Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Behold, the wages of a speech

It is like watching a yard you once cared for slowly fade to weeds, dead spots, and brambles.

As we have discussed for over 5 1/2 years, this was all foreseen. When you retreat under fire, this is what happens.

Sudarsan Raghavan at WaPo has a heartbreaking story about the fruit of this administration's shift in December 2009, now that it is starting to ripen.
Across Afghanistan, tens of thousands of people are once again on the move. It’s a grim deja vu of the years of civil war and Taliban rule, when masses of Afghans flocked to refugee camps. What’s different now is that much of this desperate migration from rural areas to cities is unfolding in Afghanistan’s northeast, reflecting the conflict’s shift from conventional fighting zones in the south and east.
The new refugees are also a bleak symbol of how the shape of the fight has changed since the U.S.-led NATO mission formally ended combat operations last year. Afghan security forces, now backed by less American air support, are engaged in more fierce ground battles with insurgents, trapping civilians in the paths of mortars, rockets and bullets. With the Taliban fragmented and new militant groups surfacing, including the Islamic State, the number of front lines has surged around the country. Civilian casualties are at record levels.
The exodus has now reached levels unprecedented since the Taliban regime’s demise in late 2001. Nearly a million Afghans — about 3 percent of the population — have been driven by conflict to other parts of the nation.
And after nearly 14 years of conflict — and with crises in Syria, Iraq and South Sudan competing for the world’s attention and dollars — “donor fatigue” has set in, aid workers say. Halfway into the year, the United Nations has received less than one-third of the $405 million it has requested from the international community to respond to Afghanistan’s various humanitarian problems.
In the first five months of this year, doctors treated three times as many patients for conflict-related injuries as in the same period last year. On this day, every bed was full. Last month, over a four-day period, doctors treated 77 patients injured by clashes, one-third of whom were women and children.
This is the future our leaders chose. This is what we warned would happen if we did not have the strategic patience to play the long game.

This next pull quote is a nice vignette of what Shape-Clear-Hold-Build, district by district, was designed to avoid - and what became inevitable following President Obama's speech at West Point in December 2009.
“I am worried about getting shot again,” said Ghafoor, his eyes downcast as he lay on a bed in the hospital ward. “I don’t care if the Taliban or the government rules. All I want is security.”
“My whole life was a few hens and a cow,” said Jamillah. “I have lost all of them, as well as my son and my home. How can I go back?”
This too is Obama's legacy.

If you thought the Islamic State found fertile ground in Syria and Sunni Iraq - wait until they build partnerships with the Taliban. Wait until the Iranians move in to Herat and the Shi-ite Hazara heartland of the country to fight against the Islamic State aligned Sunni tribes.

Yes, a legacy of a feckless, shortsighted, and self-referential foreign and defense policy.

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