The Courage to Leave?

#1
The Courage to Leave
By BOB HERBERT
Published: June 11, 2010

There is no good news coming out of the depressing and endless war in Afghanistan. There once was merit to our incursion there, but that was long ago. Now we’re just going through the tragic motions, flailing at this and that, with no real strategy or decent end in sight.

The U.S. doesn’t win wars anymore. We just funnel the stressed and underpaid troops in and out of the combat zones, while all the while showering taxpayer billions on the contractors and giant corporations that view the horrors of war as a heaven-sent bonanza. BP, as we’ve been told repeatedly recently, is one of the largest suppliers of fuel to the wartime U.S. military.

Seven American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Monday but hardly anyone noticed. Far more concern is being expressed for the wildlife threatened by the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico than for the G.I.’s being blown up in the wilds of Afghanistan.
More
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/12/opinion/12herbert.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
 
#2
Sad but true,what a crap world we live in,
 
#4
The "Mea Culpa" is just a pro-forma article from a columnist without the time or inclination to pen something original. A column filler.

B
 
#5
bakerlite said:
The "Mea Culpa" is just a pro-forma article from a columnist without the time or inclination to pen something original. A column filler.

B
Agreed,nothing original here we all know its going to be a long drawn out conflict but i don't see any alternative other than pull out and admit defeat against the taliban and their ilk,which really would be a tragedy for us in the west.
 
#6
jibman said:
but i don't see any alternative other than pull out and admit defeat against the taliban and their ilk,which really would be a tragedy for us in the west.
I agree with you to some extent but has that assumption ever been seriously challenged and thought through.

If we simply said, we can't afford and can't be arrsed anymore so fight amongst yourselves what really, I mean really, be the impact to the West?
 
#7
meridian said:
jibman said:
but i don't see any alternative other than pull out and admit defeat against the taliban and their ilk,which really would be a tragedy for us in the west.
I agree with you to some extent but has that assumption ever been seriously challenged and thought through.

If we simply said, we can't afford and can't be arrsed anymore so fight amongst yourselves what really, I mean really, be the impact to the West?
well, that's the thing isn't it? What type of bravery is meant here? The bravery to resign and admit defeat or the bravery for what follows when they are handed a huge symbolic victory?
 
#8
meridian said:
If we simply said, we can't afford and can't be arrsed anymore so fight amongst yourselves what really, I mean really, be the impact to the West?
I'd imagine the blame game from the other side of the pond would likely focus on the level of support they have received from their NATO allies. Obama is evidenty not above trying to pin the blame on anyone but America (as seen by the BP crisis) so bashing Europe would very probably be a means to avoid accepting responsibility for failure. The US military is famously self critical, the American political class, less so.

In addition I suspect Obama is looking to reorientate American FP and alliances anyway so it may provide a convenient excuse to turn away from or at least relegate European/NATO cooperation in their list of priorities.

The propaganda victory for the Jihadis would likely increase their recruitment from within the UK too, but that is not a problem that can solved by the military and is not a reason to sit in Afghan for ever and a day.
 
#9
Skynet said:
...
The U.S. doesn’t win wars anymore. We just funnel the stressed and underpaid troops in and out of the combat zones, while all the while showering taxpayer billions on the contractors and giant corporations that view the horrors of war as a heaven-sent bonanza. BP, as we’ve been told repeatedly recently, is one of the largest suppliers of fuel to the wartime U.S. military.
...
Dastardly British "feckin" Petroleum are involved. Oh dear, obviously that makes it a criminal enterprise.


This is perhaps the lamest angle of Pashtun war criticism I've yet seen.
 
#10
Strait_Jacket said:
The propaganda victory for the Jihadis would likely increase their recruitment from within the UK too, but that is not a problem that can solved by the military and is not a reason to sit in Afghan for ever and a day.
maybe we could model ourselves on 1970s East Germany or something? :lol:
 
#11
mac1 said:
Strait_Jacket said:
The propaganda victory for the Jihadis would likely increase their recruitment from within the UK too, but that is not a problem that can solved by the military and is not a reason to sit in Afghan for ever and a day.
maybe we could model ourselves on 1970s East Germany or something? :lol:
Nah, they've just been voted out..

I do think it will happen though and the Jihadi recruiters will simply shift the message from ejecting the evil occupiers from Muslim lands to attacking the evil lands of the former occupiers. These feckers do hold a grudge and the idea that ending our presence in Muslim countries will defuse the problem is tosh in my opinion. Whether we fight them there with soldiers or fight them at home with the security forces they won't simply let us walk away - I'm not referring to the Afghans here obviously.

With a 'win' against NATO under their belt I can't imagine there'll be a shortage of volunteers, hopefully this is being planned for by those in the know right now. If there is a big rise in domestic attacks the question is then quite where and how we hit back without invading Somalia/Yemen/Turdistan, or indeed whether we look to hit back at all and accept it as a domestic probem?
 
#12
meridian said:
jibman said:
but i don't see any alternative other than pull out and admit defeat against the taliban and their ilk,which really would be a tragedy for us in the west.
I agree with you to some extent but has that assumption ever been seriously challenged and thought through.

If we simply said, we can't afford and can't be arrsed anymore so fight amongst yourselves what really, I mean really, be the impact to the West?
If we did pull out i think Iran,North Korea and the like would see it as a sign of weakness and would be more inclined to adopt a more aggressive stance to us in the west.The pro western regime in Pakistan would probably fold as a consequence of us pulling out,creating a massive powder keg in the whole of that region.
 
#13
Strait_Jacket said:
The propaganda victory for the Jihadis would likely increase their recruitment from within the UK too, but that is not a problem that can solved by the military and is not a reason to sit in Afghan for ever and a day.
This is also another lame argument. Their recruitment plainly benefits from our sustained presence in Afghanistan. Domestic counter terrorism is plainly way down our list of policy priorities.

You can expect similar affects to when the 40th Army pulled out of Afghanistan in 89.

In that case of course the USSR handed over the keys to the KGB and shut up shop in 91, the war was a contributing factor, it's unlikely DC will experience such a management change.

The bloody Algerian Civil war kicked off in the same year, many returning "Afghan Arabs" were involved and that war drew in many of the Takfiri Internationale. By 95 there were some terrorist incidents in France.

The First Chechen War began in 94, but it's the second in 98 where we see radical Islam out on the ground. Likewise KLA activity spikes around the same time.

The Afghan civil war was at it's peak in 96, AQ were far more active in it than war with the Soviets. It was still simmering on when we intervened. It is unlikely to be ended when we leave.

AQ conceived 9-11 to rally the Umma in a great popular rising and hoped to draw the US into the Pashtun KZ. The first goal failed spectacularly and AQ were easily routed from their havens in Afghanistan by the NA backed by the USAF. Unfortunately they ran into the loving bosom of the ISI and we then invaded the wrong country. They must think Allah is merciful indeed.

A indisputable US defeat in Afghanistan might be celebrated but then so is Iraq where the Takfiri cause has bloodily imploded. Ayman al-Zawahiri, plainly not a man who kens Wall St, boasts that these wars have crippled the US economy and bleed dry the far enemy. The fact that DC seems to have some fight in it and he's a pretty marginal nutter do not deter the old bugger. These guys are not part of the reality based community. His main focus now seems to be toppling the Pakistani state.

Boasting about victory is not what draws young men to al-Zawahiri's cause, its the small wars themselves. The Takfiri MO has long been to use insurgencies as recruiting tools in the Umma. This is how they expand their still narrow base. Low intensity warfare is a petri dish for them. It's in many ways a bonus if the infidel stumbles in, it gives them focus.

Takfiri are very prone to schism and their movements often fragment into waring clans as the GIA did in 1999. It also distracts the punters from the fact that Takfiri are mainly focused on butchering fellow Muslims.

The terrorist threat in Europe has actually grown considerably while we've been abroad slaying Islamist dragons. Killing the faithful in fairly large numbers will do that for you. Based on history after withdrawal from Afghanistan there's unlikely to any meaningful increase in terrorist activity in The West, it may even fall off. Expect lots of trouble in truly Muslim lands though as the Dr Z's disciples return home, easily bored and skilled in mayhem.

The only good reason to persist in Pashtun war is to prop up Pakistan as if that goes tits up DC will have really serious regional problems. Things could turn really nasty. I'm not convinced our very confused policies are effectively achieving that, some such as the Drone campaign in FATA may even be counterproductive, things seem to be getting steadily worse South of the Durand. But this is an argument for acting differently rather than leaving precipitously.
 
#14
Alib,

I haven't been suggesting early withdrawal merely that we may well see an increase in domestic terrorism were we to pull out in circumstances whereby AQ+ can claim a 'win' - which you disagree with. You make the point about returning Jihadi's kicking off in their own countries and there will doubtless be many coming 'home' to Britain when we finally leave.

I agree with your point about the importance of proping up the Gov in Pakistan - where the real probem lies - but staying in AFG to help prevent that isn't a goer with Western public or political opinion and a move of coventional ISAF forces south of the Durand Line wouldn't be either. Ultimately it will (in my opinion) be India that sorts out Pakistan once and for all, particularly if the State collapses or -more likely - is completely destabilised by an insurgency.

I wouldn't want UK Plc to have any (overt) part in that little drama though.
 
#15
Strait_Jacket said:
Alib,

I haven't been suggesting early withdrawal merely that we may well see an increase in domestic terrorism were we to pull out in circumstances whereby AQ+ can claim a 'win' - which you disagree with. You make the point about returning Jihadi's kicking off in their own countries and there will doubtless be many coming 'home' to Britain when we finally leave.

I agree with your point about the importance of proping up the Gov in Pakistan - where the real probem lies - but staying in AFG to help prevent that isn't a goer with Western public or political opinion and a move of coventional ISAF forces south of the Durand Line wouldn't be either. Ultimately it will (in my opinion) be India that sorts out Pakistan once and for all, particularly if the State collapses or -more likely - is completely destabilised by an insurgency.

I wouldn't want UK Plc to have any (overt) part in that little drama though.
A few UK and US citizens are already coming and going from the training camps in FATA. It's Gulf Arabs, North Africans and folk from the former USSR that are out there in numbers. I don't think any of them would be much enthused by our withdrawal from what will remain a Pashtun civil war for control of Kabul. As in the 90s many will remain in theater and some will return to challenge the near enemy at home. I doubt we'd see any triumphalist surge in Takfiri recruiting in the UK, didn't happen in Spain after the Madrid attack and their rapid withdrawal from Iraq.

Hyping terrorist threats has been losing is bite for half a decade, our leaders have cried wolf too long. You are right that propping up Pindi does not play well with the voter. It needs selling hard but that takes political courage. This is a bad situation partly of our own creating that is liable to turn into a real shite storm, Barry and Dave need to be plain about it.

I don't like this much myself, devious bits of the Pak Military are a root of the trouble. We were far too gentle with team Mushie after 9-11, failed to instill the necessary respect.

Having supported us getting into this complex mess I don't like the idea of abandoning The Cousins to deal with it but then I don't have Terry trying to kill me.
 
#16
meridian said:
jibman said:
but i don't see any alternative other than pull out and admit defeat against the taliban and their ilk,which really would be a tragedy for us in the west.
I agree with you to some extent but has that assumption ever been seriously challenged and thought through.

If we simply said, we can't afford and can't be arrsed anymore so fight amongst yourselves what really, I mean really, be the impact to the West?
It's not about how the West percieves it though, if we pulled out the Taliban would declare it a victory - and they would have greater access to the people to whom you need to convince it wasn't a Taliban victory.

We would probably see the Taliban and other anti-West regimes et al. get stronger.
 
#17
The only good reason to persist in Pashtun war is to prop up Pakistan as if that goes tits up DC will have really serious regional problems. Things could turn really nasty.
Now we're getting to the crux of the argument. However I would contest your view that the UAV campaign is counterproductive. In Iraq General McCrystal discovered that if you kill key players faster than their replacements can be found, you degrade the effectiveness of the opposition. The enemy know this too, hence their use of "not so smart" bombs against wedding parties, government employees and foreigners.

The AFPAC War is expensive in blood and treasure and perhaps we would rather be somewhere else, doing anything else, but we're not.

B
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
The Symbolism of Victory/Prestige argument is the same bogus one that kept the US in Vietnam and almost trashed the RAF in the build up to the Battle of Britain as the Navy insisted on running Channel convoys until wiser heads prevailed.

We cannot possibly win in Afghanistan as we are or until someone clearly articulates what victory looks like and can cogently explain why what we 're doing will achieve success and then backs it all up with full resourcing and unqualified political support across NATO. Since this will not happen, we are fighting the wrong war in the wrong place and our strength and resolve are being sapped whilst other more potent threats develop unchecked in Iran and North Korea. It is a failure of logic and policy to say more of our soldiers should be killed because of the soldiers we've already lost. Those taking the risks deserve some clearer thinking at the top.

Bring everyone home, re-organise and then work out how we effectively combat militant Islam. Afghanistan started out as an operation against Al Qaeda infrastructure and generally it worked. Then the historically ignorant bozos that were, and maybe still are, our political leadership turned the mission into a cultural crusade without understanding any of the implications. I'm sorry if the women of Afghanistan can't go university but we can't solve the problems of the world and we have bigger challenges closer to home.
 
#19
America is hampered by its fear of colonialism. If you are going to invade a foreign country then the only way to subdue it is to colonise it. America constantly tries to engage in Police actions and ends up being the fall guy for corrupt and unpopular regimes. US public patience eventually runs out with the high attrition rates that accompany being piggy in the middle.
The only way to invade a country is to crush all opposition in your way then establish a colonial administration. When you have set up sufficient infrastructure for the country to be able to run itself and still show some form of friendly relationship with the Colonial Power then you can look at devolving power back to an independent civilian government, say in about 100 years or so.
If you have a good enough reason to invade a country then you should go all the way and bloody well invade it. When you enforce regime change you're on a hiding to nothing especially when the regime you replace is the popular one and any subsequent attempts at democracy are on the Zimbabwe model to ensure your own, highly unpopular and, usually corrupt, choice is maintained in power against the wishes of the majority.
So, in essence, we either up the pace and revert to total warfare or we pack up and go home and let the inevitable happen.
 
#20
Markintime said:
America is hampered by its fear of colonialism. If you are going to invade a foreign country then the only way to subdue it is to colonise it. America constantly tries to engage in Police actions and ends up being the fall guy for corrupt and unpopular regimes. US public patience eventually runs out with the high attrition rates that accompany being piggy in the middle.
The only way to invade a country is to crush all opposition in your way then establish a colonial administration. When you have set up sufficient infrastructure for the country to be able to run itself and still show some form of friendly relationship with the Colonial Power then you can look at devolving power back to an independent civilian government, say in about 100 years or so.
If you have a good enough reason to invade a country then you should go all the way and bloody well invade it. When you enforce regime change you're on a hiding to nothing especially when the regime you replace is the popular one and any subsequent attempts at democracy are on the Zimbabwe model to ensure your own, highly unpopular and, usually corrupt, choice is maintained in power against the wishes of the majority.
So, in essence, we either up the pace and revert to total warfare or we pack up and go home and let the inevitable happen.
Many true points here. I've long thought that the only natural form of government appropriate for Afghanistan is a strong local monarchy, or alternatively a time-limited international Protectorate.
The US couldn't stomach installing an absolute Monarch (rebels as they are), and couldn't commit to say a fifty year Mandate. Instead, it installed a ricketty local democracy, and ended up replicating many of the disasters of Vietnam.
The article shouldn't be 'the courage to leave', it should be 'The courage to do what's necessary-whatever the cost.' If that means surrendering some of its cherished Republican ideals, or reinventing itself as an outright Colonial power, and suffer the World hate that would descend upon it from the Left, then so be it. Otherwise, the Afghan experiment will simply decay into a half-supported COIN campaign, with intermitttant surges.

Fight to Win. No compromise. No surrender. War as national priority number 1. If you aren't willing to fight a war on those terms, then you have no business running it. It was Blairs' failure to understand this basic fact that let him blunder into so many geo-strategic mistakes, which we are still paying for.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top