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We're Never Going To 'Win' In Afghanistan

four attacks over just nine days, more than 130 people were killed by terrorists. Some by the Taliban, some by ISIS. As if it matters.” data-reactid=”16″>Heaven knows, even if our politicians and generals don’t, that while we haven’t conclusively lost the war in Afghanistan, we surely haven’t won it. And if we haven’t won the war by now, we’re surely not going to. This fact was hammered home— not for the first time— late last month. In four attacks over just nine days, more than 130 people were killed by terrorists. Some by the Taliban, some by ISIS. As if it matters.

They struck inside Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel. They struck at an Afghan military complex. They struck in Save The Children’s offices in Jalalabad. And in the most lethal of the attacks, they struck with a bomb-packed ambulance inside Kabul’s “ring of steel,” supposedly the most secure sector of the city.

But “most secure” in Afghanistan is only relative. Neither the capital, nor the population nor the government is secure. Nor is the U.S. mission, whatever it actually is today. That is the terrorists’ intent: to prove that nothing is secure, even after 16-plus years of costly American efforts— with a 100,000 troops there at the peak— to exterminate the terrorists and pacify the nation.

Donald Trump might have said about Afghanistan in his State of the Union if not for those four murderous attacks, right on the eve of his address? As it turned out, even though the president is shoring the U.S. force back up to about 15,000 troops, America’s longest and currently its biggest war rated just 34 words. Stirring platitudes about “our warriors in Afghanistan” and “their heroic Afghan partners,” but none that actually pointed toward victory. That’s because victory is no closer now than it was at the outset. Yet few in Washington are talking about bringing those troops home.” data-reactid=”19″>Who knows what President Donald Trump might have said about Afghanistan in his State of the Union if not for those four murderous attacks, right on the eve of his address? As it turned out, even though the president is shoring the U.S. force back up to about 15,000 troops, America’s longest and currently its biggest war rated just 34 words. Stirring platitudes about “our warriors in Afghanistan” and “their heroic Afghan partners,” but none that actually pointed toward victory. That’s because victory is no closer now than it was at the outset. Yet few in Washington are talking about bringing those troops home.

They ought to examine the evidence instead of their egos. It is there, for all the world to see.


Afghan security forces look on as smoke rises from the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on Jan. 21, 2018. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters)

on Sept. 11. The aim? Annihilate the Taliban who were hosting al-Qaeda and leave Osama bin Laden’s soldiers without the safe haven from which they had planned their attacks. But that mission has long ago come and gone. The latest intelligence concludes that terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS now have safe havens in parts of more than two dozen countries on several continents. Whatever we eventually might accomplish in Afghanistan is utterly moot.” data-reactid=”32″>Exhibit A is our own history of the last 16 years, a history of mission creep. Our original purpose was noble, and necessary: we attacked in 2001 to rid Afghanistan of the vermin who attacked us on Sept. 11. The aim? Annihilate the Taliban who were hosting al-Qaeda and leave Osama bin Laden’s soldiers without the safe haven from which they had planned their attacks. But that mission has long ago come and gone. The latest intelligence concludes that terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS now have safe havens in parts of more than two dozen countries on several continents. Whatever we eventually might accomplish in Afghanistan is utterly moot.

Exhibit B is what we should have learned in earlier wars about alien terrain: no matter how smart we are and how strong we feel, when we’re fighting in the enemy’s neighborhood, he has the advantage. That helps explain why we didn’t win in Vietnam or Iraq. Fighters from the region know every nook and cranny and where to hide, and they have allies around every corner. That is something basic training at Fort Benning can’t equal.

What nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it.” And, in the wake of last month’s terrorist attacks, reporters asked the general who leads the U.S. Central Command if victory in Afghanistan is still a possibility. Gen. Joseph Votel’s chillingly predictable answer? “Absolutely, absolutely.” Trouble is, previous presidents and previous commanding generals have been telling us that for 16 years now.” data-reactid=”34″>Exhibit C is what we should have learned in earlier wars about counterfeit confidence, which conjures up shades of Vietnam: “Peace is at hand” (except it wasn’t). And shades of Iraq: “Mission accomplished” (except it wasn’t). Now it’s President Trump saying of Afghanistan, “What nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it.” And, in the wake of last month’s terrorist attacks, reporters asked the general who leads the U.S. Central Command if victory in Afghanistan is still a possibility. Gen. Joseph Votel’s chillingly predictable answer? “Absolutely, absolutely.” Trouble is, previous presidents and previous commanding generals have been telling us that for 16 years now.

And Exhibit D is simply Afghanistan’s anything-but-simple history. It has been invaded time and time again, beginning before the birth of Christ with Alexander the Great. Then Arabs, Mongols, the British, the Soviets. All swept through and for the most part, all were swept away. Now, with more than 2,200 American deaths already, it’s our turn.

The most recent attempt, by the Soviets in 1979, was an episode I covered as a reporter with my own eyes. Within days on the ground it became obvious that, for all the superior military force of the invaders, it would never be as potent as the fervent resistance of the mujahideen. The longer the war went on, the more determined I saw the Afghan fighters become to expel every last one of the occupying forces from their country.

The Taliban today are similar. They are tough, they are vicious, and they can bide their time. Like ISIS in other parts of the world, they don’t have to hold territory to win. They just have to hold a nation in the grips of their terror. The more than 130 people killed late last month are only the latest piece of proof that it works.

We’ve been fighting there for almost a generation. While we haven’t lost, we also haven’t won. And positive public pronouncements notwithstanding, there’s no convincing sign that we ever will.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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    We're Never Going To 'Win' In Afghanistan

    South Carolina train crash results in at least 2 deaths

    A train collision in South Carolina results in 2 deaths, 70 injured and 5,000 gallons of fuel spilled. Investigator are looking into the incident and treating the injured.

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    White House Plans To Withdraw 'Conspiracy Theorist And Anti-Science Extremist’ Pick

    The White House plans to withdraw its controversial nomination of Kathleen Hartnett-White to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, HuffPost has confirmed.

    struggled with basic science questions. Democrats sent her nomination back to the White House in December as part of a deal with the Republican majority to close out the legislative session. But President Donald Trump re-nominated her early last month.” data-reactid=”17″>Hartnett-White, a former Texas regulator, eked through the confirmation process last year with only Republican votes despite radical views on issues like climate change and a humiliating public hearing at which she struggled with basic science questions. Democrats sent her nomination back to the White House in December as part of a deal with the Republican majority to close out the legislative session. But President Donald Trump re-nominated her early last month.

    The Washington Post reported the administration’s plan to pull the nomination after it ”failed to gather momentum even as some of the administration’s other senior environmental policy picks had won approval, with some Senate Republicans raising questions about her expertise.”” data-reactid=”18″>But on Saturday, The Washington Post reported the administration’s plan to pull the nomination after it ”failed to gather momentum even as some of the administration’s other senior environmental policy picks had won approval, with some Senate Republicans raising questions about her expertise.”

    The White House confirmed the plans to HuffPost.

    Democrats and environmentalists, who vehemently opposed her nomination, hailed victory late Saturday.

    “In this case, it was abundantly clear very early on that heading up the Council on Environmental Quality wasn’t the right job for Ms. White,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement late Saturday.

    “I often say that when you think you’re right, when you know you’re right, you should never give up,” he added. “When it comes to insulating our towns and cities from climate change, or protecting our children from toxic pollutants and chemicals, there should be no compromise.”

    No Republican publicly opposed Hartnett-White. But it’s not surprising that her history of taking extreme stances to defend polluters gave lawmakers some pause.

    She previously railed against her own party for failing to campaign on the idea that the United States has “almost no real environmental problems.”

    said in 2011 at an Americans for Prosperity conference titled, “The EPA’s Job Crushing Regulatory Assault.”” data-reactid=”26″>“What you never hear and regrettably not even from our side is there is no environmental crisis,” she said in 2011 at an Americans for Prosperity conference titled, “The EPA’s Job Crushing Regulatory Assault.”

    Fossil fuels dissolved the economic justification for slavery. Kathleen Hartnett-White

    estimates that some 3 million people worldwide die per year from particles in the air.” data-reactid=”29″>She has made the claim that “people do not die from particulate matter levels,” despite World Health Organization estimates that some 3 million people worldwide die per year from particles in the air.

    abolishing slavery, claiming “fossil fuels dissolved the economic justification for slavery,” and attacked the EPA’s rules to limit mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.” data-reactid=”30″>Harnett-White also credited coal with abolishing slavery, claiming “fossil fuels dissolved the economic justification for slavery,” and attacked the EPA’s rules to limit mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.

    For GOP lawmakers like Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who have fought to clean up mercury contamination, that could raise concerns.

    “Kathleen Hartnett-White is a conspiracy theorist and anti-science extremist who would threaten public health as the White House’s top environmental advisor,” Sara Chieffo, vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement. “This is a victory for science, and Trump would do well to listen to our voices and nominate someone who will put communities, not polluters, first.”

    withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate accord, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has shredded rules to curb industrial pollution, and the White House has proposed a new offshore drilling plan that would open up huge swaths of the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans to oil exploration.” data-reactid=”33″>The failure of her nomination marks a small upset for the Trump administration’s environmental agenda. The president has already moved to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate accord, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has shredded rules to curb industrial pollution, and the White House has proposed a new offshore drilling plan that would open up huge swaths of the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans to oil exploration.

    • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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    White House Plans To Withdraw 'Conspiracy Theorist And Anti-Science Extremist’ Pick

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