Open Letter to the US Senate on the Afghanistan War

This letter was sent to a number of United States Senators to advocate for a swift end to the war in Afghanistan.

Dear United States Senator X,   

            The war in Afghanistan is America’s longest engagement and it is dragging on with no end in sight. Because of its seeming permanence, it is understandable how it is always moved to the back burner but we as a nation can no longer do that. The release of the Afghanistan Papers late last year made the issue immediate. What they show is an unbroken chain of corruption on the part of our allies, overspending, fraudulently fudging numbers and an absolute lack of direction for our fine fighting force. We owe it to our soldiers because of the sacrifice we ask of them and we owe it to everyone who pays taxes because we fund it, to do better. If one thinks this assessment is exaggerated, a few snippets of the Washington Post’s findings are providing to assuage that notion. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/ )

  • We have been at war for nearly two decades.
  • Over 775,000 Americans have been deployed to the country.
  • 2,300 of those perished.
  • 20,589 more were wounded.
  • Between $934 billion and $978 billion has been spent.

If raw facts do not suffice, the following are quotation the Washington Post dug up in the same groundbreaking article:

  • 3 Star Army General Douglas Lute had the following to say:
    • “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,”
    • “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”
  • Army Colonel Bob Crowly had the following to say:
    • “Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”
  • Even more damning was what John Sopko, the head of the agency that did the investigation the Post reported on had to say:
    • “The American people have constantly been lied to.”
  • An anonymous advisor to US special forces also added this:
    • “They thought I was going to come to them with a map to show them where the good guys and bad guys live… It took several conversations for them to understand that I did not have that information in my hands. At first, they just kept asking: ‘But who are the bad guys, where are they?’”

What is needed to stop this madness is to negotiate a ceasefire and get American troops out of Afghanistan. Insurgencies like the one we face today are notorious to defeat by design. They aren’t trying to win in the most basic sense of the term; they are trying to outlast us. It is obvious that in a stand up fight, the Taliban and friends would be decimated by day’s end and they know that. So, they don’t allow one to develop. They hide and retreat whenever Americans hit them and fight at the time and place of their choosing. It would be too costly in lives and treasure to stamp out this insurgency to the point of it becoming impotent at this rate. Even if that route was chosen, civilian losses would undoubtedly rise unacceptably considering the difficulty to distinguish between civilian and combatant in this type of situation.

            Calls to end the Afghanistan War are invariably met with the notion that it creates a vacuum that more terrorists will fill –especially if the Taliban keep control of some of the country. CATO (https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/overcoming-inertia-why-its-time-end-war-afghanistan) was right to point out that the Taliban logically would want nothing to do with Al-Qaeda and other foreign jihadists since they draw western dismay and western missiles. One would think the last thing a fledgling government like a possible Taliban one would want is that kind of attention from the western powers. Beyond that, the same think tank noted that the terrorists don’t need a base the size of Afghanistan. Case in point, 9/11 was mostly planned in Hamburg, Germany. If the Taliban wouldn’t want the terrorists, Kabul most likely wouldn’t want a large terrorist operation in their backyard either (assuming the country was partitioned).

            The simplest solution to end the war is to negotiate a partition between the Taliban and Kabul and remove US troops when that happens. This has gone on too long. Too much blood and treasure has been spent. For the sake of all parties involved, I implore you as an American to throw your political clout behind renewed negotiations to put an end to this.

P.S. This email is not meant to be aggressive or prodding in any way and I apologize if it came off that way. I view the tone as one of urgency, not rudeness.

Yours in freedom,

Cruz K. M. Marquis

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