Friday, November 11, 2011

19 Truths About Afghanistan that Generals Can't Say in Public

Thomas E. Ricks, in Foreign Policy Magazine, highlights and notes 19 True Things Generals Can't Say in Public About the Afghan War.....

Here's some of the list.  Click on the above link to visit them all.  Then ask yourself, 1) Why can't we say these things in public? and 2) What do we have to do to change these conditions?

My list of things to remember I can't say
  • Pakistan is now an enemy of the United States.
  • We don't know why we are here, what we are fighting for, or how to know if we are winning.
  • The strategy is to fight, talk, and build. But we're withdrawing the fighters, the Taliban won't talk, and the builders are corrupt.
  • Karzai's family is especially corrupt.
  • We want President Karzai gone but we don't have a Pushtun successor handy.
  • But the problem isn't corruption, it is which corrupt people are getting the dollars. We have to help corruption be more fair.
  • Another thing we'll never stop here is the drug traffic, so the counternarcotics mission is probably a waste of time and resources that just alienates a swath of Afghans.
  • Making this a NATO mission hurt, not helped. Most NATO countries are just going through the motions in Afghanistan as the price necessary to keep the US in Europe
  • Yes, the exit deadline is killing us.
  • Even if you got a deal with the Taliban, it wouldn't end the fighting.
  • The Taliban may be willing to fight forever. We are not.

One of the latter truths involve a comparison to the situation in Vietnam.  I am getting very concerned by the historical parallels I am seeing between Vietnam (1973-1975) and what I see via Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the decisions of the Obama Administration today.  Vietnam may have fallen during the Administration of a Republican President (Ford), but it was not the Administration that made the decisions.  The decisions were made by the progressive Democrats which dominated Congress in 1975.

One of the early meme's by the progressive left in the US was to make the comparison of both Afghanistan and later Iraq to Vietnam in an effort to drive support towards an anti-war viewpoint.  We were told that it would be a quagmire, citing the historical challenges faced by the British and the Soviets in their efforts to apply military force in Afghanistan.  We were told it would result in horrific casualties.  We were told we had an insufficient definition of what victory would be...and that our efforts there would create more terrorists rather than fewer terrorists.

Some of these observations can be found in the truths listed that we cannot discuss in public.  But they are there more because of some fundamental mistakes that we made, some fundamental assumptions that were incorrect, and ultimately because of our failures to look realistically at the challenges as opposed to idealistically looking at the challenges.

For example, one of the truths say that making this a NATO mission hurt the effort rather than helped.  This was made a NATO mission because of the Article V declaration around the 9/11 terror attack and the Afghani Taliban government providing direct assistance to al Qaeda before and after the attack.  Many NATO members made major contributions, sending combat forces, and suffering casualties as they fought alongside US forces.  However, there were also some significant NATO members, like Germany and France, who did only token service towards the NATO mission.  Their RoE were defined by political conditions that worked against us.  It demonstrated that in this post-Soviet world, NATO is an outmoded and obsolete organization.  The US should take a lesson from this and focus on alliances with those nations who really are our friends.

Another area where the real world collides with theory comes down to the Taliban and Pakistan.  Because of political correctness, we cannot look at the real common element that links the Taliban with large elements of the Pakistani people and government - fundamentalist Islam or even Islamofascism.  We cannot admit that there are sects of Islam that see their obligation in life is to expand the acceptance of their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam via the sword - and that anyone who is not a Muslim who accepts their interpretation is an infidel. 

Far too many express their belief that the reason so many in Pakistan and Afghanistan dislike us, desire to make war with us, is because of our actions - our foreign policy towards them and their region.  This is nothing more than continuing to deny the obvious answer because those same people believe the obvious answer is politically incorrect.  In these nations, poorly educated people are being indoctrinated by their Imams that all that is bad that happens to them is because they are not faithful enough, devout enough, and aren't doing enough to expand their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam throughout the world.  We cannot defeat an enemy that we are unwilling to identify or accurately confront.  Confronting this enemy will not be easy - but unless it is done, it will not go away.

These truths ultimately point out that we need to return to seeing the world as it is as opposed to how we want it to be.

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