-scale failure of the ongoing American mission in Afghanistan.  After all, what could be more devastating 12 years after the invasion of that country than having such attacks come not from the enemies the U.S. is officially fighting, but from the Afghans closest to us, the ones we have been training at a cost of nearly $50 billion to take over the country as U.S. combat troops drawdown?

What we’re seeing in the most violent form imaginable is a sweeping message from our Afghan allies, the very security forces Washington plans to continue bolstering up long after the 2014 drawdown date for U.S. “combat forces” passes.  To the extent that bullets can be translated into words, that message, uncompromising and bloody-minded, would be something like: your mission’s failed, get out or die. 

If the Aurora shootings got all the attention here last week, far more Americans are dying at the hands of Afghan allies than died in James Holmes’s hail of gunfire.  And yet the message from the more deadly of those rampages is barely in the news and few here are paying attention.

In reality, the American mission in Afghanistan failed years ago.  It’s as if we refused to notice, but the Afghans we were training did.  Now, they are sending a message that couldn’t be blunter or grimmer from that endlessly war-torn land.  Not to listen is, in fact, to condemn more Americans to death-by-ally.


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Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Engelhardt discusses the historically unprecedented nature of green-on-blue violence, click here or download it to your iPod here.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt

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