The Fool's Errand in Afghanistan

American and Afghan officials in Afghanistan’s Farah province were holding an inauguration ceremony last Friday for new recruits to a village police force. As part of the ceremony, the new policemen were given weapons that they would use for training. As soon as one of the recruits, Mohammad Ismail, received his, he turned it on the American soldiers who were present, murdering two. This was the seventh such attack in two weeks — and each one is emblematic of just how foolish and wrongheaded our national adventure in Afghanistan has become.


Farah’s provincial police chief, Agha Noor Kemtoz, explained: “As soon as they gave the weapon to Ismail to begin training, suddenly he took the gun and opened fire toward the U.S. soldiers.” Ismail had just joined the Afghan Local Police force the Sunday before his attack. Nonetheless, according to the Associated Press, “the NATO-led coalition has said such attacks are anomalies stemming from personal disputes.”

They have gone even farther in other attempts at face-saving, claiming that the attackers are not part of the Afghan jihad against NATO forces. According to ABC News, “officials have said most of the attacks are motivated not by support for the Taliban, but for ‘private reasons’ including grievances against local Afghan commanders, ethnic feuds, and depression. Senior U.S. officials have insisted the attacks don’t indicate a high level of Taliban infiltration into the army.”

On the other hand, says the AP, “the supreme leader of the Taliban boasted on Thursday night that the insurgents are infiltrating the quickly expanding Afghan forces.”

Which explanation is more plausible: the Taliban’s or NATO’s? Is it really likely that over the five long days that Mohammad Ismail was involved with the Afghan Local Police he stored up such serious private grievances against Americans that, once he got a weapon, he had to start shooting? Or is it more likely that he was a member of the Taliban from the start, and joined the police in order to get close enough to Americans to kill as many as possible?


These murders keep happening because there is no reliable way to distinguish an Afghan Muslim who supports American troops from one who wants to murder them, and political correctness prevents authorities from making any attempt to do so anyway, because it would suggest that Islam is not a Religion of Peace. And so ever more U.S. troops are sacrificed to this madness.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama is urging Afghan President Hamid Karzai to come to a settlement with the Taliban, has secretly dropped charges in the case of a Florida man accused of funding the Pakistani Taliban, and is considering sending Taliban detainees back to Afghanistan as a gesture of goodwill.

This is manifest denial and self-delusion. “Grievances against local commanders, ethnic feuds, and depression”? Compare that to what a Taliban jihadist who murdered an American soldier, Ghazi Mahmood (“Warrior Mahmood”), says himself. When asked, “Are there others who will carry out attacks similar to what you have?,” Mahmood replied: “Yes. There are some people who are looking for the opportunity to kill infidels. They will carry out their jihad and join us.”

Note also that Mahmood characterizes the Americans as enemies of his religion. Yet American authorities insist that this conflict has nothing to do with religion, and that even to study Islam in order to understand the motives and goals of people like Mahmood is unacceptable. Thus have Muslim Brotherhood elements in the U.S. rendered us complacent and defenseless before the advancing jihad that we refuse to understand.


What are we fighting for at this point, anyway? The Taliban are never going to surrender. Joe Biden has said they are not the enemy, anyway. American forces have supervised the implementation of an Afghan constitution that enshrined Islamic law as the highest law of the land. Yet Islamic law is nothing like the democratic principles that we went into Afghanistan to defend (over here) and establish (over there). Sharia institutionalizes the oppression of women and non-Muslims, extinguishes the freedom of speech, and denies the freedom of conscience.

Was that what we were fighting for?

Nonetheless, America continued to pour out her blood and treasure for this repressive state, with no clear objective or mission in view other than a never-defined “victory.” No one has defined what victory would look like in Afghanistan. What would victory have looked like? What could it possibly have looked like? Has the Karzai regime ever allowed women to throw off their burqas and take their place in Afghan society as human beings equal in dignity to men?  Does the Karzai government, or any Afghan government that would follow it, ever intend to guarantee basic human rights to the tiny and ever-dwindling number of non-Muslims unfortunate enough to live within its borders?  Of course not.

And no matter how long American troops stay in Afghanistan, no Afghan regime is ever going to do such things.


In July, the U.S. designated Afghanistan a “major non-Nato ally.” According to the BBC, this gives the Afghans “preferential access to U.S. arms exports and defence co-operation.” Thus unless Afghanistan is stripped of this status, we could be funding the Taliban with billions annually for years to come. And so the next time an Afghan soldier murders a group of American troops, remember: you paid for his weapon.

(Thumbnail image on PJM homepage based on a modified photo by Northfoto /


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