5 Reasons the U.S. Will Lose in Afghanistan

  1. You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia. But only slightly less well-known is this: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!” – Vizzini, The Princess Bride.
  2. President Karzai is not an adequate strategic partner. The proposed counterinsurgency strategy assumes an Afghan political leadership that is both able to take responsibiltiy and to exert sovereignty in the furtherance of our goal—a secure, peaceful, minimally self-sufficient Afghanistan hardened against transnational groups. Yet Karzai continues to shun responssibiliy for any sovereign burden, whether defense, governance, or development. He and much of his circle do not want the U.S. to leave and are only too happy to see us invest futher. They assume we covet their territory for a never-ending “war on terror” and for military bases to use against surrounding powers.” – Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, in a controversial leaked cable from 2009 advising against military escalation.
  3. Insurgent Math. Gen. McChrystal – former commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan –  estimated that each civilian death creates 10 new insurgents. By this math, even during a decline in casualties in 2009, we still created 4,520 insurgents. These numbers will likely rise, due to escalated troop levels and an expected relaxation of the rules of engagement. They also do not include predator drone strikes in Pakistan.
  4. We are in a quagmire. Even if the military makes progress, domestic pressures – financial and political – will prevent the U.S. from maintaining high troop levels. Republicans are correct that a timeline will allow Taliban/al Qaeda forces to wait in the wings and then re-emerge after withdrawal. They are incorrect in thinking further escalation and indefinite commitment will lead to victory.
  5. “No one seems to be able to articulate why we are in Afghanistan. Is it to hunt down bin Laden and al-Qaida? Is it to consolidate progress? Have we declared war on the Taliban? Are we building democracy? Are we fighting terrorists there so we do not have to fight them here? Are we “liberating” the women of Afghanistan? The absurdity of the questions, used as thought-terminating clichés, exposes the absurdity of the war. The confusion of purpose mirrors the confusion on the ground. We don’t know what we are doing.” – Chris Hedges, War Without Purpose.


  1. #2 is the key…..I am working on a piece about a solution for Afghanistan…the leader is the only thing that will get us out of the country…

  2. Ian

    #5 is the real problem. In order to say we win or lose, we have to first define what that means. We haven’t done it in Iraq either, where no one every gave a real reason as to why we are over there in the first place.

  3. Ian, that is a great question….it has been asked for at least 5 yrs now and NO one has a good answer other than some lame talking point….


  4. @lobotero and Ian: Surely the aim of the war in Iraq was perfectly defined (if not spoken aloud)…

    Bush senior felt forced to stop short of his personal target in ’92 and was pissed by the fact and Bush junior was hell bent on “putting things right” for Daddy? Wasn’t the root cause just plain old fashioned hatred of Saddam Hussein (a much more effective leader than Karzai will ever be)? Was there ever any other credible goal?

    Even given that, if Rumsfeld and cronies hadn’t screwed up (yet again) by disbanding the Iraqi army, we could all have handed restrained (monitored?) power back to them after the death of SH and walked away claiming victory.

  5. Ian

    I don’t think its that clear cut. The US was hostile towards Iraq during the Clinton years, and it was this hostility which made Iraq such an utter pushover when GWB invaded. GWB could have maintained the same policy of starvation via sanctions that Clinton did. Hussein’s regime was weak and broken and he really was not a threat.

    There are a few reasons we hear thrown about for invading Iraq: oil, GWB’s daddy issues, al Qaeda being allied with Hussein, and WMDs. We know that the al Qaeda connection and WMDs were utter lies used simply to drum up popular support for the war. The other two reasons are possibilities, but the cost of the war doesn’t seem to warrant going for the oil (unless you think Bush did it for his oil buddies). The daddy issues also ring a little false as well, since you would think that would be personal to Bush and no one else in the administration would feel the same way. I don’t think Colin Powell would have lied to the public the way he did about WMD if it was all cause Bush was mad about Hussein going after his father. So what is the real reason? Is it just about regional influence and control?

    I don’t know, Chappelle’s show did it best with the Black Bush skit.

  6. Clint


    I think two of your possible reasons for invading Iraq are the same thing: regional influence and oil. The U.S. has been interested in controlling/influencing the region precisely because of its oil. Iraq was not a real threat, obviously. Neither is Iran, which is being targeted for similar reasons.

  7. Ian

    I think its a little more complex than just oil. There has been rising anti-American sentiment in the middle East for quite some time now. What I mean by regional influence is more along the lines of keeping those countries from becoming too powerful with an anti-American government in place.