15 Reasons Why We Can't Win in Afghanistan

1. There is no " Afghanistan," only an inchoate collection of warring tribes, factions and clans.

2. To the extent there is an "Afghanistan," its government is deeply corrupt and unable to control its own divided country.

3. President Kharzai, our "ally" and the official representative of the "state" on whose behalf we fight, would prefer that we leave -- at least when it comes to what he says for internal consumption.

4. Not that it matters what he thinks since the President of Afghanistan is for all practical purposes little more than the Mayor of Kabul -- and that's on good days.

5. The only thing that unites this otherwise disintegral non-state is that the fractious tribes that despise one another hate foreigners even more.

6. Foreign forces, whatever their intentions, will always be seen as occupiers and hence, the enemy.

7. Ghengis Khan, the British and the Russians all tried to "win" in Afghanistan, and they all failed; it would be an exaggeration to say their futile attempts brought down three empires.... or would it?

8. You can't win wars when you're killing civilians, yet in Afghanistan where the boundary between combatants and civilians is blurred you necessarily are killing a great many civilians a lot of the time.

9. Occupying places where Muslims live (and where they die at your hand) will always been seen as a war against Islam rather than a war against terrorism.

10. You can't make people free at the barrel of a gun.

11. There is no better way to create terrorists than to make war on Muslims in the name of fighting wars against terrorism.

12. America can't save the world, and risks losing what is best in America when it tries.

13. Military force and overwhelming firepower applied from the outside are more likely to undermine than sustain the development of democracy inside a developing country.

14. Al Qaeda is not Afghanistan and it is not the Taliban either; it is a malevolent NGO, and winning Afghanistan or defeating the Taliban cannot vanquish al Qaeda.

15. We can't pay for questionable wars abroad and afford justice and economic recovery at home, and trying to do so is likely to lead to losing the war and undermining justice.

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