After the Precipice

February 20, 2009

A now-no-longer-forgotten war, the ponderous grind-down conflict in Afghanistan is getting some payback time in the press.
Although economic news played up front in the US — President Obama announced Wednesday his homeowners bailout plan, a day after he signed his $787 billion “overall” economic stimulus package — events in Afghanistan are helping nudge that disaster back toward center stage.
(Illustration found here).

Looking at Afghanistan in its current mode, coupled with its historical back-story as the graveyard of empires, the US military operation now nearly seven-and-half-years along carries early-building aspects of another foreign-populated necropolis.
And working without an “end game,” or any overall strategy will quickly increase burial plots.
In fact, a Taliban honcho told CBS he doesn’t understand “why the U.S. relies on figures and the number of troops in a country such as Afghanistan, where the number of foreign invaders has never made any difference, and the winners have always been the freedom fighters.”
This Taliban guy, supposedly a former government minister from the regime that ruled Afghanistan when the US invaded in October 2001, also said the number of “freedom fighters” has doubled since last year to more than 10,000 and the insurgency has changed tactics, moving from rural areas to urban.
He also snarked a deep, scary dig:

  • “The history of Afghanistan will never take a full U-turn, and we are not used to being defeated by foreigners.
    For a hundred years, Afghanistan has remained a graveyard for foreigners.
    There’s no way for it to suddenly become a land of victory for the U.S.
    It never can happen, and history won’t be changed in this century either.”

Afghanistan looks, walks and talks like another “q” word — (quagmire).

An Iraqi US troop “surge” may not re-cycle in Afghanistan, a land-locked country of 251,825 square miles with 80 percent of its population located in rural areas, tied together in at least nine major demographic sects, blended into tribes and clans scattered about a huge, magnificent landscape.

Such a military environment requires an “the indirect approach,” which is working “by, with and through” host-nation forces — rather than ‘surges’ of U.S. troops.
(Illustration found here).

Although Obama approved 17,000 more troops this week, emphasizing “the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires,” the NATO Commander, US Gen. David McKiernan painted a “tough year” ahead despite the added GIs.
Mckiernan wants as many boots on the ground in country, but even then, as he says, since the southern areas where the Taliban is the strongest has “stalemated” and unlike Iraq, this is no hit-hard-and-get-out-quick operation:

  • He said that he could not determine exactly how long the troops would be there, but that the buildup would “need to be sustained for some period of time,” and that he was looking at “the next three to four or five years.”

And the good, rotund general also bucked history:

  • General McKiernan, who declared three times during the news conference that “the insurgency will not win in Afghanistan,” said that the failed history of the British and the Soviet Union in Afghanistan should not be a predictor of America’s future in the country.
    “There’s always an inclination to relate what we’re doing now with previous nations,” General McKiernan said, adding, “I think that’s a very unhealthy comparison.”

The Soviets had at least 100,000 troops in country for 10 years! (Rotating more than 600,000 through the country).
Talk about unhealthy — The Soviet Armed Forces lost 14,453 personnel, 417 servicemen were missing in action or taken prisoner; the debacle eventually led to the demise of Soviet Russia.
Other than that…

Main problem, the “outsider” complex: US troops face the distrust and anger from the population and the slaughter of civilians has just about lost the average Afghan’s heart and mind.
Last month, Newsweek screamed Obama’s Vietnam, comparing the Southeast Asia mess with the current South Asia mess, concluding there’s “no easy way out.”
And just this week, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said in a statement released on Tuesday — which received little if no media attention — that maybe more GIs in Afghanistan is not the right plan of action.
According to Raw Story:

  • “Sending more US troops made sense in, say, 2006, and it may still make sense today,” he wrote. “The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated badly over the past year, however, despite a larger US and coalition military presence.
    “We need to ask: After seven years of war, will more troops help us achieve our strategic goals in Afghanistan?” he continued.
    “How many troops would be needed and for how long? Is there a danger that a heavier military footprint will further alienate the population, and, if so, what are the alternatives?
    And with the lessons of Iraq in mind will this approach advance our top national security priority, namely defeating Al Qaeda?
    “We must target Al Qaeda aggressively, and we cannot allow Afghanistan to be used again as a launching pad for attacks on America,” he added. “It is far from clear, however, that a larger military presence there would advance these goals.”

Obama and the US might be like that coyote who’s ran way, way out over a cliff, and once he realized his fatal error, starts grabbing at nothing but air as he falls way, way down into a far, deep canyon to spatter in a tiny, tiny dot.

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