Resolved, the West will Win the GWoT

I am disappointed so many people want us (the West) to pull out of Afghanistan. What’s up with that?

We are winning in Afghanistan. What the heck did you think a war in that stinkhole would look like? We haven’t even been in Afghanistan for ten years yet. It took most of fifty years to get South Korea up and running.

Look, after 9-11, you (civilian people) sent us (military people) to war. We told you it would be a generation-long effort. Remember when George Bush (the Lesser) tried to call it “The Long War?” So why the heck do people want to pull out now?

In the bigger picture, this spate of terrorism is the last flash of a light bulb as it burns out. Why do you think Islamic Fundamentalists have turned to arms? Because they could see they are losing the economic, cultural and demographic battle.

Few people want to be poor and religious. Most want to be rich and secular. The West’s culture is kicking butt all over the world. These guys could see where it was heading and kicked over the table rather than letting it happen.

Remember the big, bad Soviet Union? It collapsed to Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Same thing here. Once we get our act together and destroy the weak governments in this region, things will change in a big way, and in our way.

We are winning. And we are winning in a non-Charlie Sheen sort of way.

Be brave, admit mistakes, adjust and keep up the fight.

What are we winning? Al Qaeda moved to Pakistan, and is now shifting to Yemen. Afghanistan is a corrupt hell hole. As soon as we leave, it’ll revert to tribal warfare.

You’ll have to do a better job convincing me that staying there is in our interest.

Saying “The west will win tGWOT” is the same as saying “The west will win the war on organized crime.” Both wars are ongoing and never-ending. There will always be some more terrorists abroad, and more mafia/drug gangs/etc at home. IMHO.

Then why are we wasting our time FIGHTING them with arms?

There’s no such thing as a Global War on Terror. The concept is absurd on a good day and deliberately deceptive on a bad day.

Come on now. I’ve never argued for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, but this is not that hard to understand. It’s been almost 10 years. The results have been inconsistent at best. The government is deeply corrupt (bribery is endemic and the latest election was rigged) and doesn’t seem to control much outside of Kabul. We’re constantly hearing about the Taliban regrouping and the loyalties of the people there are divided. Certainly a lot of them don’t want the Taliban to be in charge again but they still have significant support among Pashtuns from what I can tell. There’s no end in sight to any of it. It’s not hard to understand why people would throw their hands up.

By what measurement?

I’m not sure that matters, but I don’t think this is what anyone expected, nor was it what they were encouraged to expect.

You would be hard pressed to find a lot of people who are OK with U.S. troops being in Afghanistan for another 50 years. This is not going to help your argument.

I didn’t send anyone anywhere, and I find this attitude loathsome.

No, “you” didn’t. Bush is not one of the “military people,” he’s a politician. And he was talking about his view of the broader conflict against terrorism, not Afghanistan in particular.

That’s not news to a lot of us. It’s why many of us have said this entire “GWoT” nonsense should be abandoned in favor of focusing on other issues.

I too would like to know the metric we’re now using for success.

We will win when the people of Afghanistan and other nations are rich and led by popular, efficient governments that embrace Western culture. As I said, it took fifty years in South Korea, so why do so many people want to toss the Afghan people back to those who killed and terrorized them.

The only way the Bad Guys can win is if we give up. Oddly, many people here and elsewhere seem to want to do that.


I take this to mean “maybe we’ll win at some undetermined point in the future, and maybe we won’t.”

How many people do you think would have supported a 50-year commitment to Afghanistan in 2001?

If you’re not going to acknowledge any counter arguments, I think you’re going to be disappointed with the discussion. It’s not very hard to understand why people are disappointed with 10 years of muddled and ambiguous results and a war of uncertain goals that has cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and many lives, nevermind the fact that the U.S. debt has become such a major concern in recent years. And John Mace is right that whatever gains are being seen in Afghanistan seem to be coming undone as fundamenlists pop up in Yemen and Pakistan.
I’m very concerned about the idea of abandoning Afghanistan’s people to more repression at the hands of fundamentalists. But doing so is not the same as “giving up” in a broader context when you have noted yourself there are so many non-military issues involved.

OK, so you are uncomfortable to turn Afghani women to enslavers and mutilators, but you are willing to do it? Why?

As for the debt, once we decide to win, we will raise taxes and raise new formations to fight this war for the couple of decades. Wars cannot be won without sacrifice. We have proven that over the last ten years.

People will support another couple of decades in a couple of countries once our political class decide they want to win this war. You can do your part by deciding to do what you can to win the war.

This is WW3, we need to make the same sort of commitment to this war as our grandparents made to their war.

Probably something to do with disinclination to endlessly and pointlessly expand large sums of government revenues on fighting in Afghanistan

By what rational metric?

As far as I can tell, the West is in an endless game of making dents in a balloon. The ostensible national government is corrupt and fraudulent and all the factors that generated the Taleban are back.

Short and brief to let a Northern Alliance then fight it out on its own.

Doubtless there were Sov. Generals who said the same thing.

As the two are not remotely comparable on any indicators I can think of, why is this a useful comparison (although I think thinking the Americans “got” RSK up and running is a bit of American-centric fantasy).

You’re a teacher I seem to recall. I don’t think that makes a valid US-THEM, but … so the bloody fuck what? After 11 September the NATO alliance went to war. Now ten years on… what was achievable seems to have been achieved and other, rather more fantastical objectives remain, well, fantastical.

Is there some collective military mass-mind? I never noticed it myself.

Regardless, the generic observation of a ‘generation-long effort’ (vague and meaningless really) doesn’t make any given theatre of operation the place where blood and treasure should be spent.

Rather seems to me you’re engaging in a rather vulgar version of the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Because, presumably, the mere argument to a long effort does not in fact justify a specific action. See Sunk Cost Fallacy.

The other

Yes, they also pissed away vast amounts of GDP on a pointless war in Afghanistan seeking unobtainable objectives, when a more limited, hands-off approach would have been more efficient. Symptomatic of imperial over-reach / security over-reach relative to security, every new frontier of the security space generates new security needs, ever escalating security seeking spend.

No, the Sovs collapsed due to massive over-spend on military and huge under-investment in long-term productive industry (that and the disaster of central planning, but what is military spend if not central planning). McDo and Coke are merely symbols, they are not at the fundamentals of why the West could support a certain level of military competition and the Sovs couldn’t.

Given the US of A shows every sign of military over-reach, and the typical imperial addiction to keeping up status (not a swipe, UK, France, Spain all were there in the past, its not specific to anyone)

Uhuh. So… The weak quasi Puppet in Afghanistan has to now be destroyed to be replaced by "Something"that will allow in McDo and Afghanistan will magically have the economic infrastructure to support your vision of Westernisation? Despite it being land-locked and not having particularly great neighbours.

Destroying the “weak governments in the region”- which are those? Pakistan? India? Tajikstan? What in the disastrous political record in Afghanistan makes you belive that American and allied military are particularly capable of effecting regime change such that things will “change in a big way, and in our way” ? See also Iraq.

Again, a Sov general probably said something startling similar c. 1986.

Yes, admit mistakes, like thinking that knocking aside “weak governments” leads to the little American in everyone that Americans seem to genuinely believe exists jumping out.

The Afghanistan engagement is a classic example of Sunk Cost fallacy and needs to be wound down. The very presence of NATO troops props up the worst aspects of the client regime, which is not then forced to find its own support or compromise with the Taleban opposition (which by all accounts is as much generated by corruption and abuse as religious extremism).


Ah never then.

Charming you think bombing villages for ten, twenty or 50 years is going to lead to popular and efficient government.

“The Afghan people” are a fiction. The Pashtuns who are the core of the Taleban clearly have a lot of issues, legitimate ones even - e.g. corruption, vote stealing, etc.

It’s rather ridiculously simplistic to act as if the Taleban are not themselves the Afghan people, indeed by their very ability to resist NATO forces, clearly a substantial portion.

And again, there’s nothing in the Afghan historical experience that indicates a RSK experience is even remotely repeatable (among the significant differences, real common national identity).

“Bad Guys” is not a useful way to look at this.

Strategic objectives that were obtainable were obtained. Unobtainable ones are just fantasies.

False equivalency

Afghani women are properly the concern of Afghani society and not 3rd parties. I am for one not seduced by Messianic Civilising missions at bayonet point. Worked out rather badly the first time around, see no reason why the American version will work better.

Liberal elements of Afghan society are rather more likely to do well without being tied to and backed up by foreign guns, and gunships that blow up weddings and the like.

Wonderful, the Soviet experience, Part II.

Something to learn from past imperial experiences. Not every dusty patch of frontier is worth the civilising mission fantasy.

British and Soviet empires were quite unable to subdue Afghanistan, I rather predict the American effort is about as pointless.


Boring and tiresome the idea of some “political class” not wanting to win hard enough. It was boring in the Vietnam version, it’s boring and tiresome in the extreme relative to Afghanistan.

You’re not involved in WWIII, and the extremely stupid WWII permanent example of what wars are is beyond wrong-headed, it is positively delusional.

How will this eliminate terrorism?

I quoted wmfellows’s response to this because it’s worth repeating and only the conclusion I’ve drawn from this thread is that the US is heading for a Soviet Union style economic collapse if they keep spending money on pointless wars.

To win don’t the terrorists have to lose? As was mentioned in this thread, the terrorists have moved on, perhaps the US should do the same.

It won’t happen in Afghanistan in 50 years. It happened in South Korean because we drew a “line in the sand” and we’re STILL there. Just how many countries do you think we can do that for?

It will take a hell of a lot more than 50 years to make every Arab country rich and Western, especially when they’ll be looking at the end of oil on the horizon. We have a strong presence in Saudi Arabia and they are relatively rich.

If Pakistan weren’t so unstable, I’d remove most of the military presence from Afghanistan.


So a coalition of countries bombed, invaded and occupied Afghanistan and have been there for 9 1/2 years, but they didn’t “decide to win?” Gee, that was foolish. Since wars are apparently won by willpower, maybe they should have decided to win and skipped all the other stuff. That certainly would have been cheaper.

You mean the people who committed other people’s children to the war in the first place and then immediately stopped paying attention to it other than signing the checks? The American political class has favored a very aggressive military policy for a long time. The only time they pull back from that is when the voters start to wonder if they’re being asked to fund a pointless boondoggle that is killing a lot of people. That doesn’t happen very often.

We heard this bullshit pretty constantly from 2001 to 2006. This is not World War 3. Other than some rhetoric, not a single thing about it has indicated American leadership views it that way. You had it right when you said it’s the “last flash of a dying lightbulb.” That does not describe either World War, or for that matter the Cold War, at all.

The West will win the GWoT when angry young Muslim men have something other than jihadism to feel enthusiastic about.

This new democracy movement might be it . . . We’ll see.

Well, no, it happened in RSK because:
a: They’re well situated for trade by ocean with the rising Asian economies, notably Japan early on, and as well China now (and nowhere in RSK is very far from a sea port and thus cheap economic connection to the wider world).
b: they’re cultural and ethnically homogeneous, so once a modicum of stability was assured, economic and political development could easily follow
c: their cultural / imperial hangups of the past were mostly directed towards fellow Asians, China and Japan. West did not have real long-term baggage.

None of the key economic or cultural factors obtain relative to Afghanistan.

Afghans are not Arabs, so… what do the Arabs have to do with this?

Pakland has gotten more unstable since NATO, and particularly the Americans started banging around in Afghanistan. There’s a very good reason to believe that Security Overreach is generating its own insecurity.

Arab =/= Muslim so I don’t see the connection really.

As a US citizen I’m not willing to dedicate the mountains of treasure and gallons of blood required to achieve that, even accepting your premise that Afghanistan will succeed with the same amount of effort as Korea.

I must tell you, calling them ‘bad guys’ comes across as incredibly myopic.

I agree with the OP.

If we were to withdraw from Afghanistan, it would be the greatest propaganda victory for America’s mortal enemies since Vietnam and our confidence shall be crushed. It is bitterly ironic that the media tends to play up America’s defeats rather than its victories (ie in Iraq). We won in Iraq-we will win in Afghanistan too. We’ll fight them in Pakistan, Yemen, and wherever else they’re hiding but we will win.

Well, they cut the noses and ears off women, have gang rapes of little boys and grow opium. Where I come from, that makes them Bad Guys.

Why are you unwilling to remove the danger the Afghanis pose to the US and the rest of the world? Do you propose to just ignore them and hope the next time they don’t pop a nuke?

Hope is not a plan.