Who’s Ready for the Next 20-Year War?… the U.S. Inspector General to Afghanistan Believes It’ll Happen

Tithi Luadthong/
Tithi Luadthong/

WWII lasted roughly six years, the Korean War for three, and the U.S. spent eight years fighting the North Vietnamese. The Iraq/Afghanistan/Mid East fiasco took a full twenty years and multiple administrations to finally figure out that it couldn’t be won, and this is concerning. Some say we aren’t actually celebrating our U.S. troop’s homecoming as much as we are a short period of peace before the next long-term war that can’t be won raises its head. What’s to stop the inevitable?

John Sopko, the special inspector general assigned to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, tore the U.S. government a new one over the way they’ve handled operations in Afghanistan for the past two decades. Every other day they were attempting to achieve something different before finishing what they had previously started.

Sopko said the military was given unrealistic timelines in which to complete missions which often resulted in troops being sent into battle unprepared and not knowing what to expect.

He totally blames the ineffectiveness of Afghan security forces to hold back Taliban fighters directly on the mishandled U.S. withdrawal which falls squarely in the lap of Joe Biden.

“You know, you really shouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been reading our reports for at least the nine years … that I’ve been there,” Sopko said at a Defense Writers Group meeting. “We’ve been highlighting problems with our train, advise, and assist mission with the Afghan military.” 

Sopko said the war has changed faces too many times since 2001 and we blindly followed it wherever we let it take us rather than steering the wheel.

The initial goal was to topple Saddam Hussein’s empire which would have been payback for 9/11, except oops, he wasn’t the right guy, though he was a tyrant just the same. Then things got confusing.

We needed to set our gun sites on the Taliban since they were the ones who arranged for al-Qaida to train in Afghanistan, all the while ISIS was running around chopping heads off.

This, then, turned into a nation-building effort to get Afghanistan back on its feet which involved fighting the many new up-and-coming insurgent groups that were all vying for their share of power. 

Part of this effort involved training and equipping Afghan security forces with the best of the best war machines at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. This was the same equipment they abandoned when they turned tail and ran.

Following WWII, the U.S. launched the Marshall Plan which was meant to help rebuild the entirety of Europe. The plan pales in comparison to what the U.S. has socked into the tiny Muslim nation of Afghanistan, roughly the size of Texas. 

“Every time we took a look at the assessment tools, our U.S. military would change the goalposts and say, ‘Oh no, no, that’s not the test you want to do,’ to [sic] raising serious questions about the sustainability of all this high-tech hardware we gave them,” Sopko said. “And to the real serious problem, that we focused on the more urgent warfighting and not looking at the what I call the ‘long tail,’ the whole issue of logistics.”

With Afghanistan on the verge of financial collapse, and the Taliban screaming for world recognition (while at the same time inflicting horrible human abuses), Sopko said the U.S. is destined to one day hit the repeat button. And it may not take that long to have to do it.

Afghanistan came full circle as though U.S. and allied troops were never there. As the situation continues to deteriorate, there’s only one way to stop it and we all know what that would involve. 

Maybe we could fix Afghanistan this time around, but if history were to repeat itself, the U.S. nor any other military force would be able to do so. And once we’re back over there,  well…we’ve all seen how that works out…