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Petraeus: we should keep doing what has massively failed forever


Chotiner has a give-’em-enough-rope interview with David Patraeus, in which he essentially says that the US should stay in Afghanistan forever because the alternative is admitting that the war he kept wanting to escalate didn’t accomplish anything:

Was there an error somewhere along the way, given that when we pulled out this collapse just happened? How did we not prepare for that in twenty years?

I just think it was premature to leave. Now, you can say, Well, when do you leave? Ideally you say that there are certain conditions. Let’s keep in mind that everyone is criticizing nation-building. Well, part of nation-building is developing security forces. It is developing institutions that can take over tasks that we were provided. Undoubtedly, there were innumerable mistakes made in the name of nation-building and infrastructure overbuilt. You can name the different shortcomings. But, again, you have to build something you can hand off.

We were there for twenty years. Patraeus got the surge he wanted under Obama. This all produced Afghan security forces that couldn’t last a week after the US pulled out. How was staying another one or five or twenty years going to change that? He has no answer; just assumptions that if we stay long enough what has massively failed will somehow start working.

And he also makes the incredibly specious comparison beloved of apologists for Endless War in Afghanistan:

So more resources and more time?

Yeah. And time is actually the most important resource. In Afghanistan there was all this impatience that it was our longest war and all the rest of that, overlooking the fact that we have been in Korea, which still is technically—obviously people aren’t being shot and killed—but we have way more than thirty thousand troops there and in Japan.


In 2019, the US dropped more than 7,000 bombs on Afghanistan, despite which the Taliban continued to take over more and more territory. The idea that this situation is anything remotely like Korea or Japan or Germany, or that the the Taliban would have continued not to attack American troops after the deal to withdraw was reneged on, is the most intelligence-insulting nonsense imaginable. But then so is every argument for continuing this massively failed war.

great piece on the myth that it would be possible to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely without escalation.

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