When the U.S. attacked Afghanistan the purpose was to remove the Taliban government which had given guest status to the AlQaeda leadership. Only a few weeks later, that job was done.
The alleged purpose of the occupation of Afghanistan then changed into hunting down AlQaeda remnants. But those had already fled to Pakistan and elsewhere.
The U.S. military instead started to hunt and kill former Taliban members even when those were just local farmers or former Taliban leaders who had given up any fighting and were willing to cooperate. This manhunt and the accompanying torture and killing of civilians revived the Taliban movement and a new revolt, now against the U.S. occupation and its puppet government, started. The alleged purpose of the U.S. military in Afghanistan changed again.
The task was now to fight the new anti-government forces while building an Afghan army that would be able to later take care of that job. But finally peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban leadership started. An end of the inner Afghan conflict is slowly coming into sight.
But now, as pressure on the military to leave Afghanistan grows, a new threat conveniently springs up just in time to argue for a further occupation:
The emergence of militants in Afghanistan claiming allegiance to Islamic State could disrupt White House plans to remove the remaining U.S. troops in that country by the end of next year.Islamic State has provided new ammunition to Pentagon and Afghan officials seeking to persuade the White House to reverse its decision to pull out U.S. troops. Their argument, in effect, is that Islamic State could grow and the same security collapse that occurred in Iraq could happen in Afghanistan if the U.S. removes its troops as planned.
Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said Sunday that President Obama’s pledge to withdraw most of the 9,800 troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2016 was made before the appearance of Islamic State. He said the militant group has contributed to a worsening overall security situation in the country this year.
The threat of the somewhat imaginary Islamic State group in Afghanistan is vague. Those who are said to have joined it are former Taliban. The overall picture and number of potential enemies has thereby not changed at all. There has also been no significant operation yet of Islamic State followers in Afghanistan. They have likely killed less Afghan troops and civilians than the U.S. does with its regular friendly fire mistakes:
NATO forces launched an airstrike on an Afghan army outpost Monday, killing eight Afghan soldiers and wounding five others in an apparent friendly-fire incident, local officials told NBC News.
A later statement by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense said that helicopters belonging to the U.S.-led military coalition had come under enemy attack in the area and returned fire, mistakenly hitting the army post, according to The Associated Press.
The U.S. military has recently intensified its air strikes in Afghanistan. But air strikes can never solve the issues on the ground nor can foreign troops. Only the local people can. There are no real justifications for the U.S. military to stay in Afghanistan. The inner Afghan conflict has been going on since at least 1978. It will take another decade or even longer to calm down. There will always be this or that group that disagrees with the Afghan government and takes up arms. Outer forces with whatever motive would only prolong that time frame.
The U.S. military should be ordered out of Afghanistan and the country shielded from further outer military intervention. Only then can it find back to peace.