Dear America – we are, on average, some of most stubborn people on the planet. Now before you go patting yourself on the back with the one good hand left after the 4th of July went sideways again, let me clarify. When it comes to foreign policy, we are stubborn to the point of stupidity.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Obama’s announcement this past week that he would leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. And that’s not because he reduced the number of troops from the magic 8 ball 9,800 that are already in the country. Or that I think he should have reduced it all the way down to 5,500.
This is dumber than a Trump line of haircare products (“Get that Angry Orange look you’ve always wanted) because it’s more of the same. Same shit, different war. Meet the new boss, as pointless as the old boss.
It’s American trying to fight a war on the cheap. It’s America trying to effect regime change without enough skin in the game. It’s America unwilling to unleash its full military might on yet another flip flop wearing insurgency.
Because we don’t do war anymore. We do “combat operations.” Or “overseas contingency operations.” Since we’d rather go to war with state actors, and we’re all super tired of the war on terror.
We convince ourselves that the 8,400 will be enough. That they, and the airpower that comes with them, will be what it takes to push this past the tipping point. That Afghan forces still in their institutional infancy will so have their cockles warmed by jet power they will win the day.
Let’s ignore the fact that Afghan forces only started receiving coherent, combined training in 2011. So it’s an army that’s really only five years old. And the air force is even worse off in terms of combat air support, thanks to political infighting in the United States that delayed delivery of A-29 aircraft by at least two years.
What if instead of trying to shoot our way out, we put some effort into making a peace deal? What if convincing ourselves that the way of the gun is the only way out of the graveyard of empires, we stopped the shooting. All of it. And started making plans for a real withdrawal.
What if there was a cease fire, enforced by every single piece of ordnance carrying flying hardware the US could muster? As in B-52s on station, ready to level entire towns the minute someone broke the deal. Because enough high explosives turning your village into a smoking crater will discourage some shit.
And what if the UN did the deal, instead of China and Pakistan all getting their objectives mixed up with whatever was supposed to happen at the table? Or some other third party that doesn’t even exist yet, but we created it just for this event? Some kind of End All The Wars You Ignorant Fucks Committee?
What we’re doing now is half-assed foreign relations fuckery. We’re not quite at war, and we’re not quite at peace. Meanwhile, Afghans keep dying because we can’t put an end to it. Maybe it’s time we tried something different.
Also published on Medium.