Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Time to leave Afghanistan

There is an old military maxim: never reinforce failure. Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly what the New Zealand Army wants to do in Afghanistan. With Taliban activity rising, they're wanting more troops, and a change in role from helping people to killing them. It's superficialy appealing - after all, if the problem can't be solved with current resources, surely the solution must be to throw even more at it - except for one thing: like the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is already lost. Even NATO has basically admitted this. Like Vietnam, the occupiers win every battle, but it makes no difference. There are always more resistance fighters to replace those killed, and killing even more does not address the root causes of the conflict or advance a long-term solution. It may buy time for that to happen, but all the indicators suggest that it is simply not enough. Contra Bush, it is not simply a matter of killing all the "Evildoers"; occupation is not a witchhunt.

In short, we are stuck in the middle of a war whose inevitable result is failure. Our response should not be to increase our commitment - that would be reinforcing failure, throwing good troops after bad, and seeing them come home in body bags. Instead, we should do the sensible thing: admit defeat, and leave.