It is all over for the United States in Afghanistan except for negotiating surrender terms and a humiliating retreat; an exit parade of American vehicles as Pakistanis cheer their victory over us, courtesy of their Taliban proxies.
Yet the incompetence continues, even as the year’s second American soldier was killed in Afghanistan.
Quite literally adding insult to injury, right now, legislation known as the “End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act” offered by President Trump and the Senate GOP leadership includes about $15 million of American taxpayer money for “border security programs” in Pakistan while the Taliban, who are supported by Pakistan, are killing Americans.
You can be sure that the $15 million will contribute to more American dead and wounded, while Pakistan laughs at the success of their calculated duplicity.
Shortly before his death in 2015, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, the former head of Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, a committed Islamist, known as the “godfather of the Taliban,” said in an Urdu language television interview: “One day, history will say that the ISI drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan with the help of USA and another sentence will be recorded that says the ISI drove the USA out of Afghanistan with the help of the USA.”
The Pakistani audience roared with laughter and applauded in approval.
If U.S. leaders would read Urdu language media as I do, they might be astonished by the level of virulent anti-American rhetoric in Pakistan and their unabashed boasting of defeating a second superpower in Afghanistan.
Since creating the Taliban in the 1990s, Pakistan has never stopped supporting their joint war against Afghanistan.
There are at least four Taliban command and control headquarters (Shuras) inside Pakistan along its border with Afghanistan; Gerdi Jangle near Chaghi, Quetta, Miram Shah and Peshawar.
There are numerous infiltration routes into Afghanistan, where Taliban movements are unimpeded by the Pakistani military including Bahram Chah into Helmand province, Gaz Nall near Nushki and Shorawak into Kandahar province and Badini into Zabul province.
The Taliban actively recruit from Pakistani religious schools (madrasas), which have proliferated by the thousands since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
Wounded Taliban are treated in Pakistani hospitals, one just recently for which I have a name and a photograph.
We lost in Afghanistan primarily because, after an initial rout of the Taliban, we chose to fight the wrong war in the wrong way.
It was a toxic combination of neglect, wishful thinking, an uncoordinated strategy, unaccountable spending and an unjustified love affair with counterinsurgency doctrine, which was incorrectly applied to what was clearly a proxy war being waged by Pakistan.
We are about to witness a status quo-anti, returning to pre-9/11 conditions, Taliban control in Kabul and Afghanistan as a client state of Pakistan.
This time the consequences for U.S. national security will be far graver.
The number of radical Islamic groups, particularly inside Pakistan, is far greater than it was in 2001. Jihadis will flood into Afghanistan from all over the globe.
In addition, America’s strategic position in the region will be severely weakened as Pakistan’s true ally, China, asserts economic and military dominance over South Asia.
Of course, there will be a near endless amount of political spin emanating from our incompetent leadership in Washington, D.C., praising the sacrifice of our brave soldiers and touting some modern version of “peace in our time,” at least until Afghanistan fads from the news cycle.
But, make no mistake, thousands of American lives will be lost or ruined and over a trillion dollars spent — in vain.
Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa.