The United States alone has spent over seven billion dollars on counter-narcotics efforts [in Afghanistan] since 2002. For all that effort, only one percent of opium produced in Afghanistan has been seized. And there’s been no meaningful dent in production, which is actually higher than it was before 2001.
- Vox
The war on drugs has failed in Afghanistan, and without removing the demand for illicit opium, driven by illicit heroin use in consumer countries, this failure is both predictable and inevitable. If we cannot deal effectively with supply, then the only alternative would seem to be to try to limit the demand for illicit drugs by making a supply of them available from a legally regulated market.
- William Patey, former British Ambassador to Afghanistan 
Last week the Obama administration announced that it had reached an agreement with Afghanistan on a long-term bilateral security arrangement that, officials say, would allow up to 12,000 mostly American troops to be in that country until 2024 and perhaps beyond — without Mr. Obama offering any serious accounting to the American people for maintaining a sizable military commitment there or offering a clue to when, if ever, it might conclude.

The New York Times

"We are bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. And I’ve set a timetable. We will have them all out of there by 2014.” - President Obama, September 2012


We are leaving in 2014, period

"We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It’s their responsibility, not America’s."

- Joe Biden

"Marc Grossman, the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan … said Tuesday that the point of the upcoming negotiations is to agree on an extension of the U.S. troop presence well past 2014, for the purposes of conducting counterterrorism operations and training and advising the Afghan security forces.”

- Foreign Policy

Part deux of Joe Biden’s false promises (or lies if you prefer the term).


Come hell or high water…

"We’re going to be totally out of [Afghanistan], come hell or high water, by 2014."

- Joe Biden, December 18, 2011

"American and allied military planners are drawing up the broad outlines of a force that would remain in Afghanistan following the handover to Afghan security after 2014, including a small counterterrorism force…”

- New York Times, November 25, 2012




That’s the number of American soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since the inception of the war.  The New York Times has an excellent infographic that breaks down the numbers further by branch, province, age, and so forth.

Most telling, in my view, is the graph which demonstrates that the most violent years come after 2008, when we of course saw a policy shift from the Obama administration away from Iraq and focused on “winning” the war in the Afghanistan.  As you can see from the graph, the 2009 troop surge was consonant with the heaviest period of American casualties in the history of our involvement in Afghanistan:

More at the link.

And of course with the surge came more civilian casualties. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan estimates 2,412 deaths in 2009 (14% increase from 2008), 2,777 deaths in 2010 (15% increase from 2009) and another 1,462 in just the first 6 months of 2011 (a 15% increase from the same period in 2010).  The Afghanistan Rights Monitor also estimates that over 100,00 civilians have been forced to flee their homes.  

A couple of months into the deployment Hunter came up with the phrase “Damn the Valley,” which quickly became a kind of unofficial slogan for the company. It seemed to be the shorthand not for the men’s feelings about the war- those were way too complicated to sum up in three words- but for their understanding of what it was doing to them: killing their friends and making them jolt awake in the middle of the night in panic and taking away their girlfriends and wiping out a year- no, fifteen months- of their lives. Their third decade on the planet and a good chunk of it was going to be spent in a valley six miles long and six miles wide that they might not leave alive.
- Sebastian Junger, War

Afghan Loathing for U.S. Grows in Wake of Massacre

In a measure of the mounting mistrust between Afghans and the coalition, however, many Afghans, including lawmakers and other officials, said they believed the attacks had been planned, and were incredulous that one American soldier could have carried out such attacks without help.

Officials described growing concern over the cascade of missteps and offenses that has cast doubt on the ability of NATO personnel to carry out their mission, left troops and trainers increasingly vulnerable to violence by Afghans seeking revenge, and complicated tense negotiations on the terms of the long-term American presence in the country.


Afghan Soldier Betrays his American Allies Over Koran Burning, Kills 2 U.S. Soldiers

2 American soldiers have been shot and killed by an Afghan soldier who betrayed his allies in anger over the Koran burnings 

Two U.S. troops have been shot to death and four more wounded by an Afghan solider who turned his gun on his allies in apparent anger over the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, an Afghan official tells CBS News.

A statement from the International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan, the international coalition in the country, confirmed that two troops were killed in Eastern Afghanistan on Thursday by “an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform.”


6 People Dead, Dozens Injured in Koran Burning Protests

Demonstrators in Jalalabad chanted anti-American slogans and burned an effigy of President Obama

from BBC:

Protesters in Kabul shouted, “Death to America!” and threw stones at Camp Phoenix, the main US base in the city.

Riot police used water cannon to disperse protesters, some of whom were blocking the road leading to Jalalabad, one of the main trade routes into the capital.

Witnesses said security guards were firing into the air. There were also reports of people chanting pro-Taliban slogans.

One protester in Kabul, 18-year-old Ajmal, told Reuters: “When the Americans insult us to this degree, we will join the insurgents.”

In case you’re wondering how these protesters expect Korans to be disposed of, here is the proper ritual:

If one decides to get rid of religious literature, the right thing would be to bury them by wrapping them in something pure first, in a place where people would not walk very rarely. Similarly, it would be permitted to tie the books and papers with something heavy and cast them into a flowing river. You may also burn [texts other than the Koran], but in this case, only after erasing the names of Allah, his Angels and his Messengers (peace and blessings be upon them all). As far the old and unusable Qur’ans are concerned, it is not permitted to burn them unless there is no other way to dispose them.” Muslim scholar Allamah Haskafi


America to End War in Afghanistan in 2013

The United States and NATO will seek to end their combat mission in Afghanistan next year and shift to a role of providing support and training to Afghan security forces, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Wednesday.

Panetta said U.S. and NATO forces would still be actively engaged in helping Afghan forces operate. Although the Afghan army has grown in size and capability, it is still dependent on the United States military for airpower, troop movement, supplies and medical aid.

The second war Obama will have gotten us out of. You’re welcome, America. 


We must never allow our differences to harden into divisions.

It may be tempting to think it doesn’t matter what happens to a villager in Afghanistan or a child in Africa, but the temptation of isolation is deadly wrong.

- George W. Bush

Truer words are rarely spoken. I’d like to point out that with this statement, the former President seems far more moderate than any Republican currently running, with the lone exception of Jon Huntsman. 


Obama’s Condescending Decision Not to Release the bin Laden Death Photos

When deciding not to release the bin Laden death photos, Obama argued that the photos could incite violence and be used for propaganda purposes. This argument is almost laughable. We risk inciting violence from Islamic extremists nearly every day. We risked it when we killed bin Laden. We risked it when we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. We risk it every time we affirm our support for Israel. One wonders, when could our foreign policy decisions not potentially incite violence and hatred?

Furthermore, it seems implausible that a single photo would cause an attack. Killing bin Laden is OK but releasing his photo would push his supporters over the edge? Certainly the photo could, and probably would, be used for propaganda purposes. But so what? Are we denying ourselves access to evidence and information due to other people’s nefarious intentions? Since when has misuse of information justified withholding information?

What concerns me most is that the President and his inner circle are deciding what we can and cannot look at. We all have the right to view films and photographs of  bodies on Omaha Beach or concentration camp victims. At the Holocaust Museum in D.C., one can see the dismembered victims of Nazi medical experiments. 

Is it necessary to see these kinds of images? I would argue “yes.” They function both as evidence and as powerful reminders of our history. But my opinion, just like Obama’s or anyone else’s, is meaningless. Americans should not be treated like children incapable of seeing gory images or photographic evidence. The decision to view the bin Laden death photos is simply not the President’s to make. It is our choice and ours alone. An administration that honored its commitment to transparency and didn’t infantilize its citizens would release the photos.