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William Astore: the Pentagon Has Won the War That Matters
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In June, Austin “Scott” Miller, the special-ops general chosen to be the 17th U.S. commander in Afghanistan, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Like so many of the generals who had preceded him, he suggested that he saw evidence of “progress” in the Afghan war, even if he refused to “guarantee you a timeline or an end date.” Smart move, general!

As it happens, just over a week ago, he got a dose, up close and personal, of what the Afghan version of “progress” really means. He was visiting key American allies in the southern province of Kandahar when the “insider” attack of all insider attacks occurred. In the sort of event that’s been going on since at least 2010, an ostensible ally, in this case a local member of the Afghan security forces who had evidently joined the Taliban, turned his gun on Kandahar’s chief of police (a crucial powerbroker in the region), the local intelligence chief, and the provincial governor, killing the first two and wounding the third. In the process, he ensured that, with local leadership literally down the tubes, elections in Kandahar would be postponed for at least a week. Three Americans, including a brigadier general, were also wounded in the attack. (In 2014, an American major general was killed in just such an insider strike.) In one of the rarest acts for an American commander in memory, General Miller reportedly drew his sidearm as the bullets began to fly, but was himself untouched. Still, it was a striking reminder that, 17 years after the U.S. invaded that country, the Taliban are again riding high and represent the only forces making “progress” or “turning corners” in that country.

In a conflict with no end in sight that is now not only the longest in American history but more than four times as long as World War II, the “finest fighting force that the world has ever known” hasn’t been able to discover a hint of victory anywhere. And that’s something that could be said as well of the rest of its war on terror across the Greater Middle East and ever-expanding regions of Africa. Today, TomDispatch regular retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel William Astore suggests that no great military stays at war for 17 years unless it is, in some sense, victorious. As a result, in his latest post, he explores just where, in our increasingly upside-down American world, evidence of such triumph might be found.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Afghanistan, American Military 
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  1. The Byzantines and Sassanids went at each other for 26 years, and it weakened both empires enough to allow Islam to gain a foothold in the region and ultimately conquer it. One can only wonder what will come of our folly in that part of the world.

  2. Isabella says:

    “The finest fighting force in the world” joined WWII after it had been going for a while, and ended up mopping up the depleted, exhausted and demoralised remains fo the one might Wehrmacht, after Russia, truly the finest fighters the world has seen, had finished with them.
    Since then the “finest fighting force” i the world has been unable to win a game of ping pong against goat herders with no more than some AK’s.
    Americans need to learn the lesson, fast, that the quickest way to self destruct is to believe your own lies.

    • Replies: @Rich
  3. anon[736] • Disclaimer says:

    We needed a permanent live-fire exercise area, and now we’ve got one.

  4. mijj says:

    the ‘win’ for the US is its continued active military presence. That is the US’s purpose for its military there – to be perpetually engaged and be a perpetual active threat in the region. The traditional kind of conquest-win would actually be a fail.

    • Agree: the grand wazoo
  5. Rich says:

    The Taliban have been run out of power, live in the bush, can only sneak out at night and kill civilians. US troops remain the strongest in the area and can take out any terrorists who lift their heads for too long. What are you talking about?

  6. When the Soviets “invaded” Afghanistan in 1980, a friend commented that since the Communists didn’t care about public opinion, they would soon suppress the uprising.
    My response then, and repeated in 2001, was that Alexander the Great led the last successful invasion of Afghanistan, and even then it didn’t last all that long.
    Afghanistan is a meat grinder. The Taliban didn’t exist at the time of Alexander the Great, and neither did Islam. Every attempt at conquest has failed, whether Persian, British, or other. Only the delusional think that imposing an outside will on Afghanistan is possible.

    • Replies: @Logan
  7. The goal of those who control and benefit from the US military have exactly what they want in Afghanistan, and that is simply put; to be there in perpetuity. The same as in Japan, Germany, Korea, S. America, Africa and any other place they occupy. We, the USA, have long ago ceased fighting wars to win, instead we prefer bringing to other nations some strange strain of freedom called democracy. We have morphed into a deadly virus, and the only defense a nation has against this virus called democracy is to be inoculated with a known carcinogenic vaccine known as the US Army. Sort of like the old monkey virus that plagued the polio vaccine in the 50s. Now there is a cure, but they won’t tell what it is. However Libya, under Gadhafi, was close to discovering the formula as was Saddam Hussein. I leave you with a clue to the cure, but it may be fatal. It has something to do with Central Banks and fractional reserve currency.

  8. Logan says:

    Alexander the Great led the last successful invasion of Afghanistan

    Except of course for Mauryans, Indo-Scythians, Kushans, Hepthalites, Arabs, Timurids and numerous others.

    The invasion by Alex was the last by a European army, not surprising since the Europeans were, you know, all the way over there in Europe. But numerous Indian, Persian, Central Asian and steppe-based peoples conquered the country successfully. Depending of course on how you define success.

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