Eyewitness to America’s Longest War, After Others Have Gone

Mar 01, 2017 · 43 comments
SDExpat (Panama)
The US & MSM have a bad case of ADD that hopefully proves fatal. They love the rush of patriotism when their government tells them that there is evil in the world directed precisely at them (remember the rush of Bush standing on a pile of rubble that was the twin towers and calling for a crusade [I believe he only used that word once to describe the war he would start, it cut too close to the bone]?). They were inspired by the 'shock and awe' of the US military destroying a country in one fell swoop. I think I remember that was when a dummy cruise missile made a crater near the hotel where reporters were staying. But after the initial show there are few real reporters left to actually report on the boring reality part of the war.
Jamil M Chaudri (Huntington, WV)
The killing field of Afghana are still serving their purpose. The only difference between NOW and THEN could be explained like this:
1. Less number of Foreign Occupying troops (American and its NATO partners in crime) the less the cost per Afghan killed. Also, he less danger to Foreign Occupiers. While reducing the number of troops, the Western occupiers have increase their KIILING Power. More Afghans are being killed than ever before. As the number of Afghans killed increases, there are less of them to be KILLED.
2. The less the number of Western Reporters in Afghania, the better for the Occupying Forces. The occupiers kill 1000 Afghans civilians, and the world is told that ONE Taliban committed suicide.
3. It is the American wish to MAKE it the LONGEST American war. The killing will continue till either the NO AGHAN IS LEFT STANDING or the American occupation exceeds 20 years. Mind you, perhaps the Trumpians wish to make it the American 100 years war. America has to break all records.
Noam Goldstein (Sao Paulo)
European American (Midwest)
"But Afghanistan is now America’s longest war..."

NOT! "The Vietnam War (Vietnamese...was a war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975." [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War]

The Vietnam War lasted for 19 years 6 months and 29 days.

To date, the conflicts in Afghanistan have been going on for 15 years 5 months and 27 days.

The U.S. involvement in the "war" in Afghanistan has a ways to go - 4 years 2 months and 2 days - before becoming "America's longest conflict" so, journalists, opinion writers and editors, especially you editors, do the research and do stop trying to revise history.
mikecody (Niagara Falls NY)
We also must consider the Indian Wars, which lasted for at least 107 years if one counts the wars west of the Mississippi, or even longer if one considers the eastern wars as well.
Rod Nordland
Vietnam started as an American war in either 61 or 63 depending on your point of view, not in 55 when it was a French affair. That’s 14 or 12 years; Afghanistan is now 16 and counting.
Rafael Cordero (Valladolid, Mexico)
I had to admit I saw the movie. It's just amother silly romantic movie which uses the invasion as background and the correspondence activity as an excuse to pretend some intellectuality. The movie reflects the shallowness, egotism and disregard for others of the Ametican society. We are suppose to care about this reporter and her problems and not about what is really happening in Afghanistan. The reason of the presence of US military is unimportant what matters is that they have to defend from irrational savages. She shows the superiority and benevolance of the americans with condescending attitudes and she fiigures out the reasons of a group of la local women, because they are so good at understtanding other cultures. The image of the Afgahns is a kid who fools good hearted americans and a lecherous corrupted goverment official. The movie is outrageous propaganda. But apperenttly a reporter of the Times considers it a worth representation.
edg (nyc)
the times did not even have a bureau in pakistan till 2001!
JG (Denver)
What we really need is to get the hell out of there. This war has been so senseless and so costly it has become a drag in every sense of the word. I stopped reading about it.
Asad (Karachi)
Hey JG from Denver, it must be really nice to invade a country and then choose to just "get the hell out of there". Unfortunately other people living in the region can't afford to do the same.
John Savage (The Great USA)
Who gives a flying one about the people of Afghanistan?? All I care about is our troops that have to deal with religious zealots stuck in the 5th century. They did not choose to go there.
The people of Afghanistan choose to live that way. Let them.
Splunge (East Jabip)
Wait a minute! We're still in Afghanistan? I thought Osama bin Laden was dead?!
Daedalus (Rochester, NY)
Based on the description of life at the Taverna, it looks like Lunchtime O'Booze and his ilk are still a major element in journalism.

Now Kabul is no longer like 1959 Havana. Oh the humanity!!
kirilov (san francisco)
Whatever it is it's not a war. Only congress can declare war and hasn't done so since 1941. Maybe it's a "police action." And the pentagon, having learned its lesson in Vietnam, no longer allows unfettered access to any conflict zone. With no military draft and no pictures of dead Americans and little interest or awareness among the general population this affair, and others like it, can go on forever.
Dudeist Priest (Ottawa)
Think about this: everyone who died or was disabled by that war suffered loss for nothing. Especially the fools at Taverna du Liban who thought magical thinking would save them from the barbarians.
rudolf (new york)
Every single person I met at the US Embassy, Kabul, had a ball. Good food, swimming pool, tennis, double salary, flights back to Mom every three months, and most important booze by the gallon. Certainly ISAF HQ was right next door and every single day flags half mast for soldiers killed but nobody cared.
none (U.S.)
People certainly displayed a variety of coping mechanisms while stationed at the Embassy, but speaking from my experience there and those of my colleagues we were intensely dedicated to our work, to supporting Afghanistan, and we mourned deeply for military (and civilian) losses; many embassy and USAID staff were embedded with military at the provincial and district levels and working hand in hand and not the frivolous war zone partiers you allege in your comment.
Brent Jones (Oak Park il USA)
Maybe we need a surge in journalists. Dan Rather once visited Afghanistan dressed as an Afghan. He is back as an independent journalist. Let's send him in.
Stourley Kracklite (White Plains, NY)
mmm, I'm thinking Dick Cheney sans body armor. Backed by Paul Wolfowitz. If you are looking to send in a journalist out of spite toward that profession, then I recommend William Kristol.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
Longest war because of geography? The enemy has changed, hasn't it?
AE (California)
Not covering this very long (too long) war, means more and more Americans just forget about it. We need this coverage, even if it's only from the "over rated"NYT.
C.C. Kegel,Ph.D. (Planet Earth)
How about some serious news? The Taliban are winning again, as Obama knew they would.
Stourley Kracklite (White Plains, NY)
Given its such a fait accompli who got us into it in the first place?
European American (Midwest)
Stourley Kracklite,

That would be Osama bin Laden, the Sept. 11th hijackers and the Bush administration.
uga muga (Miami fl)
I suppose the Taliban could make the war more interesting to compete for global media coverage but don't they have long-standing desires for foreigners to go away? My detached interest in the folly that encases Afghanistan could be spiked if someone could determine who are the miscreants or possibly a ranking of such.
dan (Fayetteville AR)
The Taliban fully expect America to completely forget about Afghanistan, only a matter of time before they take back over same as last time. America cannot solve the problems in Afghanistan but we should not abandon Afghanistan as we did in the 1980s only to see the Taliban invited in bin Laden and create a terrorist Haven
Wayside Zebra (Vt)
How did the writer arrive at the "Longest war." Following military records, we were in Vietnam from 1954 to 1975.
mikecody (Niagara Falls NY)
Of course, depending on how one counts them, the Indian Wars started as early as 1790 and the last battle was in 1918, the battle of Bear Valley. Even if one only counts the wars west of the Mississippi, they started as early as 1811, giving one a war of over 100 years duration.
Occam's Razorback (Nextico)
American arms merchants are making profits though so all is well.
donald surr (Pennsylvania)
Absolutely! This war like all of our others in Asia during the last 70 years, has accomplished its purpose -- maintaining profits for the military-industrial-complex. As this one is winding down, Trump and company seem to be conjuring up the next one.
Don Polly (New Zealand)
Good on the Times - stay independent!
Peter (Germany)
As I remember from reading a Churchill biography many many years ago Afghanistan was a tough territory to be conquered. So the British stepped back from this task.

But Americans, driven what I may call their exuberance, had to invade it even shortly after the Soviets had failed. Nice job that created consequences we have to feel here in Europe.
dan (Fayetteville AR)
Well there was a Bin Laden guy there so there's that. Sorry if that inconvenience caused you discomfort, but al Quaeda didn't deserve a haven.
Jonas Kaye (NYC)
"Exuberance"! Well put sir.
Stourley Kracklite (White Plains, NY)
Well, there was that bin Laden guy who *wasn't* in Afghanistan. And he's still dead.
Truth777 (./)
Thanks, Bush.
Bob (Seattle)
Dear Truth777, Please add Cheyney, Rumsfield, Feith, Wolfawitz. et al to your "thanks" list...
Catherine2009 (St Charles MO)
War with Afghanistan by Western Nations has been going on for centuries. The British fought the Afghanistans to keep them out of India (The jewel in the Crown) The Ko I Noor diamond is still in the British crown jewels! Wasn't Republican Congressman Charlie Wilson that urged Congress to arm the Afghanistans to fight the Russians who had earlier invaded Afghanistan? That didn't work out too well either. A few years ago "The Daily Telegraph" republished a number of articles and photographs and drawings from its archives about forgotten battles and long disbanded regiments who had fought in Afghanistan. An uncle of mine, who served in the British Army, spent in time in Afghanistan in the 1920s. Those who do not learn from past history are doomed to repeat it.
Dry Socket (Illinois)
Maybe the cast and crew of Homeland or "24" will show up.
Mark Schaeffer (Somewhere on Planet Earth)
What surprises me is that a journalists like you are surprised that the longest war, the longest occupation and/or longest military engagement or exercise are being ignored, not covered enough or trivialized. The problem was how these horrible and extraordinary events (not in a good way) were normalized by the media that "just reported, without any value analysis or moral compass, and used wars as a great job opportunity". In other words, American journalists, and some European journalists, became part of America's military industrial complex. Even MSNBC, NPR and Democracy Now were playing this game. How come nobody picked up on this?

In a bizarre way the current hidden war, the increased chaos and growing extremism (both in the Middle East and the US) is a victory for all three countries: the US, the Taliban (or Al Qaeda) or Islamic Fundamentalism and Israel.

They have all come to the same status quo as before...except with a higher prize ; more hidden conflicts and more surveillance and intelligence than ever before.

The world should be weary of three regions: The continental US, the Middle East and Israel (which still has a huge influence on American politics).

And some of the media played to serve these three groups from the beginning, some of the media were played by them and some are still playing with them.

Sorry you did not notice.
Noam Goldstein (Sao Paulo)
you're just part of the problem w/ that conspiracy theory

lynn (california)
"Afghanistan is now America’s longest war."

The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan correlates with the rise in Afghanistan opium production (the Taliban burned most of the opium fields the year before the U.S. military arrived). It appears our troops are guarding increasingly abundant opium poppy fields.

Sadly, U.S. heroin consumption and increased Afghanistan opium production appear to be on the same upward trajectory (approximately 70% of the heroin in the U.S. emanates from Afghanistan).

It is time to let the Afghanistan Taliban burn down the Afghanistan opium fields (again) and end this "longest war." We need to clean up our act at home and focus on making the United States and Americans productive again. The destruction of middle class jobs/incomes in the U.S. has left too many Americans over-educated and under-employed. Our manufacturing, unions and upward mobility were once a shining example to the world. What has happened? Oh right: endless, needless, grindingly expensive illegal war.
Waleed Khalid (New York / New Jersey)
Your comment about the poppy fields, the taliban actively encouraged the growth of poppy to sell for their war chests- particularly their wars with other militant groups. Them burning the fields was probably more to hide evidence from western reporters that islamists were using drug production to fuel their combat than to get rid of the drug scourge.