The Definition of Insanity Is …

Well, I’m sure that you’re familiar with it, so I won’t repeat it. I will, however, link to this, and let you decide whether maybe—just maybe—some insanity may be at work when it comes to the formulation and implementation of the Obama administration’s policy regarding Afghanistan. Let’s give the microphone over to Kori Schake, writing in Foreign Policy:

… The President conveyed early that he cared about the timeline, not the objectives of the war, leading all affected parties to hedge against us. President Obama chose not to draw attention to the malfeasance of the 2009 election that returned Hamid Karzai to power, instead over-investing in the incumbent. President Obama cared less about risk — either to our forces or to achievement of the objectives for which they were fighting — than about diversion from “nation building here at home,” evidenced by his limits on resources requested by commanders. His diplomats never were able to deliver on either of our strategy’s seminal political objectives: Pakistani cooperation and Afghan governance. His administration promised a “civilian surge” that never materialized. His administration sprayed money ineffectually through aid programs uncoordinated with our strategy’s objectives and inadequately supervised to prevent colossal corruption (the Special Inspector General’s report should infuriate every American taxpayer).

His exit strategy was contingent on Afghan security forces being able to undertake the fight, yet the fact that only one of 23 Afghan brigades are capable of independent operations has not affected either the timeline of our withdrawal or the size of the force that would remain in the country. And now the Obama administration is negotiating a long-term stationing agreement that would consolidate around 6,000 U.S. forces at a single base outside Kabul to conduct raids throughout the country and train small numbers of Afghan security forces. But the Karzai government seems unlikely to allow U.S. forces to retain immunity, likely considering himself better off if he appears to force our retrenchment than simply be the victim of it.

As Schake notes, these are all similar to mistakes the Obama administration made regarding Iraq. Why would the president and his team repeat them? “The saddest and likely truest answer is that he doesn’t consider them mistakes. Small wonder parties to the conflict have been positioning themselves against U.S. abandonment of our allies and our objectives in Afghanistan.”

  1. Omid Moghadam

    You are correct Pejman, if the objective of the Obama administration was victory and stability in Afghanistan, then none of the actions stated would be logical. However correct, that would require political and military actions that would be unpopular with the left at home (needed to win elections) and the institutions that they control abroad. Obama is much more interested in the optics of his presidency than long term effects of his decisions.

  2. Tom Lindholtz

    What’s the story? You’re surprised? You’re disappointed? If Obama can screw things up, he will. Maybe out of malice, maybe out of ideology, maybe out of incompetence; but for the next four years there will be no news out of Washington.

  3. FloppyDisk90

    I say we leave and let the tribal dimwits in that country get back to doing what they do best:  killing each other.

  4. Paul Erickson

    The definition of insanity, turned in upon itself:

    Insanity is continually invoking the definition of insanity, expecting people to stop doing the same things over and over.

    ;-)

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