U.S. Out of Afghanistan: Here’s How

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 August 18, 2017|
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The ongoing war in Afghanistan—America’s longest (and most expensive) conflict to date—is a mess and the military has no idea how to clean it up. What began as a simple punitive expedition targeting the terrorists responsible for 9/11 has become an indefinite nation-building exercise that is draining the United States military of vital resources and personnel.

In reality, the mission parameters in the Afghanistan War preclude anything resembling “victory.” In a sense, ousting the Taliban, splintering al Qaeda, and killing Osama bin Laden, means America “won” the war and should have come home years ago, perhaps leaving behind a small counterterrorism force to prevent Afghanistan from becoming an al Qaeda stronghold once again. But that isn’t what happened.

Right now, the Trump Administration is reviewing our ailing Afghan strategy. Recent reports suggest that the president had a contentious National Security Council meeting with his defense advisers because he disliked the Pentagon’s plan for Afghanistan. Essentially, his military advisors laid out a rehash of the plans they presented Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama—plans that cost hundreds of American lives and billions of dollars, without the hope of victory.

Trump rightly assessed that the new plan was a loser. But the status quo is a loser, too. The Pentagon is set to spend $48 billion in fiscal year 2017 on operations in Afghanistan alone, and wants another $50 billion for next year.

Nearly $100 billion over two years—for what?

Democratic Follies
Another surge into Afghanistan would not produce different results. Why not? Our current mission is impossible. We’re still stuck on making Afghans into modern liberal democrats, throwing aside thousands of years of history, tradition, and culture. Indeed, the country has spent its existence engaged in murderous civil strife—and when the Afghans aren’t busy fighting each other, they may be expected to unite temporarily to resist foreign invaders. There’s a reason historians have referred to Afghanistan as the “graveyard of empires.”

Alexander the Great, Bābur, the famous Mughal Dynasty founder, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and even the Arab al Qaeda terror network have all tried to control Afghanistan at one time and to one degree or another. No matter how many troops or how much money was thrown into the endeavor, Afghanistan has never been tamed and likely never will be.

More to the point, Americans never signed up for waging a war for democracy in Afghanistan. After 9/11, Americans rightly wanted to punish those responsible. Al Qaeda and, specifically, Bin Laden were directly responsible for the attacks on New York City and the Pentagon. The Taliban gave al Qaeda a safe haven. Within a year of invading Afghanistan, al Qaeda had been busted apart and resorted to hiding out in neighboring Pakistan while the ruling Taliban were toppled from power. Although we lost Bin Laden at the ill-fated Battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, the fact remained that the United States basically had accomplished what it set out to do by the spring of 2002.

America should have declared victory and come home. Instead, we declared Afghanistan would be a democracy. After 17 years, the American project in that godforsaken country has been less about fighting terrorism (though that is certainly a critical aspect of our mission there), and more about preserving the unpopular, disconnected (because there are no roads, much less unifying infrastructure of any kind in Afghanistan), and kleptocratic central government in Kabul. It’s a failure. It will keep failing, no matter how many troops we send or how much more money we throw away.

Not only has the central government foundered, the Taliban and al Qaeda have regrouped and grown stronger and our presence is seen less as a liberating force and more as an oppressor and an enabler of corruption. It doesn’t help that our drone strikes on terrorists have done widespread and seemingly indiscriminate collateral damage to civilians, which has driven neutrals into the arms of our enemies.

What Can Be Done Differently?
Recently, Erik Prince, the former CEO of the controversial private defense contractor  Blackwater, has proposed an innovative if risky way of getting out of this mess. Prince, in effect, wants his new company—Frontier Services Group, a logistics company focused on Africa and South Asia—to take over the fighting. Under his plan, President Trump would  appoint a presidential envoy to run the war effort, and that Prince’s company would provide the boots on the ground.

According to Prince, the real issue is ensuring that Afghanistan’s security forces are capable enough to resist the inevitable return both of al Qaeda and of Taliban forces when the Americans withdraw. Prince is likely correct when he says that if America pulled out of Afghanistan tomorrow, the black flag of the Taliban or al Qaeda would fly over the U.S. embassy compound in Kabul within six months.

Prince would use his company to train the Afghan security forces “from within, providing professional military leadership, reliable air support and business administration assistance.” He points out that the U.S. Special Forces essentially did the same for the Afghan special forces, turning 17,000 troops into a highly capable force. But those 17,000 special forces troops won’t be enough to stem the rising tide of al Qaeda and the Taliban without U.S. military aid.

Prince would replicate the special forces model for the all of Afghanistan’s security forces. He claims that his approach would cost “20 percent of the $48 billion being spent in Afghanistan this year.” Trump reportedly has expressed interest, while the Pentagon is aghast at the idea of letting private contractors take over for U.S. troops.

Mercenaries have a bad reputation, which makes Prince’s plan less likely to gain the traction it needs to win approval, let alone succeed long term. But that doesn’t make it a bad idea. Fact is, there are already 25,000 private contractors operating in Afghanistan today. For all the past missteps, the inexpensive and efficient nature of this plan gives it a degree of attractiveness it might otherwise be lacking.

Of course, the real question is: what happens when the United States military must bail the private contractors out of a serious bind? After all, no matter how capable and powerful a private army is, it is still much more limited than its nation-state counterparts. Remember, the East India Trading Company, which ran Britain’s private military force in colonial India, ultimately needed the British army to intervene directly on its behalf during the infamous Indian Mutiny in the 19th century. This resulted in the nationalization of the British position in India, and allowed for the Crown to take direct control. It also weakened the British Empire, as London was now directly on the hook for whatever befell their distant colony of India—no matter the price.

If Not Democracy or Mercs, Then What?
Unlike Britain, the United States has never been much for proper empire-building. It doesn’t suit our character. And nation-building hasn’t succeeded, either. That leaves counterterrorism.

Counterterrorism without nation-building would be more efficient and less expensive. During the Obama Administration, the CIA presented plans to station scores of their paramilitary forces in Afghanistan alongside Army Special Forces units that would permanently conduct counterterrorism operations, in order to prevent Afghanistan from being used once again as a safe haven for jihadists.

Easier said than done? Perhaps. That’s why we need a multilateral, regional solution. The United States won’t succeed alone. Pakistan, India, Russia, China, and even Iran will need to play a part. These five powers will make-or-break America’s ability to leave Afghanistan with a modicum of grace and honor. In each case, these powers have a greater interest in seeing us leave than they do in seeing us remain in Afghanistan.

Pakistan holds most of the cards when it comes to dealing with the Taliban (and to a lesser extent, al Qaeda). Yet, for geopolitical reasons concerning their ongoing conflict with India, the Pakistanis will not abandon their nominal support of these two groups—not without significant pushback. Even still, the Pakistanis rely heavily on their relationship with the United States. If the Trump Administration were to begin making serious overtures toward India about a greater Indo-American relationship, the Pakistanis would feel threatened, and would likely be compelled to alter their behavior (especially if they understood that America was truly seeking to leave Afghanistan for good).

Meanwhile, the Russians have gotten increasingly involved in Afghanistan over the past several years, out of fear that instability in Afghanistan could leech into their barely stable southern periphery (which is overwhelmingly Muslim). Russia has intensified close contacts with the Taliban, and has worried about the increasing presence of ISIS in the country. Russia is tired of America’s ongoing military presence in Afghanistan, as they view it as destabilizing the country and also they worry about America having permanent military bases so close to their southern periphery. If the Trump Administration were to signal a real interest in leaving Afghanistan (but with dignity), the Russians would likely feel compelled to assist President Trump in this endeavor.

For China, they have become heavily invested in Afghanistan’s abundant mineral resources (notably the copper mines at Mes Aynak). Plus, they too fear instability along their border, as western China (which borders Afghanistan) is home to the growing, restive Muslim population of China. Getting America to extricate itself from Afghanistan in a timely manner would not only free up China to develop those resources in Afghanistan for themselves, but it would also make them feel better, as a large American force would no longer be operating so close to their borders. If America threatened China’s business interests in Afghanistan, it might get the Chinese to be more willing in using their connections with both the Taliban and Pakistan, to force the Taliban to come to the table and negotiate with America for a peaceable settlement in Afghanistan.

Lastly, the Iranians have spent the last several years currying favor with the Shiite tribes in Afghanistan. They worry about being boxed in by American forces operating in Iraq as well as Afghanistan. The Iranians, like the Russians and Chinese, are also concerned about the rise of ISIS in Afghanistan. By aligning closely with Moscow to create a stable Afghanistan that would allow for the bulk of America’s forces to leave, the Russians could put pressure on their long-time Iranian allies to work alongside the United States in accomplishing the Trump Administration’s goal of liberating itself from Afghanistan.

Here’s the bottom line: The Taliban is an indigenous movement of Pashtun tribes. It isn’t going anywhere. We’re not going to kill them all or get an unconditional surrender. From time to time, Taliban leaders have suggested a willingness to enter into a negotiated settlement with the West. With a president in office who knows something about dealmaking, it might be time to follow up on that option.

The fact is, American policy in Afghanistan to this point has been a costly debacle. It’s time to put America first and look for a regional, diplomatic solution to ending the War in Afghanistan. We’ve enabled our military’s dreams of turning Afghanistan into Arizona long enough. The $48 billion that will be spent this year making Afghanistan worse could have been spent Making America Great Again.

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About the Author:

Brandon J. Weichert
Brandon J. Weichert is a contributing editor to American Greatness. A former Republican congressional staffer and national security expert, he also runs "The Weichert Report" (www.theweichertreport.com), an online journal of geopolitics. He holds master's degree in statecraft and national security from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. He is also an associate member of New College at Oxford University and holds a B.A. in political science from DePaul University. He is currently completing a book on national security space policy due out next year.
  • hamburgertoday2017

    Military power is an instrument of statecraft. Why it matters if the ‘boots on the ground’ are mercenaries is not altogether obvious. Unless there is a good reason for not doing so, perhaps it would be best to combine Prince’s plan with the CIA/SpecFor plan with the goal to provide (1) stability in the region and (2) certainty that American is not going to pull a ‘Vietnam’ or an ‘Obama’ and leave those who work with us hanging out to dry. Most people prefer stability and certainty in their lives to instability and uncertainty. But different people and different times have different ideas as to what is an acceptable form of ‘stability’ and the kinds of ‘certainty’ they are willing to live with. For 20% of the planned expenditures of the Pentagon plan, we could keep Prince’s operation going for many decades if needed and, if his plan has merit, it might not be needed. Combining a substantial — American trained and guided — Afghani ‘regular’ military with US ‘irregular’ counter-terrorism forces and making it clear we are not going anywhere for a long time the US can might be able to build a effective and enduring relationship with the Afghani people and not just the elites of Kabul. Such an approach might also enhance opportunities for diplomacy such as Mr. Weichert describes. Whether Afghanistan can everb ecome a democracy is not the most important question. The important question is: Can the Afghani’s count on the Americans?

  • JamesDrouin

    “U.S. Out of Afghanistan: Here’s How”

    Dear President Trump,

    Extricating the US military from Afghanistan is simple; inform Secretary Mattis what needs to be accomplished and the time frame it needs to be accomplished in.

    Please issue those orders today.

    Sincerely,

    James Drouin

  • SurfingUSA

    Not one more son of American soil should die in that godforsaken country.

    • csdp31732

      Curious…

      So what is your solution? Maybe a 24-7 MOAB bombing display to clean house?

      • ek ErilaR

        I think the plan is to recognize that the Taliban is not al Qaeda and to let the Taliban form a government.

      • SurfingUSA

        Leave. Not our problem.

      • Marshall Gill

        You realize that Alexander the Great basically declared victory and left Afghanistan over two millennium ago and that things really haven’t changed, right? He was willing to slaughter tens of thousands and the second that he was gone it was as if he had never been there. Just like will happen once we leave.

        There is no “solution” to the failed barbaric State that is Afghanistan. It should be isolated and left to the Hell of it’s own making.

      • Keep a ~5,000 man contingent around Bagram along with a Predator/Reaper squadron to conduct anti-terror ops but completely abandon any sort of nation-building exercise. As much as it offends our modern humanist/universalist culture, our military stance in the WOT has to be centered around punitive ops (and not the ally-defending affairs we used during the Cold War).

        Muslim extremist cultures are not potential allies who simply need to be defended from (largely foreign) revolutionaries, they are intrinsically in conflict with us.

  • CrazyHungarian

    Ever since Alexander gave up on Afghanistan, nearly every major power in the world has had a shot at trying to tame this area and all have left shaking their heads and wondering “What was I thinking, there is nothing here worth taking or taming”. Now it’s out turn.

  • Friotz the Cat

    According to the Dark Side (www.fritzthecat.net), the US plan in Afghanistan is rolling along quite nicely. It was never about nation building, democracy, or getting rid of the Taliban. It is about building, training, and equipping an army of fanatical Islamists and turning them loose in Muslim Central Asia to serve as a second front in the US’s war against Russia, China, and Iran. This is a bi-partisan plan that has been ripening for 50 years. I’m not sure if Trump is in on it, but that would be one way to get us out of this Depression. It worked in the last Depression, and the US came out of that war smelling like a rose.

    • Cape Traverse Observer

      get into your bunker and stay put buddy. we will let you know when it’s safe to come out.

  • Old_Blue_64

    I really hope President Trump reads this column.

    • kenpuck

      Gen. Tommy Franks stood down the 10th Mountain Division at Tora Bora and let bin Laden sneak away. Had he been bright enough to realize that al Qaeda was playing him for a sap with a phony “truce,” he could have mustered the troops, gone into the caves, grabbed bin Laden, and declared victory.

      “There is a tide in the affairs of men.
      Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
      Omitted, all the voyage of their life
      Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

      –Brutus, in Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3

      • Totally agree. The stand down order set the stage for big $$$ for nation building. They needed a bogey man to keep us engaged.

  • Snapper Grabber

    what trump needs 2 do is kill himself PERIOD–this rotten POS needs 2 go and if u can’t accept that u need 2 put a 9mm in ur mouth

    • Ed The Oregonite

      Well, I guess that settles it then….

      Wait! I thought the topic was Afghanistan?

    • kenpuck

      “Snapper grabber,” huh? Bet you haven’t even seen one in 30 years, you loser.

  • csdp31732

    Interesting theory Mr. Weichert…

    But if we remove our troops, or even reduce the level of troops we have now, we will create an atmosphere that is similar to what happened with ISIS in Iraq in 2013-14. Nature abhors a vacuum. The Taliban and al- Qaeda forces are made up of a number of different militant tribes. We can’t kill everyone, and if we attempt to ‘make peace’ with a few of the tribes, others are not beholden to that agreement. So we are still no better off. They will never stop attacking us. We are now public enemy #1 in Afghanistan. We have been there so long that wee are getting hit from all sides. Militant insurgents, and civilians alike. No one is happy with the current state of affairs. There is no simple or easy solution available, that isn’t horrific or tragic. It’s similar to the situation with the Republican skinny-repeal heath care bill that failed in the U.S. Senate. Any agreement that one set of tribes will agree to, makes it LESS likely that other tribes will as well. We’re stuck.

    Peace is probably an unattainable goal with all these different factions, regardless of the path you choose. That’s not an uncommon realization when you’re talking about Afghanistan. (from a historical point of view) Let’s face facts: We must now accept our new normal. The United States has to mount a military SURGE, to wrest back control of the key areas where we have battled to a stalemate. They must then maintain a small number of embedded American troops in Afghanistan, in perpetuity, if we want to eliminate the need to launch another massive invasion force in the very near future. Finally, we have to increase the number of counter-intelligence officers on the ground in those key areas to prevent the advancement of the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents. That’s about the best we could hope for at this point.

    The original sin was engaging in a full-scale armed conflict (in one of the most difficult terrains/climates on the planet) without a clear EXIT STRATEGY, and now we’re trapped by that fateful decision. There are no good options here. (which is also the case in North Korea) The whole AMERICA FIRST theme is a total farce. We ARE the world’s policeman. (and have been for decades) That burden comes with a unique set of responsibilities, which we just have to accept. The Erik Prince proposal is absolutely preposterous, especially in light of his reputation. Even if you put that aside, you cannot sub-contract out a war to a private company. What the hell is that anyway? The new Merchant Marines? That decision would end in disaster.

    We will end up doing what we always do: Tweak our overall strategy at the margins, and throw even more blood and treasure at the problem, with the hope that it all works out.

  • Obama acolyte

    America doesn’t hire mercenaries to fight our wars. We aren’t the british empire and corporation are not to be given the right to go on the offensive and have wars for us. It is time to get out of Afghanistan and let them continue murdering each other like they have been doing for centuries.

    • Sam McGowan

      Wanna bet? Ever hear of SAD? How about the Nungs? I agree we need to get out of Afghanistan. We should have never gone in there in the first place.

      • kalendjay

        And how did we hunt Bin Laden in the first place? Hired locals — er, mercenaries.

  • csdp31732

    Interesting theory Mr. Weichert…
    But if we remove our troops, or even reduce the level of troops we have now, we will create an atmosphere that is similar to what happened with ISIS in Iraq in 2013-14. Nature abhors a vacuum. The Taliban and al- Qaeda forces are made up of a number of different militant tribes. We can’t kill everyone, and if we attempt to ‘make peace’ with a few of the tribes, others are not beholden to that agreement. So we are still no better off. They will never stop attacking us. We are now public enemy #1 in Afghanistan. We have been there so long that wee are getting hit from all sides. Militant insurgents, and civilians alike. No one is happy with the current state of affairs. There is no simple or easy solution available, that isn’t horrific or tragic. It’s similar to the situation with the Republican skinny-repeal heath care bill that failed in the U.S. Senate. Any agreement that one set of tribes will agree to, makes it LESS likely that other tribes will as well. We’re stuck.
    Peace is probably an unattainable goal with all these different factions, regardless of the path you choose. That’s not an uncommon realization when you’re talking about Afghanistan. (from a historical point of view) Let’s face facts: We must now accept our new normal. The United States has to mount a military SURGE, to wrest back control of the key areas where we have battled to a stalemate. They must then maintain a small number of embedded American troops in Afghanistan, in perpetuity, if we want to eliminate the need to launch another massive invasion force in the very near future. Finally, we have to increase the number of counter-intelligence officers on the ground in those key areas to prevent the advancement of the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents. That’s about the best we could hope for at this point.
    The original sin was engaging in a full-scale armed conflict (in one of the most difficult terrains/climates on the planet) without a clear EXIT STRATEGY, and now we’re trapped by that fateful decision. There are no good options here. (which is also the case in North Korea) The whole AMERICA FIRST theme is a total farce. We ARE the world’s policeman. (and have been for decades) That burden comes with a unique set of responsibilities, which we just have to accept. The Erik Prince proposal is absolutely preposterous, especially in light of his reputation. Even if you put that aside, you cannot sub-contract out a war to a private company. What the hell is that anyway? A new civilian force called the Mercenary Marines? That decision would end in disaster.
    We will end up doing what we always do: Tweak our overall strategy at the margins, and throw even more blood and treasure at the problem, with the hope that it all works out.

  • swek

    where the hell is Ted Cruz’ father now that we need him

  • John_Smith_57_p

    “When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.”

    It is time to leave Afghanistan. Past time. We should have learned our lesson from what happened to the Soviet Union there. Or the British. Or everyone else.

    Afghanistan never attacked us. We had the chance to trade money for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda instead of invading and occupying the country. We were stupid not to take it.

    I hope Donald Trump has the courage to do the best deal he can do and get out. It’s tough to do that, since it means we will waste money and lives spent over 15 long years and through three presidents’ terms. But it’s the right thing to do.

  • ClawhammerJake

    Get out. Leave. Come home. We have plenty of work here rebuilding America to occupy our time and money.

  • Sean Paul

    Interesting theory Mr. Weichert…

    But if we remove our troops, or even reduce the level of troops we have now, we will create an atmosphere that is similar to what happened with ISIS in Iraq in 2013-14. Nature abhors a vacuum. The Taliban and al- Qaeda forces are made up of a number of different militant tribes. We can’t kill everyone, and if we attempt to ‘make peace’ with a few of the tribes, others are not beholden to that agreement. So we are still no better off. They will never stop attacking us. We are now public enemy #1 in Afghanistan. We have been there so long, that wee are getting hit from all sides. Militant insurgents, and civilians alike. No one is happy with the current state of affairs. There is no simple or easy solution available, that isn’t horrific or tragic. It’s similar to the situation with the Republican skinny-repeal heath care bill that failed in the U.S. Senate. Any agreement that one set of tribes will agree to, makes it LESS likely that other tribes will as well. We’re stuck.

    Peace is probably an unattainable goal with all these different factions, regardless of the path you choose. That’s not an uncommon realization when you’re talking about Afghanistan. (from a historical point of view) Let’s face facts: We must now accept our new normal. The United States has to mount a military SURGE, to wrest back control of the key areas where we have battled to a stalemate. They must then maintain a small number of embedded American troops in Afghanistan, in perpetuity, if we want to eliminate the need to launch another massive invasion force in the very near future. Finally, we have to increase the number of counter-intelligence officers on the ground in those key areas to prevent the advancement of the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents. That’s about the best we could hope for at this point.
    The original sin was engaging in a full-scale armed conflict (in one of the most difficult terrains/climates on the planet) without a clear EXIT STRATEGY, and now we’re trapped by that fateful decision. There are no good options here. (which is also the case in North Korea) The whole AMERICA FIRST theme is a total farce. We ARE the world’s policeman. (and have been for decades) That burden comes with a unique set of responsibilities, which we just have to accept. The Erik Prince proposal is absolutely preposterous, especially in light of his reputation. Even if you put that aside, you cannot sub-contract out a war to a private company. What the hell is that anyway? A new civilian force called the Mercenary Marines? That decision would end in disaster.

    We will end up doing what we always do: Tweak our overall strategy at the margins, throw even more blood and treasure at the problem, and hope that the situation improves.

  • Sean Paul

    Interesting theory Mr. Weichert, but…

    If we remove our troops, or even reduce the level of troops we have now, we will create an atmosphere that is similar to what happened with ISIS in Iraq in 2013-14. Nature abhors a vacuum. The Taliban and al- Qaeda forces are made up of a number of different militant tribes. We can’t kill everyone, and if we attempt to ‘make peace’ with a few of the tribes, others are not beholden to that agreement. So we are still no better off. They will never stop attacking us. We are now public enemy #1 in Afghanistan. We have been there so long, that wee are getting hit from all sides. Militant insurgents, and civilians alike. No one is happy with the current state of affairs. There is no simple or easy solution available, that isn’t horrific or tragic. It’s similar to the situation with the Republican skinny-repeal heath care bill that failed in the U.S. Senate. Any agreement that one set of tribes will agree to, makes it LESS likely that other tribes will as well. We’re stuck.

    Peace is probably an unattainable goal with all these different factions, regardless of the path you choose. That’s not an uncommon realization when you’re talking about Afghanistan. (from a historical point of view) Let’s face facts: We must now accept our new normal. The United States has to mount a military SURGE, to wrest back control of the key areas where we have battled to a stalemate. They must then maintain a small number of embedded American troops in Afghanistan, in perpetuity, if we want to eliminate the need to launch another massive invasion force in the very near future. Finally, we have to increase the number of counter-intelligence officers on the ground in those key areas to prevent the advancement of the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents. That’s about the best we could hope for at this point.

    The original sin was engaging in a full-scale armed conflict (in one of the most difficult terrains/climates on the planet) without a clear EXIT STRATEGY, and now we’re trapped by that fateful decision. There are no good options here. (which is also the case in North Korea) The whole AMERICA FIRST theme is a total farce. We ARE the world’s policeman. (and have been for decades) That burden comes with a unique set of responsibilities, which we just have to accept. The Erik Prince proposal is absolutely preposterous, especially in light of his reputation. Even if you put that aside, you cannot sub-contract out a war to a private company. What the hell is that anyway? A new civilian force called the Mercenary Marines? That decision would end in disaster.

    We will end up doing what we always do: Tweak our overall strategy at the margins, throw even more blood and treasure at the problem, and hope that the situation improves.

  • kalendjay

    As per my blog at AG a few minutes ago, it really is all about the money when you fight a tribal war.

    The Russians, and I do mean Russians, knew this. In the 1860’s, they put down a rebellion in Lithuania by stripping land from the Polish nobility there. They attempted agricultural collectivization in Afghanistan shortly after they sponsored a coup in ’78 I believe.

    If we’re going to sponsor mercenaries then the least we can do is pay them electronically on cell phones monitored and issued by Uncle Sam — and no Chinese hacking. Same for civilian investments and transactions, which would dry up dollars for the Taliban to shake down. Remaining dollar trade would be in opium, which by now does villagers no good in feeding themselves, as most of what they should earn goes for ‘protection’ — so burn those poppies and dollar bills too.

    Since China has a history of foreign bribery to promote thug government in Africa, an early order of business will be to put those ‘Chinese mining interests’ under US-Afghan custody — we like to keep our business honest. And why not? It was the Pentagon that did the aerial mapping of Afghan mineralogy back under Bush.

    And hire quite a few mercenaries from Pakistan. They will owe no loyalties to the shadowy and corrupt regime in Islamabad. So you say the pakis won’t like it? Fine — hire gurkhas and sikhs instead!