Predictably, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham take to the pages of the Washington Post to argue for increasing our troops in Afghanistan and continuing the war there:
Make no mistake: Afghans are fighting ferociously to defend their country from our common enemies. At the same time, we must recognize that the United States is still at war in Afghanistan against the terrorist enemies who attacked our nation on Sept. 11 and their ideological heirs. We must act accordingly.
Unfortunately, in recent years, we have tied the hands of our military in Afghanistan. Instead of trying to win, we have settled for just trying not to lose.
Time and time again, we saw troop withdrawals that seemed to have more to do with U.S. politics than conditions on the ground. The fixation with “force management levels” in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq and Syria, seemed more about measuring troop counts than measuring success.
I wish they’d put a little meat on those bones. How many U. S. soldiers do they think are needed in Afghanistan? Why will more soldiers be able to succeed where they weren’t able to succeed in the past? It’s not as though we’ve made much progress. We’ve been fighting the war there for 16 years and arguably where we were 8 years ago except for the dead. Nearly 2,000 young Americans are dead now who might otherwise be alive.
What is needed in Afghanistan is a change in the mission rather than just mindlessly increasing our troops and fighting on. I don’t believe there is any hope of counter-insurgency succeeding there and there never has been. We need to think hard about why we’re there.
While I think there’s a case for an ongoing counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan, I believe that the evidence supporting the possibility of success in a counter-insurgency mission is something between slim and nonexistent.