Two different, but mutually reinforcing, newspaper takes Sunday on the U.S. role in Afghanistan:
— In a lengthy editorial, the New York Times says it’s time to speed up the U.S. military’s withdrawal, well before the 2015 deadline for all combat troops to leave. “It is time for United States forces to leave Afghanistan on a schedule dictated only by the security of the troops,” the newspaper opines. “It should not take more than a year. The United States will not achieve even President Obama’s narrowing goals, and prolonging the war will only do more harm.”
It sounds like the Times‘ editors, before sitting down to write that editorial, had read Greg Jaffe’s maddening front-page story in the Washington Post. Jaffe, who has provided vivid snapshots of the conflict in recent years from Afghan soil, writes of his recent visit with a U.S. Army platoon in the village of Jaghatu in Ghazni province:
How does a war end? In Jaghatu, these soldiers are learning one way. It ends with resignation, isolation, boredom and the soldiers of 3rd Platoon striding out of the chow tent and into the bright light of a warm September day…In Jaghatu, U.S. troops don’t charge up hills after the enemy anymore. They don’t search houses, and they rarely meet with Afghan village elders. Those jobs are supposed to be done by the Afghans….They eat Baskin-Robbins ice cream that floats to earth in weekly parachute drops.
The pointless nature of their mission is clear in Jaffe’s finely-wrought piece, especially for anyone with a loved one there. Jaffe is leaving the Post’s Pentagon beat, although he says he hopes to continue occasional reporting from Afghanistan. Battleland does, too.