Politics sometimes makes for strange bedfellows. And since war is the continuation of politics by other means, war sometimes makes for strange bedfellows too. Nearly 20 years since the US invasion of Afghanistan to apprehend Osama bin Laden, US forces remain in the country. Only now, instead of fighting against bin Laden’s Taliban protectors, the US military is providing military support to the Taliban. Why?
One old saying that bears remembering is that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And in the 19 years since 9/11, the US has developed new enemies whose defeat is of more pressing concern than defeating the Taliban. In this case, it’s ISIS, which is at war with the Taliban in Afghanistan. And since the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know, the US military is using its drones to attack ISIS forces and provide air cover for the Taliban, helping Taliban attacks against ISIS.
While there is allegedly no outright coordination between US forces and Taliban forces, remember that the US remains in active negotiations with the Taliban to try to hammer out a peace accord in Afghanistan. And for all we know, that might lead to an agreement to pull out US forces and allow Afghanis once again to regulate their own affairs.
This entire episode illustrates once again the futility of trying to act as the world’s policeman. After two decades of fighting in Afghanistan, the US military is now finding itself fighting with the same people it once fought against. Of course, before the Taliban were our enemies, they were our friends, the mujahideen who fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
How many billions of dollars have been wasted and how many thousands of lives lost in this endless, pointless war? After decades of fighting, the US may very well end up leaving Afghanistan with nothing to show for it. The Taliban will likely once more control the country, and everything the US government will have done will be for naught. President Trump is right that we should pull out our troops and keep from wasting more money and more lives on a pointless war. This should be a lesson to policymakers that continuing to engage in pointless, wasteful conflicts like this is an exercise in futility and should be avoided at any cost.