Afghanistan is about to get the Iraq treatment

In the months leading up to the total collapse of Iraqi security forces and large areas of Iraq that were firmly in the hands of the US military and the Anbar Awakening were handed over to al Qaeda and ISIS, we heard a lot of happy talk from the administration on just how swimmingly everything was going.

Back when Obama was running for president, Afghanistan was important… mostly because he thought he could use it to show everyone that he was just the opposite of President Bush:

Afghanistan must become “the central front” in the war on terror, Barack Obama said Sunday in the Afghan capital, sharpening his policy clash with [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ] over whether the war in Iraq has been a distraction from that effort.

Obama has pledged to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan and to focus more on terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan.

“We have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan, and I believe this has to be the central focus, the central front, in the battle against terrorism,” Obama said in an interview with CBS News.

Now that stripping America of power an influence has become Obama’s driving force as he heads toward political oblivion, he is throwing away Afghanistan, too:

New data from the United Nations on the military advances by a resurgent Taliban is alarming for what it says about the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan — and what it suggests about the American military’s honesty about what is happening there.

The fall of Kunduz two weeks ago was a startling sign of how the Taliban has reasserted itself, wresting a northern city from the control of the NATO-trained Afghan Security Forces, who are not doing a great job of showing they are up to defending their country. The United Nations data, reported by The Times on Monday and backed up by interviews with local officials, paint an even bleaker picture of an expanding insurgency that has spread through more of Afghanistan than at any point since the Taliban government was deposed at the end of 2001.

This is really not a surprise. Obama’s heart was never in either Iraq or Afghanistan and his throwing away a victory that was handed him by President Bush in Iraq was a sure sign that the less important and more technically difficult fight in Afghanistan was going to be abandoned, too. But Obama labors under a very one-dimensional world view that is incapable of seeing beyond the current crisis. He seem impervious to the idea that actions in geo-politics, like in physics, have reactions and that often those reactions and consequences are powerful and uncontrollable. In Afghanistan, the resurgent Taliban may very well be the least of the problems:

The U.S. military’s highest-ranking general in the Afghanistan War acknowledged the Islamic State’s growing presence in the country on Tuesday, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that the group is “operationally emergent” and focused on taking over a specific city in the eastern part of the country.

Army Gen. John Campbell said the Islamic State is concentrated most significantly in Nangarhar province, in the southeastern corner of the country along the Pakistan border. The group is growing by recruiting members of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a branch of the Taliban that is focused primarily across the border in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

“The issue right now is that the Taliban and Daesh continue to fight each other, and so they’re going at it… inside of there,” Campbell said, using one of the alternate names for Islamic State fighters. “A lot of the Daesh, as we see, continue to be disenfranchised Taliban that maybe see Daesh as a way to gain more media, more resources, so they kind of changed T-shirts, raised a different flag.”

When Obama leaves the White House he is going to leave his successor alliances in tatters, an economy in the crapper, and resurgent enemies around the globe. It makes you wonder why anyone would want the job.

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