Monday, March 1, 2010

Afghanistan, Again

By Alan Caruba

Think about this. Any nation that cannot rebuild the Twin Towers nearly nine years after they were destroyed has lost its ability to function rationally and effectively.

We have been a military presence in Afghanistan since 2001 following 9/11. That’s two years longer than when we were in Vietnam.

Afghanistan has a long history of defying great powers that have invaded. The former Soviet Union could not prevail there and just about every other empire from Great Britain to the armies of Alexander the Great pretty experienced defeat.

What kind of logic puts more U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the same time announcing their withdrawal date? The enemy need only wait for us to leave. What firefights occur are a kind of Taliban show-and-tell to demonstrate they can engage us.

What kind of war is it when U.S. troops cannot shoot at the enemy who has just been shooting at them because they leave their weapons behind and take a hike? These are the most bizarre rules of engagement I have ever heard.

The Pentagon and our military have become so politically correct they feel compelled to issue a public apology for civilians killed in the fog of war. Yes, it’s tragic, but it’s just as tragic when this nation sends its troops to fight a no-win war.

More than 300 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan since May 15, 2009 when President Obama sent more troops.

For a President who won the 2008 election campaigning against the Iraq war and denying the success of “the surge”, the latest increase in troop strength reeks of politics, not strategy. Taking credit for the military success and troop withdrawal in Iraq, as Vice President Joe Biden recently did, is obscene.

I received an email from the father of Specialist Trevor Johnson, United States Army Reserve, 737th Transportation Company, who sent me a copy of a letter his son had airmailed and emailed to three legislators from Washington State. He is stationed in Afghanistan at Kandahar Air Force base. He wrote to ask why his unit had to wait around until April to be rotated home even though their mission is done. None of his Congress critters responded to his inquiry.

Spc. Johnson needs to review the lessons about chain-of-command, but I suspect he has already spoken his piece to his commanding officers at this point. There is something very American about a low-echelon soldier feeling that he has the right to question what he regards as a situation that wastes manpower and money.

In November 2008, I wrote that “Afghanistan looks and smells like Vietnam. It is the classic wrong war in the wrong place.” I still think that. I think the minute U.S. troops leave, Afghanistan will return to being in a constant state of conflict between its various tribal factions and probably not terribly happy to welcome Taliban who are not native Afghans.

The notion that we can turn Afghanistan into a democracy is ludicrous. It is an Islamic state and the two do not mix. For the same reason, it’s anybody’s guess if Iraq can retain its democratic government secured with the blood and treasure of America.

Why am I skeptical? Because it is the Middle East!

Protecting major sources of oil that America and the West require to function is a sensible and a strategic necessity. That is primarily why the U.S. and allied nations invaded Iraq—twice! Getting Iraq’s oil fields up and going is important, but the U.S. has more domestic reserves of oil, offshore and onshore, than the Middle East.

Here’s a real strategic necessity. Permitting oil companies access to our domestic oil and to build new refineries. Then we would not have to fight in the Middle East every few years.

I think we’re in Afghanistan because the current administration fears the U.S. being perceived as weak and vulnerable. Given a spate of UN treaties that would commit us to reduce our nuclear arms and otherwise surrender our national sovereignty, that’s the only conclusion our enemies could make.

Add to that a President whose naivety, whose disinterest in foreign affairs, and whose inexperience renders him ill-equipped to deal with a world filled with bad people and you have the potential for serious miscalculations.

Then, too, there is the general level of distraction among Americans watching their financial system wheeze and gasp in an effort to regain some strength. That recovery, however, is hobbled by the government’s constant borrowing and spending that got us to this point.

We have U.S. troops stationed in 148 countries and 11 territories. It is unhealthy for any nation to be in a constant state of war because you end up with more enemies than friends.

(c) Alan Caruba, 2010


MJ said...

Thank you, Mr. Caruba, for the well written piece. I just wanted to confirm my son's knowledge of the chain of command. Yes, he does follow it. He is not shy about holding those above him accountable for their actions, that is most likely why he remains a specialist after 2 deployments and over 9 years in the USAR.

Alan Caruba said...

If it were up to me, I'd pin a medal on him and promote him!

TexasFred said...

I have to point out, many in THIS nation are worried that Obama and the Left will come after the guns of ALL Americans.

Iraq and Afghanistan are each approximately the same size in land area as is the state of Texas...

The WTC analogy is great, we have lost to ability to function rationally and effectively. If they can't take a rag-tag bunch of Taliban out, in a nation the size of TEXAS for crying out loud, how can anyone even remotely believe that Obama and Company can take America by force?

Obama and Company WILL take America, by hook and/or crook, in the House and Senate, IF we allow it to happen. But that's the ONLY way they will ever take this nation.

Ol James said...

I have the utmost respect for our Military. They rank right behind, God, Family & Country. There are many Senators, Representatives and former Presidents that have served and I Thank them along with those that have served and are serving. You also Mr. Alan.
HOWEVER, politicians SHOULD NOT dictate what goes on or happens on the battlefield. It's called war for a reason.
Like a friend of mine, a former leatherneck used to say, "round them up, sort them out and if necessary let em meet Jesus one way or another."
Another Charlie-Foxtrot

Guy said...

The word Quagmire comes to mind ...