Bird’s Eye: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya: three invasions have produced three disasters. (Here, for example is a chart of Afghani opium production before and since the invasion.) It’s now a closed case that we were lured into Iraq by a lie, that Afghanistan is far worse than before we invaded, and that in Libya we replaced a tyrant with spreading chaos that no NATO country has shown any interest in helping with. That US politicians can still try to justify invention in Iran on humanitarian grounds is truly insane.
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, aka “Curveball”, an Iraqi defector who falsified testimony about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, confirms that he made the whole thing up in an interview airing this week on the BBC2 TV series, “Modern Spies.” The former chemical engineer’s “confidence trick” was used by the Bush administration to justify going to war with Iraq in 2003.
…But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”
* Libya: What the Intervention Has Wrought Rajan Menon Huffington Post
Libya’s current politics offer two lessons — ones we really shouldn’t have to learn yet again. First, military interventions that topple repressive regimes invariably offer occasions to observe, though at others’ expense, the law of unintended consequences. Second, the constituencies that clamor for such campaigns move quickly to other matters once those malign consequences become manifest.
The defenders of the Libyan intervention claim that the March 17 UN Security Council resolution authorized a no-flight zone in the face of imminent mass atrocities. But by now, no one seriously disputes that the assignment soon metamorphosed, allowing NATO and a few Persian Gulf states to take sides in a civil conflict, and in ways — targeting Mu’ammar Gaddafi’s forces, equipping and training the armed resistance, and even dispatching special forces — that proved decisive.
….Yet none of the above parties will suffer the consequences of what they enabled, from afar, in Libya. And if things go from bad to worse, they will doubtless say that Libyans were given a chance to start anew, but that they blew it… perhaps they just weren’t ready for democracy after all. The interventionists’ eagerness for military action stands in contrast to their minimal interest in perils of post-Gaddafi Libya…. A multitude of local militias fought during the war as independent units. Now the most powerful, from Misrata, Zawiya, and Zintan, have in effect become statelets. They refuse to relinquish their arms or obey the government and engage in regular skirmishes. The TNC, unelected, provisional, institutionally hollow, is powerless to demobilize these armed bands and to meld them into a national military, which exists in form but has little substance given the militias’ firepower.
* There Is No Need to Prolong the Inevitable Stephen Walt New York Times
The United States has been in Afghanistan for 11 years. Nearly 2,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed and 15,000 wounded trying to create a workable Afghan state, at a cost exceeding a half trillion dollars. Yet the U.S. has neither broken the back of the Taliban nor created effective Afghan institutions. The Karzai regime is still corrupt and incompetent and its security forces remain unreliable and infiltrated by insurgents.
Will fighting on in Afghanistan lead to a meaningful victory? No. Does it matter? Also no. Nearly 70 percent of Americans now think the war is a mistake. They are right. Staying longer will not lead to victory, because the Taliban have sanctuaries and allies in Pakistan and will simply wait us out. Their ideology may be deeply objectionable, but they are an integral part of Afghan society while we are intruders from afar. It would be nice if we could protect Afghan civilians from further strife or future repression, but trying to do so will cost additional hundreds of billions of dollars, take a decade or more, and could still fail. The sad truth is: we do not know how to create stable governance in that unhappy country. Building an effective Afghan state is ultimately up to the Afghanis, not us.