Is the war in Afghanistan still worth fighting?

Andrew j Bacevich
As the war in Afghanistan begins its tenth year, the American public – and even the Obama administration – seems divided about America\\\'s purpose there.
The war in Afghanistan is worth fighting if it is fought properly. Substantial US interests are at stake. For one, US withdrawal would encourage the jihadists. But it’s not worth it if we persist in fighting the wrong way.
The war in Afghanistan is worth fighting only if it can be justified in terms of some larger strategic purpose. The Obama administration has failed to articulate any such justification. This is not surprising: No such justification exists.
The problem to which the war in Afghanistan ostensibly provides a solution is the threat posed by violent anti-Western jihadism – to employ the shorthand commonly used in Washington – “terrorism.”
But nine years after President George W. Bush launched his global “war on terrorism,” there is no evidence to suggest that the use of armed force on a large scale over a protracted period of time will reduce that threat. If anything, the past decade shows that the occupation of Islamic countries by Western forces, in fact, serves to exacerbate antagonism toward the West.
By waging a war on terror, we actually play into the hands of our enemies. Expending scarce resources at a prodigious rate – at least a trillion dollars so far – we weaken ourselves. Meanwhile, American professions of benign intent in Afghanistan, along with our claims to know what “they” need – freedom and democracy – ring hollow.
The perpetuation of the war in Afghanistan serves one purpose only: to camouflage our strategic confusion.
Fighting on in Afghanistan (and expanding Western military operations in Pakistan) creates the pretense of purposeful activity where none exists. So the “war on terror” takes its place alongside the “war on drugs” and the “war on poverty” as one more monument to Washington’s folly and fecklessness. Simply trying harder next year won’t produce a result any different from this year.
– Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, and author of “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War”
(Courtesy: CSMonitor)