Change The Place? Mission Not Accomplished, In Any Way Whatsoever

Change The Place? Mission Not Accomplished, In Any Way Whatsoever

Abby Zimet

Another disturbing report out of Afghanistan, where the watchdog for U.S spending in a $1.1 billion fuel program found lax or no accountability, missing records and who knows how much fuel gone lost, stolen or re-sold. No real surprise: In a long, blistering piece, The New Yorker's Dexter Filkins finds a dizzying morass of fiefdoms, militias, ethnic tensions, Taliban-ruled areas and marginalized, oblivious American officials who spend their time tweeting about sports events in their heavily fortified little worlds. Tragic, all. More photos.

"After eleven years, nearly two thousand Americans killed, sixteen thousand Americans wounded, nearly four hundred billion dollars spent, and more than twelve thousand Afghan civilians dead since 2007, the war in Afghanistan has come to this: the United States is leaving, mission not accomplished. Objectives once deemed indispensable, such as nation-building and counterinsurgency, have been abandoned or downgraded, either because they haven’t worked or because there’s no longer enough time to achieve them. Even the education of girls, a signal achievement of the NATO presence in Afghanistan, is at risk. By the end of 2014, when the last Americans are due to stop fighting, the Taliban will not be defeated. A Western-style democracy will not be in place. The economy will not be self-sustaining. No senior Afghan official will likely be imprisoned for any crime, no matter how egregious. And it’s a good bet that, in some remote mountain valley, even Al Qaeda, which brought the United States to Afghanistan in the first place, will be carrying on.

American soldiers and diplomats are engaged in a campaign of what amounts to strategic triage: muster enough Afghan soldiers and policemen to take over a fight that the United States and its allies could not win and hand it off to whatever sort of Afghan state exists, warts and all. “Change the place?” Douglas Ollivant, a former counterinsurgency adviser to American forces in Afghanistan, said. “It appears we’re just trying to get out and avoid catastrophe.”



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