Michael Yon suggests that we leave Afghanistan, stat

Summary:  Today we have two articles by Michael Yon from his online magazine, reposted here with his generous permission.  He says its time to leave Afghanistan.  I agree. Once free from outside interference, their civil war that began in 1978 might eventually burn itself out. And we can turn our attention to vital unmet national needs.

Michael Yon 2011


  1. “Time to Leave Afghanistan”
  2. “Afghanistan: cut losses”
  3. An earlier correct prediction by Yon
  4. About Michael Yon
  5. Other articles about defeat in Af-Pak
  6. Other posts about defeat in Af-Pak

Michael Yon’s honesty, clarity, and on-the-ground perspective have shown us what’s happening in our wars far in advance of reports from the mainstream news media. Now he reports on the last chapter of our war in Afghanistan.

(1)  “Time to Leave Afghanistan“, 21 January 2012

This war is going to turn out badly. We are wasting lives and resources while the United States decays and other threats emerge.  We led the horse to water.

Importantly, there is no value in pretending that Pakistan is an ally. We should wish the best of luck to the Afghans, and the many peaceful Pakistanis, and accelerate our withdrawal of our main battle force. The US never has been serious about Afghanistan. Under General Petraeus we were starting to gain ground, but the current trajectory will land us in the mud.

The enemies will never beat us in Afghanistan.  Force on force, the Taliban are weak by comparison.  Yet this is their home.  There is only so much we can do at this extreme cost for the many good Afghan people.  We must reduce our main effort and concentrate on other matters.  Time to come home.

(2)  “Afghanistan: Cut Losses“, 23 August 2012

Most people likely wish to hear that everything will turn out right in Afghanistan.  The reality is that it will not end well.  This bastard war will have a thousand fathers and nobody will claim it.


Michael Yon 2011

In 2009, I wrote, “If a writer wants to make money, he should avoid truth and tell people what they want to hear.  Yet to win the war, tell the truth.”

Since 2006, at minimum, the AfPak war on the whole has been going down.  Only in 2011 did I see some flicker of hope for a change of direction.  In my view, that flicker has been snuffed.  And writing truthfully about Afghanistan will never pay the bills, because I have nothing to say that people want to hear.  It is just bad news atop more bad news.

Our continued losses in Afghanistan are for nothing.  We should continue with a smaller presence to harass and kill terrorists, and losses from that are expected and part of the fight.  But the ongoing larger war is going nowhere.  We have been there since 2001.  This is 2012.  There is no vaguely discernible end.  We should look at Afghanistan as a century-long project, to be put on a far backburner.  The United States has problems to deal with at home.

Michael Yon 2011

(3)  About Michael Yon

— From his About page.

Michael Yon is a former Green Beret, native of Winter Haven, Fl. who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004. Few reporters have spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars.  Michael’s dispatches from the frontlines have earned him the reputation as the premier independent combat journalist of his generation.  His work has been featured on “Good Morning America,” The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, ABC, FOX, as well as hundreds of other major media outlets all around the world.

Michael had previously written a critically acclaimed memoir, Danger Close.  He was authoring another book when two of his friends died on consecutive days in Iraq (one of them being Winter Haven native Scott Helvenston).   Following accounts in the American press, Michael became concerned that we were losing the war.  At the same time, friends in the military said that the media was not telling the whole story.  Not wanting to take sides in the increasingly acrimonious argument over the war, Michael simply wanted to learn the truth for himself, and to report without fear or favor.  He decided to go to Iraq, financing his trip from his own pocket for more than half a year, then eventually receiving generous contributions from readers of his online magazine: Michael Yon Online.

As early as February 2005, Michael described the violence in Iraq as a civil war.  In 2006, he said we were losing in Afghanistan.  In 2007, he was one of the first to claim the success of “the Surge.”  When he first voiced these opinions, they were extremely controversial.  Now they are conventional wisdom. In 2008 Michael published his second book, Moment of Truth in Iraq, which is packed with exciting and heart-rending tales from the battlefields.

(4)  A previous correct prediction by Michael Yon

(5)  Other articles about our defeat in Afghanistan

  1. The Definition of a Quagmire“, Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 20 September 2012
  2. Diminishing Returns“, Fred Kaplan, Slate, 21 September 2012 — “Our efforts in Afghanistan were probably doomed from the start. But now it’s over.”
  3. Defense hawk wants out of Afghanistan: ‘We’re killing kids who don’t need to die’“, Seattle Times, 21 September 2012 — “One of the strongest defense hawks in Congress {Rep C.W. Bill Young, R-FL} says the US should withdraw its forces from Afghanistan amid increasing signs that even Republican proponents of the war believe it’s no longer worth the cost.”

(6)  Other posts about our defeat in Afghanistan

  1. The good news about COIN in Afghanistan is really bad news, 20 August 2008
  2. The trinity of modern warfare at work in Afghanistan, 13 July 2009
  3. The beginning of the end to our war in Afghanistan, 13 August 2009
  4. How many troops would it take to win in Afghanistan?, 15 September 2009
  5. Kubler-Ross gives us a good perspective on the evolution of the Afghanistan War,19 October 2010
  6. Another echo in Afghanistan of the Vietnam War. Will we hear it, and learn?, 8 February 2012
  7. The end nears for our expedition to Afghanistan. Time to reflect on what went wrong., 29 February 2012
  8. Chuck Spinney describes the next phases of the Afghan War: defeat, retreat, & demobilization, 9 April 2012
  9. Mission Failure: Afghanistan, 4 August 2012
  10. Hidden history of our first step into the Afghanistan War. It’s still important for us to understand., 6 August 2012


2 thoughts on “Michael Yon suggests that we leave Afghanistan, stat”

  1. Since we’re going to stay in Afghanistan, the real question is: how many other endless unwinnable foreign wars will America engage in while the Afghan quagmire continues?

    Will America invade Pakistan? India? Syria? The UAE? Oman? Somalia (again)? Mexico?

    Ever since the U.S. military assumed de facto control of America after 9/11, war has become the health of the state. The moment we end one war overseas, we must begin another — it’s the full employment program for the hordes of piggies slurping at the U.S. military trough. Now that Barack Cheney has bought into the “1%” doctrine that America must preemptively attack any enemy if there’s even a 1% possibility of another 9/11, this makes the entire planet America’s battlefield and every nation on earth our mortal foe.

    Will it end with Americans finally turning on themselves and killing one another? One can only wonder. There’s a cancer in the American soul, and one suspects it will end only one way — with fathers strangling their children and wives murdering their husbands in an orgy of insane self-destruction. Once everyone becomes a potential enemy combatant, what other end result can we expect?

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