Warfare ‘in our neighboring country of Afghanistan’

October 8, 2008

Despite Sarah Palin’s gosh-darn, flippant attitude toward war, she does need to work a bit harder on world geography.
In a bullshit session last Sunday:

  • Three days after a mostly gaffe-free debate performance, the Alaska governor fumbled during a speech in which she praised U.S. soldiers for “fighting terrorism and protecting us and our democratic values”.
    “They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan,” she told several hundred supporters at a fundraising event in San Francisco.

Sweet Sarah also needs some history lessons.

Afghan War

Afghanistan has never been fun for invaders.
Even way-back to 327 BC and ancient Alexander, that narcissistic, mass-murderer/conqueror, thought his shit didn’t stink until he got his ass caught in the cold Afghan hills.
The Brits, however, got their asses kicked there a bunch of times, the first in January 1842 included a genuine slaughterhouse retreat, as depicted in the illustration to the left, found at britishbattles.com — 4,500 soldiers, including 690 Europeans, and 12,000 wives, children and civilian servants were killed during a bungled withdrawal from Kabul to the Khyber Pass and on to India.

In the modern era, it was the Soviets who lost their wad trying to get a handle on Afghanistan.
The USSR was in country a decade (1979-1989), lost more than 15,000 of its own troops, blew billions and billions of rubles on the venture, eventually leading to its own demise in the 1990s, and set up history for today, leaving Afghanistan as a “…weak state full of religious hatred and hatred of richer nations: a breeding ground for terrorism. Though supplying the Afghan resistance with American guns and anti-aircraft missiles seemed like a good idea for the US in the 1980s, and was the reason for the Soviets’ defeat, now as the US invades, they are met with their own guns.”

And so enter stage far-right, the US invades Afghanistan in October 2001 under a pretense of seeking out Osama and his boys as payback for 9/11.
Decider George and his boys, however, really had their attention on Baghdad, way before 9/11, within weeks of taking office.

Now more than seven years later, the US is not only bogged down in Afghanistan, but the entire operation is on a fast-track south — not only is the Taliban stronger and more ambitious, but the border with Pakistan is becoming another conflict in itself.
In the presidential debate last night, both Barack Obama and Jackboot John McCain called each other “big stick” blowhards in foreign policy, neither describing how to handle the growing shitfire.

And shitfire it is.
Although there’s been blubbering from the Pentagon about a new direction in the Afghan war, two stories on the same day last week — Oct. 2 — summed up the chaos churning in the war, both inside and outside the military.
First, Gen. David McKiernan, the US commander in Afghanistan, painted a bleak picture of the conflict, and, said an Iraqi-war-like “surge” ain’t what’s happenin’.

  • “The word I don’t use for Afghanistan is ‘surge,’ ” McKiernan emphasized, saying that what is required instead is a “sustained commitment” to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many more years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

    Overall, McKiernan offered a sober view of Afghanistan, saying the violence is more intense than he had anticipated, particularly in the east and south.
    The toll in U.S. troops killed has risen to more than 130 this year, exceeding the total of 117 last year and reaching a new annual high since the war began in 2001.

And from the LA Times:

  • “We are in a tough counterinsurgency fight, we are in a higher level of violence this year than we were this time last year,” McKiernan said, hours before a meeting with President Bush in Washington. “In the east and south we are seeing a greater amount of insecurity in certain areas.
    So I wouldn’t say things are all on the right track.”

On the same day, and from Afghan-should-know-it-all, the Brits:

  • Britain’s ambassador to Afghanistan believes the US strategy there is failing, Nato reinforcements would be counter-productive and that it would be better if “an acceptable dictator” came to power in Kabul in the next few years, a French satirical weekly reported yesterday.
    The comments attributed to Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles were included in a diplomatic dispatch sent on September 2 from a French diplomat in Kabul and published by the French weekly, Le Canard Enchaîné, which combines investigative journalism and satire.
    The French diplomat, Jean-François Fitou, quoted Cowper-Coles as saying in a meeting:
    “The American strategy is destined to fail.
    “The coalition presence — particularly the military presence — is part of the problem, not the solution,” Cowper-Coles is quoted as saying.
    More Nato troops would have “a perverse effect.”
    “It would identify us even more clearly as an occupying force and multiply the number of targets [by insurgents].”

Of course, Britain’s Foreign Secretary quickly rebuffed the whole idea of the UK supporting a dictatorship in Afghanistan and claimed wording in that so-called “diplomatic dispatch” was “garbled” and really hard to understand.
However, on Monday this week, the top Brit commander in country said a clear-cut win is damned-near impossible:

  • Decisive military victory in Afghanistan is impossible and the Taliban may well be part of a long-term solution for the country, the senior British commander in Afghanistan was quoted as saying Sunday.
    The Sunday Times newspaper quoted Brig. Mark Carleton-Smith as saying that “we’re not going to win this war.”
    “It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army,” he was quoted as saying. “We may well leave with there still being a low but steady ebb of rural insurgency.”
    He also reportedly said a deal with the Taliban might be on the table.
    “If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this,” Carleton-Smith was quoted as saying.

Even the UN put in its dues, and promptly got repulsed.
According to WireDispatch:

  • The war in Afghanistan cannot be won militarily and success is only possible through political means including dialogue between all relevant parties, the United Nation’s top official in the country said on Monday.

    “As we said before, as long as the invader forces are in Afghanistan, we won’t participate in any negotiations,” Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told the Pakistan-based Afghan news agency, AIP, on Monday.

And on Monday, to slap it all down and put a spin on it, US Defense Chief Bob Gates said those Brits (and the UN) were just being too pessimistic in the face of defeat.

  • “While we face significant challenges in Afghanistan, there certainly is no reason to be defeatist or to underestimate the opportunities to be successful in the long run,” Gates said on Monday on his way to Europe to meet defense ministers.

Gates matched the Brits in massive understatement — “significant challenges.”
Our neighbor Afghanistan will be way-worse at the end than it was at the beginning.

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