US bases in Afghanistan for decades?

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The 51st state (Getty)

Waiting on the Obama speech explaining this one.

Guardian piece Monday predicts that current US-Afghan talks will cement a very long-term deal on presence [hat tip to World Politics Review Media Roundup].

American and Afghan officials are locked in increasingly acrimonious secret talks about a long-term security agreement which is likely to see US troops, spies and air power based in the troubled country for decades. [italics mine]

This is described officially as a “strategic partnership,” but nobody in their right mind would describe it as such. It’s a dependency – pure and simple. The longer we stay, the more we’ll infantilize the system. Ten years in and virtually everything we’ve set about to create is still described as “fragile” – meaning it collapses and disappears the minute we pull out.

The only point in making these interventions is to clear away the bad actors that prevent globalization’s embrace. That demand is there regionally, and I’m not just talking about Pakistan and “strategic depth.” We just have refused to engage and accommodate that demand, because we can’t pick India over Pakistan and we can’t pick China over India and we can’t pick Russia over China and we can’t pick the Iranians over anybody.

So we pretend we can integrate Afghanistan on our own, in some solitaire version of the “great game” – and we’re failing in one colossally historic “duh!”

There are several bloody north Mexican states that I’d take as our 51st union member before that money-sucking basket case. This is a strategically bad move.The only lock-in we need on access is just enough space to launch our business into NW Pakistan. Anything more is sheer liability, but only because we refuse to realistically regionalize the solution set. Obama & Co. have been as strategically unimaginative on this subject as Bush-Cheney.

This is mindless “interest creep”: we go, we do some business, and then we imagine it’s ours to own forever.

Meanwhile, there is better and more business to be done in the Arab world right now. With all that low-hanging fruit, we find ourselves stuck with this rotten apple.

Once again, we see the utility of pragmatists in the White House instead of strategic thinkers. Best not to get too involved in that “vision thing.”

You know what happens when you try to keep all the juggled balls in the air? You end up with a lot of balls.

We reached success when the Iraqis started demanding we leave. That is what success looks like – not pretty, not perfect, actually kind of awkward.

The Afghans want us to stay – after a decade of trying. That is failure staring you in the face.

I honestly believe we’ve managed to replace Pakistan as the biggest reason why Afghanistan remains unstable. We are in love with our own image of “indispensability.”