Less than graceful US exit from Afghanistan
President Obama announced the withdrawal of some 33,000 troops between now and the end of 2012.
Not coincidently, a Pew Center poll has just come out saying that 56% of Americans are sick and tired of the Afghan war.
Of course, even with the announced draw down, about 68,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan until, according to Obama’s timetable, the end of 2014. At that point the U.S. war in Afghanistan will come ”to a responsible end.”
U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan are not happy about the pullout. They claim that withdrawal of the surge troops now make unlikely the “consolidation of the fragile gains that they had made in Helmand and other provinces.”
In a recent interview with Amy Goodman on her show Democracy Now!, the Middle East scholar Juan Cole stated that “U.S. leaders often are just not good on history.” He noted that the British in the 19th century had “tens of thousands of troops” in sensitive parts of Afghanistan and could not pacify them. Then of course the Russians failed in this as well. What are the odds that a “relatively temporary…and small American expeditionary force can go into some of these provinces and shape them up for the long term? …. Very unlikely.”
And indeed it was and still is.
John Davies, a 17th century English poet, once remarked that men learn little but forget much. Most Americans have learned nothing about foreign affairs. The politicians and lobbyists forget mistakes as soon as they make them. At this rate the United States will not go out with a bang. It will just be a death dealing whimper.
[Excerpt of article by history professor Lawrence Davidson]