19 years at War

I'm seeing a lot of people post "Never Forget" on social media. We all mourn in our own ways, and I don't begrudge them that. But I remember that exact moment, when the 2nd plane hit, and horror turned to rage as I (and everybody else) realized it wasn't a freak accident, it was a brutal attack. It will not be forgotten, any more than Pearl Harbor was forgotten. But we also need to recognize this: There are combatants on both sides in Afghanistan who had not been born yet when the Twin Towers fell. It is (by far) the longest War in our nation's history, and people still keep finding reasons to continue it:

Later, McKenzie said troop levels in Afghanistan would drop to 4,500 by November. He made the statement in a telephone call with a small group of reporters, according to officials at his Central Command office.

“We’re on a glide slope to be at 4,500 by the November time frame — October, late October, November time frame,” he said, according to a transcript made available by his office. He said the path to 4,500 would be determined in part by the military’s ability to get equipment out of the country.

“At 4,500 we’re still going to be able to accomplish the core tasks that we want to accomplish,” he said. “And we’ve shown more than ample goodwill and our willingness to demonstrate that we don’t want to be an occupying force in this country. But we do have strategic interests, vital interests, that compel us to be certain that these entities, such as al-Qaida and ISIS, can’t be guests there to attack the United States.”

The U.S. had reduced its presence in Afghanistan to 8,600 in June and was known to plan further reductions, although McKenzie had not previously cited a projected number. He gave no exact date for reaching the 4,500 level; he said a specific date has been targeted but he would not reveal it.

Bolding mine, because regardless of such posturing, we are an occupying force. And since there will always be an ISIS or Al-Qaeda or (fill in the blank) to worry about, there will always be a General or a Senator holding this position. Just like ten years ago:

Many military officials have downplayed the significance of the start of the withdrawal and have said the pace would be based on conditions. The U.S. will not leave Afghanistan precipitously, they say.

But the timetable has put the military in uncomfortable positions, officials have said, forcing them to reassure skeptical Afghan leaders that the U.S. won’t draw down quickly.

Petraeus did not elaborate on his own reservations and left the hearing moments later after becoming ill. But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was worried that the timeline had undercut Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s support for the U.S.-led war effort.

McCain said the announced drawdown made it harder for uncommitted Afghans to back the United States. The deadline makes it appear that the U.S. is more interested in “leaving than succeeding,” he said.

“I continue to worry a great deal about the message we are sending in the region,” McCain said.

We've "surged" and "drawn down" so many times I've lost count, and the Taliban seems like it's just as strong now as it was 5, 10, 15 years ago. It is turning into a Forever War, and we need to bring it to an end.

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I know some folks will take offense

But we need to have some hard conversations about this, before another ten years of Afghan occupation goes by largely ignored.

Not one hint of taking offense

This is an excellent post, pointing to the endurance of the military industrial complex and the allure of money for advanced weaponry. No better way to keep the payola flowing that an unending, invisible war that nobody really gives a shit about.

We could just about end homelessness with less than a tenth of our defense budget. Same with universal healthcare. And you know what? No one would miss that money except Ratheon, GE, Lockheed Martin, and, of course, Eric Prince.

It's not just Afghanistan either...

we still have some 3,500 troops in Iraq plus many thousands of others around the Persian Gulf region (Trump has sent about 14,000 more) ostensibly to counter the "threat" of Iran. The whole exercise is one that we need to finally rethink. We should not be nor should we ever have been acting as an imperialist power like this. We spend, as James says, an inordinate amount of our national wealth on extending military power into places we have no business being. Long past time that we ended this attempt to run the world and redirected that money where it will actually do some good.