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William Astore: the Death of Peace
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How appropriate, don’t you think? America’s longest war, the Afghan one, now heading into its 18th year, may set another kind of record — for the longest withdrawal ever. The Pentagon recently revealed news of its daring “plan” to end that war. It will take up to five years to get 14,000 U.S. troops (and unknown numbers of private contractors), military equipment, and the like out of that country successfully, ensuring a war of perhaps 23 years (without, of course, a victory in sight). To add to the cheery news, just about everyone’s on board with the plan, except perhaps for one recalcitrant individual. As the New York Times recently reported:

“So far, the plan has been met with broad acceptance in Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels. But American officials warned that Mr. Trump could upend the new plan at any time.”

In other words, when it comes to setting records in Afghanistan (USA! USA!), the news couldn’t be more upbeat if the president doesn’t interfere (and his administration’s peace talks with the Taliban don’t somehow get in the way). In fact, there might be even better news lurking just offstage. The Pentagon’s “plan,” after all, looks strangely like an effort to simply outlast the Trump era in hopes that a future president might be far more intent on record-setting than the present one. General Joseph Votel, who heads U.S. Central Command, which oversees Washington’s never-ending wars across the Greater Middle East, may be typical of top U.S. commanders when it comes to such matters. He’s not just against the president’s urge to withdraw American troops from Syria but envisions a permanent war with ISIS into the distant future — and he imagines something similar in Afghanistan. As he told the House Armed Services Committee early this month, speaking of a possible U.S. withdrawal from that country, “The political conditions, where we are in the reconciliation right now, don’t merit that.”

So there’s no end to the records that could still be set, if it’s up to the generals, who — as TomDispatch regular and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and historian William Astore points out today — are filled with similar wisdom when it comes to what Pentagon officials have taken to calling “infinite war.”

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Afghanistan, American Military 
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  1. bob sykes says:

    I will grant you Afghanistan as our longest active war, but we are still running SOCOM troops in and out of Somalia and have done so since the winter of 92/93. That’s going on 27 years, and it deserves some sort of notice. I think we also have some people in Kosovo.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
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