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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our Future in Afghanistan

Here is a fairly long article from The New York Times.

It is about the war in Afghanistan, the good war.  We have now gone over 1,000 deaths for US Service personnel serving there—plus Foreign Service Offices (FSOs), Civil Servants and Contractor Personnel.  Then there are the other NATO troops who have died there. And al Qaeda. And the Taliban. And, of course those who are non-combatants, although some, at least, are aiding one side or the other.

Then there is the article by Ms Ann Marlowe, who has been to Afghanistan as a reporter a number of times.  Here lede is:
Our strategy and tactics in Afghanistan, both of which make sense in theory, no longer apply.
It is this second article that caused a retired flag officer to put forward the question:
This is getting more and more similar to another COIN enterprise thirty-five years ago, with corruption at the highest levels, crumbling defense forces, inability to stand alone…. We have a Wall dedicated to Americans who gave their lives for that adventure.  Was it worth it?  How long can Congress and the American People endure?

Maybe containment is the fall-back position, like we “contain” North Korea (more or less).  It’s a strategy some think we should have taken with Iraq.  It worked with the USSR (more or less).

At what point does Congress refuse funding?
For the record, I think we are not yet at the "breaking point".

However, we are at the point that someone in DoD needs to get together with someone in DOS and talk about the possible futures that might unfold.  This would be a series of branches off of today, looking at how external factors as well as internal factors might cause players to change directions.  For example, if Korea goes from 46 dead sailors to a conventional war, the US might give up on the soft approach of counterinsurgency and go to a mailed fist. On the other hand, if Korea goes hot China might try to turn up the heat in Afghanistan and we might say, great, YOUR problem.

Does anyone out there have a view on the next ten years in Afghanistan?

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

ncrossland said...

It is a depressing view. We are indeed engaged in another pointless COIN op ala SEA. The entire "conflict" suffers from severe cognitive dissonance w/r the desired end-state. What the Afghans want...and are getting in spades completely different that the high brow intellectual goals that have driven the US involvement.

Bottom line, we are policing for the currrent Afghan "government" their countryside making it safe for growing and exporting the worlds opium supply. Like the long list of SVN "presidents" and "premiers"....the current power holder is simply the dominant sect or gang in charge.

We are pouring American tax dollars (or perhaps our loans from China) down an opium laced rat hole...and the moment we leave....the forces we claim to be vanquishing will simply wander out of the hills and return to business as usual..which hasn't been badly interrupted even now.

Winning hearts and minds???? You can't win something that is already controlled.

We need to get out...and get out now. But we won' for 10 more least...we will send our sons and daughters to their meaningless deaths in a land that couldn't care less.