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When did Obama know Afghanistan was "hopeless" and when did he know it?

Froomkin asks a good question:

David Sanger, in his book Confront and Conceal, wrote that within just a few months, as early as the summer of 2009, Obama had begun a "reassessment of whether the war was as necessary as he first believed."

And according to Sanger's murky sources, the recognition that things were hopeless came by June 2011 -- more than a year and a half ago. "Obama had learned … that he could not remake Afghanistan. …. He had come full circle in his ambitions for the country where empires and armies have met ugly stalemates," Sanger wrote.

Cynics have long suspected that Obama’s hawkish campaign talk about Afghanistan was purely a political ploy, in order not to be written off as a dove. After all, the conclusions Sanger says Obama finally reached by mid-2011 were pretty darn obvious to the vast majority of foreign policy watchers well before he even took office.

So why did Obama wait two years to "change his mind," and four years to pull out? Over 1,300 American servicemembers have died in Afghanistan since the summer of 2009 -- well over half of all the dead during the entire war.

When did he know it was hopeless?

Graveyard of empires.

But never of imperialists!

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Submitted by Lex on

If he didn't know in late September 2001, then he's a damned fool. It should have been obvious to anyone and everyone based on the capability, equipping, and training of the US Army combined with the trajectory of Afghanistan starting with the Soviet War.

Look, what Obama did has been the tactic of Democratic nominees since the end of WWII. JFK cynically attacked Nixon from the right on the "missile gap" even though his briefings as a candidate made it clear that the US had more than double the Soviet numbers in every category of nuclear weapon and better technology. He then prompted the Cuban Missile Crisis and nearly blew up the fucking world so as not to lose political face. (What the Soviets did - in response to Jupiters in Turkey - was legal and what the US did in the crisis was illegal. WH tapes show that JFK knew this and played brinksmanship solely for the purpose of domestic politics.)

US foreign policy is mostly just a perverted extension of domestic politics. That's how Obama played Afghanistan, attacking W's record from the right like JFK did to Nixon. It never had anything to do with actually prosecuting (or not) the conflict, but merely functioned as a political tool that had to be maintained long enough to not be a liability in the reelection campaign. Then he could declare a victory that only a nation of ignorant fucks would believe and "withdraw" to satisfy his detractors from the left while maintaining as much long-term presence as possible.

Remember, this is a guy who takes credit for "ending" Iraq even though the agreement to remove troops was signed by W and Obama did everything in his power to keep forces in Iraq. Only when Iraq told him to fuck off did he declare victory and mostly leave. Just this week Obama threatened Karzai with removing troops early, that's as cynical as it gets.

“Don’t believe them, don’t fear them, don’t ask anything of them” - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

diptherio's picture
Submitted by diptherio on

Hopelessness is all about perspective. If the goal was to bring liberty and democracy to Afghanistan, then yeah, it's been hopeless from the get-go. If the goal was to pacify the country enough to allow a US-owned pipeline to be built through the country to get Caspian Sea crude to the sea, then again, it's been hopeless from day one.

But...if the goal was to use up a bunch of weaponry and ammo, while radicalizing an entire country (or two) to ensure that we'll always have somebody who wants to kill us (cause why buy all that ammo and weaponry if no one wants to kill us?); all of this in order to buoy arms sales and pad the pockets of the death merchants, well then...MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.