More perpetual war: Afghanistan again

Speaking of perpetual war, the NY Times is reporting that the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which, despite a major withdrawal of troops, was never entirely over, has erupted again as the U.S. launched airstrikes and deployed Special Forces troops after the Taliban captured the city of Kunduz.

Though the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was, after much slaughter and suffering of combatants and civilians, able to dethrone the Taliban, we have not been able to bring about a peaceable and prosperous Afghanistan, for the Taliban and their ideological supporters remain a considerable and apparently well-armed presence in that unfortunate nation. The U.S. appears to be quite good at waging war but rather lousy when it comes to putting the pieces back into some sort of sustainable peace. Perhaps we ought to reconsider our reliance on military methods.

Middle East scholar Juan Cole brings together the two big foreign stories today— more war in Syria and Afghanistan:

Those who want the US to go into Syria in a big way should just consider what the Kunduz events mean. Fourteen years after the US went into Afghanistan, it still has not been able to stand up a successful army to which it could hope to turn the country over. How many orphans do the hawks want to adopt?

War fails as a solution to conflict precisely because its means cannot bring about the proper, long-term ends. War breeds an animosity and sense of vengeance that only legitimizes more violence in the eyes of the victims and the defeated. To build democracy around the globe will require the U.S. and the other democracies to choose more democratic, nonviolent sorts of “nation-building.” I’ll end with Cole, who ends like this:

So, no nation-building then. The US response to the return of the Taliban will likely be to insist on keeping 10,000 men in Afghanistan, virtually forever. But that move sets up the paradox that it makes Ashraf Ghani look like an American puppet, and encourages even more young Afghan men to join the Taliban.

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