If you seek an epitaph for America’s longest war, consider one bleak, pitiful sentence from an Associated Press report a few weeks ago:
Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) – A newly recruited Afghan village policeman opened fire on his American allies on Friday, killing two U.S. service members minutes after they handed him his official weapon in an inauguration ceremony.
In the old days of the Great Game, the Pashtun warrior was known for his low cunning. There’s still a market for that: Just ask the chaps who broke into the pathetically misnamed Camp Bastion last month, killed a Marine commander, and destroyed a squadron’s worth of Harriers in the most devastating attack on U.S. airpower since the Tet Offensive. But, for the most part, devious wiles are superfluous to requirements as America and its allies enter their twelfth year in Afghanistan. The village policeman is more typical. No cunning, no plotting required. The Americans fly to your country, come to your village, train you, and pay you. And then they give you the gun. And then you shoot them.
Until the Benghazi debacle, 2012 was an election campaign entirely free of foreign policy. Even after the fiasco, Mitt Romney contented himself with the conventional wisdom of national-security Republicans: Protect the Pentagon from budget cuts, order up another carrier. Nobody seriously argues we haven’t spent enough money in Afghanistan: Western military and aid spending accounts for 97 percent of the country’s GDP. The Hindu Kush has been carpet-bombed with dollar bills — almost all of them entirely wasted, as were whatever American taxpayers paid to train that village policeman and buy him a gun. A new carrier won’t change the central reality of the situation — that the most lavishly funded armed forces on the planet, of a country that outspends China, Britain, France, Russia, and all second-rank powers combined and accounts singlehandedly for over 40 percent of global military spending, can’t win any wars.