The War in Afghanistan: Hopeless Quagmire?

Posted on August 31, 2009. Filed under: News of the Day, Political Issues |

We are losing in Afghanistan and here is why.

First, I have always been a hawk. And I actually wore the uniform, serving as a US Army Infantry Officer in the Post-Viet Nam army. My son currently serves in the 82nd Airborne and is stationed in Iraq. My father and grand father fought in World Wars 2 and 1 respectively. I have voted for Republicans since my first election in 1980 and I supported Pres. Bush’s decision to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq both. Those are my credentials.

I am now against the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But not on principle. After 9/11 going to war was the right response. I disagree with how the wars have been fought and am very afraid that we are going to see a very similar end to what we saw in Viet Nam. Is there any way that kind of dreadful end can be avoided?

If I am against the wars how can I also think the wars were the right thing to do and why am I then afraid of a lousy end to the war? Shouldn’t we just cut our losses and leave? Maybe.

In the Anthony Cordesman column below he points out that we quite simply never put enough resources into Afghanistan from the beginning, neither military  nor civilian. Yes, we ousted the Taliban, but then we left a power vacuum just like we did in Iraq. We did not do that in Germany, Japan or S. Korea during those wars. We did have a corrupt power vacuum in South Viet Nam. Cordesman writes:

The appointments this summer of Karl Eikenberry as ambassador to Afghanistan and McChrystal as commander of U.S. and allied forces have created a team that can reverse this situation. In fact, given the rising unpopularity of the war and Taliban successes, they are our last hope of victory. Yet they can win only if they are allowed to manage both the civil and military sides of the conflict without constant micromanagement from Washington or traveling envoys. They must be given both the time to act and the resources and authority they feel they need. No other path offers a chance of a secure and stable Afghanistan free of terrorist and jihadist control and sanctuaries.

The bottom line for Cordesman, then, is that we must “takeover” Afghanistan, provide many more troops and civilian personnel to run the country and fight the Taliban. The current Afghan government is proving to be quite corrupt as is the Iraqi government, therefore we need to get neck deep in their internal affairs and run the country well.

Cordesman continues:

They must build the provincial, district and local government capabilities that the Kabul government cannot and will not build for them. No outcome of the recent presidential election can make up for the critical flaws in a grossly overcentralized government that is corrupt, is often a tool of power brokers and narco-traffickers, and lacks basic capacity in virtually every ministry.

The issue that Cordesman ignores, is logistics. To reinforce the effort in Afghanistan with a MAJOR buildup of both Civilian and Military is a logistics nightmare because A-stan is landlocked and surrounded by other muslim countries, none of which are totally on our side. Pakistan is our only land route in, and that route is plagued by taliban guerrillas, corruption and extreme geographic difficulties. Iran is obviously out of the question. And that leaves an air route over Pakistan and through some of the former Soviet states to the north like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan has forced us out of the base we were using there due to pressure from Russian Prime Minister/Dictator (Joseph) Putin. Now we have a base in Tajikistan. A very tenuous supply line indeed.

All that to say that we simply cannot place an Army in a landlocked country with no secure means of provisioning it. This is a recipe for disaster. Suppose that the Tajiks give in to pressure from both Russia and China to close our base there and suppose our problems with Pakistan go from bad to worse. How do we resupply or extricate our Army in A-stan?

I distinctly remember SecDef Donald Rumsfeld stating his doctrine of a small “footprint” in A-stan as being the goal so as to not offend the muslim host nation nor cost us too much. Though I cheered the victories won by our Special Forces and CIA working with the Northern Alliance, I remained skeptical. I am skeptical no longer. This war was a disaster waiting to happen.

So what should have been done and what are our options now?

I commend Georg W Bush for taking action. Taking some action was better than taking no action in response to the attacks of 9/11, and Afghanistan was the proper target. However, I believe that it was a grossly false assumption that we could go in with a light force and simply kick out the Taliban and replace them with Karzai.

The five problems in A-stan are 1) Islam, 2) Tribalism and 3) poppies 4) its history and 5) its geography. Unless we deal with these 5 problems we are doomed to fail.

First is Islam. The root cause of 9/11 lies in the core teachings and values of Islam. That is what our enemies say and that is what histories shows. The Taliban and al Queda are successful and spreading because they take their religion seriously. This is, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, a religious war as defined by our enemies. Islam has been at war with the west since the 7th century. Their religion teaches a unification of church/mosque and state, the spread of the religion by the sword and that all who resist conversion must be killed or enslaved.

When we invaded Nazi Germany we overturned the Nazi ideology. when we conquered Japan, we overturned the Emperor Cult. When we defended South Korea we defended against not only the military of the Communists, but their ideology. WHY THEN ARE WE WILLING TO ACCEPT THE IDEOLOGY/RELIGION OF ISLAM WHILE FIGHTING THE ISLAMICISTS? We try to distinguish  the Taliban and al Queda from the rest of the so-called “religion of peace”, but the objective evidence shows that is a sham. Islam is fundamentally against all of our western values and if we are at war but are unwilling to impose our western values when it is precisely a values driven war we are bound to lose.

Secondly, Afghanistan is an ancient tribal society that, at its core, is not open to democracy. There is no incident in history that shows me where you can simply transpose a new way of thinking and politics upon a culture without first destroying the old culture. Their tribal society lends itself to Islam, not to a western democracy rooted in the Judeo-Christian heritage. Tribal societies are fragmented and more easily influenced by a powerful ideology like the Taliban have, instead of the weak and corrupt government of Karzai. It would take hundreds of billions of dollars, which we do not have, to build the infrastructure and schools and bribe the tribal chieftans to change that society.

Third, the only major export of A-stan is opium from the poppies. This has been going on for centuries. And we want them to grow what? Barley? Wheat? A-stan has NO NATURAL RESOURCES that are worth anything over than poppies. It is a dry, rocky, mountainous hell hole. How are we going to change their fundamental economy? Historically most wars have been fought over some sort of economic issue. In this war there is absolutely no way we can ever profit even if we conquered A-stan. It is a useless piece of barren mountain and desert.

Four, since Alexander the Great no one has successfully conquered and held A-stan. Nobody wants it. The British kept it for a while, but that was a losing proposition. The Soviets tried and failed. So why are we there? When you are on the wrong side of history you rarely win. America started out on the wrong side of history yet won freedom and established a new world order in 1776-89. America was a clean break with the past and the way things have always been done. But what we are trying to do in A-stan and Iraq is without precedent in history.

Five, as mentioned above, its landlocked nature wars against us. Its lack of resources make it worthless. It is a possibility that at some point in the future we will have to make a fighting withdrawal through either Iran or Pakistan. What a mess that would be. Disaster.

What should have been done? Clearly some form of a military response to 9/11 was called for and that response should have been substantial enough to change the minds of our enemies. What we have done is not, nor will it be, sufficient for the task. Here are two proposals for what should have been done:

1) The short, limited, less expensive option would have been to launch a massive air bombardment campaign against Afghanistan that would have sent an adequate message to the Taliban and all muslims that if you hit us we will pull a Dresden/Tokyo on you. Rubble causes no trouble. For shame! I can hear the liberals shriek. You would bomb innocent men, women and children for the actions of a few al queda types? Exactly. They bomb two of our cities and we bomb 20 of theirs. It gets the message across and saves American lives and money. Serve notice to all muslims everywhere, and any other enemy who may strike us, you hit us, we will crush you. No ground troops would be needed. If Iran or Pakistan objected to our bombers overflying their countries, too bad, shoot their planes down and take out their radars and missile sites. If the leaders are not from A-stan, find out where they are from and go after their villages and families. They understand that.

2) The long expensive way. After you conduct the bombing plan mentioned above, then send in an Army, 500,000 at least and conquer the place. By conquer this is what I mean. Land on the coast of Iran, fight and conquer our way through Iran to A-stan and colonize both places. Replace the religion of Islam with Christianity and completely change their society. If the society objects, decimate them as the Romans used to do.

Brutal? Unquestionably. Does it work? It has historically. As recently as WWII.

Why are you recoiling in terror at this suggestion? Because it is so non-21st century. It is primitive. So is flying airplanes into crowded office buildings. No one is promoting a workable plan that will succeed.

The plans we have been following in Iraq and A-stan have not worked and will not work.

What should we do now? Either fight to win or cut our losses and leave. But to fight to win will mean establishing a secure ground route through Iran. That will mean 500,000 troops. If we don’t pony up and gut up, get out. But tell the Taliban in no uncertain terms that our bombers will be making house calls.

What will likely happen?

My prediction is that Obama will retreat fully from both wars, bring the troops home and watch as both countries descend back into chaos. Radical islam will continue to grow and al queda will eventually strike us again, perhaps even harder with a nuke, dirty bomb or chemical/biological. What do we do then?

I predict that the west will continue to retreat and take attack after attack and allow the muslim threat to grow inside our own borders until we either die off and capitulate and all become muslim OR we get tired of dhimmitude and fight a real war. What we are doing now and what is proposed by the current military and political leaders will not work.

We are in a war for our very survival and don’t even realize it.

For the soldiers, like my son, whose task it is to fight, kill, bleed and die for this country, I urge you to do your duty well and continue to serve with pride. For the Professional Fighting Man it is not about winning the war, that is the politician’s job. It is about winning the next battle, saving your buddy next to you, and keeping the honor of your unit. It is about competing in the ultimate game and living to tell about it later. Soldier on. Even if the pols call it quits and we retreat, you will have served with honor and valor. That is all we soldiers can do.

Equality 7-2521


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One Response to “The War in Afghanistan: Hopeless Quagmire?”

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The US soldier is in the unenviable position of countless millions of their forebears throughout history. Many fine, brave soldiers have fought for bad causes and corrupt regimes. Never the less they have fought bravely and with honor.

It is a matter of history that some of the bravest and most distinguished solders who fought in WWII were on the other side. German soldiers distinguished themselves in defence of what they believed was a just cause – the defence of Germany against a worldwide attempt to destroy the German people – as demonstrated in the aftermath of WWI.

A similar situation exists for the US fighting man today. He wears the uniform and performs with honor (mostly), in defence of a corrupt and increasingly fascist-style regime that has long departed from the cause of defending the constitution, and now fights to protect the interests of 0.1% of the population who have the money and power to use the US military machine to asset-strip the world for it’s own ends.
This is the reason that the US and it’s allies will lose this war.
The last honorable fight the US engaged in was WWII. It has been all down-hill from then.

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