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News Link • WAR: About that War

Why Can't the World's Best Military Win Its Wars?

• AntiWar.com by Arnold Isaacs

Still, it's a place to start. Take a headline from nearly a decade ago – July 2009, to be exact. By then, the American war in Afghanistan (the second Afghan War of our era) was already years old and not exactly going well. "U.S. Marines pour into Helmand," went that headline, "in biggest offensive against Taliban for five years." That July, in the first year of the Obama administration, more than 4,000 Marines were being dispatched to the heartlands of Helmand Province to secure Afghanistan's major opium-poppy-growing region. That was, of course, nearly eight years after the Bush administration had declared the country "liberated" by an American invasion. By the fall of 2014, after five more years of fighting the Taliban and advising Afghan security forces in Helmand – and hundreds of American deaths – those troops were finally withdrawn from "one of the few bright spots in the Afghan war." However, a corrupt Afghan government and its security forces, filled with "ghost soldiers" and "ghost police" (mostly paid for with U.S. funds), couldn't even hold onto their paychecks, no less the parts of the province that had been "liberated" from the Taliban and the remarkably irrepressible opium trade that went with it. Slowly, much of the province fell back into Taliban hands as opium farming only spread and flourished.

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