"Yes, We Can. In the 'graveyard of empires' we are fighting a war we can win" in the Weekly Standard

 Yes, We Can

In the 'graveyard of empires,' we are fighting a war we can win

The Weekly Standard 03/23/2009, Volume 014, Issue 26

by Max Boot, Frederick Kagan, and Kimberly Kagan





If you believe the headlines, Afghanistan is "the graveyard of empires," a "quagmire" and a "fiasco," the place where President Barack Obama will meet his "Vietnam." In the media's imagination, the Taliban are on the march, and Kabul is on the verge of falling to a resurgent insurgency that already controls much of the countryside. Increasing numbers of voices, on both the left and the right, counsel that the war is unwinnable and that we need to radically "downsize" our objectives in order to salvage something from a failing war effort lest we go the way of the Russians or British, previous conquerors who foundered in this merciless land of violence and fanaticism.

Evidence to support the pessimists isn't hard to find. Violence has increased every year since 2001. The United Nations recently reported that there was an especially big jump last year, with civilian deaths up nearly 40 percent, from 1,523 in 2007 to 2,118 in 2008. Coalition deaths were up 27 percent, rising to 294 in 2008 from 232 in 2007. Because of the improving situation in Iraq, there have been a number of months when more U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the number of Afghans surveyed by ABC, the BBC, and the German network ARD who said that their country was headed in the right direction fell to 40 percent, down from 54 percent in 2007, with security rated as by far the worst problem, outpacing corruption and the economy.


This article originally appeared in The Weekly Standard.

Additional Off-site Authors: 
Max Boot, Frederick Kagan