[…] Policy wonks who have been waiting with bated breath can now exhale: the congressionally mandated Afghanistan Study Group (ASG) has published its findings. The panel of grandees comprising the ASG has produced a most handsome document. Just days after its appearance, however, their handiwork already appears likely to disappear without making any serious impact. […]
To further muddy the waters, the ASG urges that any final peace deal signed between the Afghan government and the Taliban provide for the continuation of a “limited U.S. military presence with counterterrorism capabilities.” In other words, even in the event of peace (however loosely defined) being achieved, U.S. warfighters will stay on, more or less in perpetuity. Why the Taliban, which has been fighting to oust foreign troops from Afghanistan ever since 2001 (or since 1979 if you count the years of Soviet occupation) would agree to this arrangement is a bit of puzzle. The authors of the ASG apparently assume that an Afghan government formed as a result of the peace process (and presumably including the Taliban) can be persuaded to view an ongoing U.S. military presence as benign, with Afghan sovereignty and sensibilities taking a back seat to American national security concerns. The question of why an ongoing occupation by U.S. forces would be palatable to Afghans remains unexplored.
If the ASG has an overarching theme, it’s this: wishful thinking. “The way forward will be difficult,” the ASG’s mandarins write, “but it has the virtue of being clearer than ever before.” What’s actually clear is the Afghanistan Study Group’s stubborn reluctance to face up to facts.
Among the most relevant are these: 1) the United States and its allies have failed in Afghanistan; that failure is irreversible; 2) as a direct consequence of 20 years of war, Afghanistan is a failed state; the United States has neither the will nor the capacity to redeem it; 3) Afghanistan’s destiny will be decided by the Afghan people, which is both right and necessary; 4) the only permissible response by members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment is the one thing they are incapable of: repentance. Läs artikel