Turning an army into a charm school 14

But what better could be expected from Barry (“Chickenshit”) Obama?*

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 “Chickenshit” is on the right. The man on the left was a soldier who became the leader of his country.

This is from an article by Diana West at Townhall:

In the summer of 2009, U.S. Marines pushed into Afghanistan’s Helmand province to begin the new offensive that President Obama had ordered based on the model of President Bush’s Iraq strategy of nation-building and counter-insurgency (COIN). This fall, a little over five years later, U.S. Marines turned over their last base in Helmand to Afghan forces and, except for a residual force, left the country.

And?

Maybe a crescendo in background noise, but not much else. Surely, after 13 years of war, it’s not too soon for a public reckoning. Then again, maybe it’s too late. Maybe Americans have forgotten the fiasco of vision, strategy and tactics that civilian and military leaders forced onto the backs of U.S. service members. If so, it’s worth returning to those early days of this war’s final phase.

It started with that childish, lethal idea – COIN. The US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would fight to make the Islamic tribespeople of Afghanistan like us more than they liked the Islamic tribespeople of the Taliban. Then, according to COIN-plan, Western forces would transfer this fought-over affection of the Afghan people to the Kabul government that the West was simultaneously building and propping up. Presto – COIN victory.

Grown men gushed at the prospect. “Victory in this conflict is about winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people and engendering their trust,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Steven L. Kwast said in 2009. “When the Afghan people trust us and believe us when we tell them what we’re going to do, we will win this overnight.”

COIN’s fight for Afghan “hearts and minds” meant pandering was the order of the day. “I’m reading a very good book now about this part of the world. It’s written in English, but it’s all about you – it’s the Quran,” the top commander in Afghanistan at the time, Gen. David D. McKiernan, told Afghan tribal leaders in April 2009.

Did he really read it? Surely not – or how could he call that manual for massacre “a very good book”?

COIN also meant commanders ordered their troops into proximity and even intimacy with the local population – the menfolk, anyway, pederasts, polygamists and misogynists by culture and religion, and, all too often, jihadists.

You’re going to drink lots of tea. You’re going to eat lots of goat. Get to know the people,” Marine Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson said, explaining this COIN order of battle to officers in July 2009. “That’s the reason why we’re here.”

This was “population-centric COIN,” as executed by President Obama’s new ISAF commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. It is a doctrine that values (Afghan) population protection over (U.S.) force protection — but don’t worry, it’s all for the good of the “long-term” cause. In the “short term,” COIN commanders set highly restrictive “rules of engagement” to enforce the doctrine, undoubtedly leading to innumerable U.S. casualties.

And how’s that long-term cause doing?

On “60 Minutes” in October 2009, Marine Lt. Col. Christian Cabaniss explained how he got COIN concepts across to the fighting man.

“As I told the Marines before we deployed, it’s about a three-second decision, especially with his personal weapon. The first second is ‘Can I?’ The next two are ‘Should I?’ ‘What is going to be the effect of my action? Is it going to move the Afghan closer to the government or further away?'”

By which time the US soldier has been shot.

As even McChrystal would say about COIN in 2010, as reported in Rolling Stone: “This is the philosophical part that works with think tanks. But it doesn’t get the same reception from infantry companies.”

That’s because infantry companies deal with bullets, not PowerPoint. “I understand the reason behind it, but it’s so hard to fight a war like this,” Lance Corporal Travis Anderson told The Associated Press in 2010. “They’re using our rules of engagement against us,” he said, adding that his platoon had repeatedly seen men dropping their guns into ditches before disappearing among civilians.

COIN was also very much about stuff – “baksheesh,” or bribes – on a massive scale.

“What do you need here?” … McChrystal asked locals … on a walk-through in a Helmand town in 2010.

Schools. Security. Hospitals. Roads.

“Inshallah, we will provide the services as soon as possible.”  …

But Afghans still didn’t like us or trust us. Cultural chasm between Islam and the West, anyone? Nope, not enough COIN, U.S. commanders concluded.

When Gen. David Petraeus became ISAF commander in 2010, he issued a fresh, new COIN guidance that included: “Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population.”

Foot patrols on IED-laced roads made COIN horrifically costly. In June 2011, the U.S. Army reported on a new pattern of injury — “dismounted complex blast injury” — and defined it thus: “An injury caused by an explosion occurring to a service member while dismounted in a combat theater that results in amputation of at least one lower extremity at the knee or above, with either amputation or severe injury to the opposite lower limb, combined with pelvic, abdominal or urogenital injury.”

The final line may be most chilling of all: “This definition is not meant to define a subset of injuries for policy-making decisions.” Heavens, no. Keep walking those IED-laced roads, for the love of not Mike, but Ahmed. Keep reality from all policy-making decisions, or COIN will self-destruct, along with the reputations of its enforcers.

Exactly why a public reckoning is essential.

 

* An Obama administration official said recently that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is “chickenshit”, according to Jeffrey Goldberg writing in The Atlantic. The official was undoubtedly relaying the opinion of President Obama, who must have wanted it to be made public. If it wasn’t Obama himself saying it directly to the journalist. The implication was that Netanyahu was a coward. Why? For not bombing Iranian nuclear facilities  – an action he would probably have taken had not the Obama gang done everything they could to prevent him from doing it.

The wrong war 0

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if somehow, between now and July 2011 when American forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan, the Afghans could be made over into enlightened, fair-minded, peaceable people, free of old tribal conflicts, filled with a thirst for righteousness, respectful of women, eager to become law-abiding free-marketeers, and enthusiasts for establishing the customs and institutions that embody and support true democracy?

It would be more than wonderful, it would be a miracle.

But if that miracle could be worked, wouldn’t the achievement be worth the cost in blood and treasure of the long war America has been waging against the Taliban?

Some think so.

But what is actually happening among these backward, feuding, misogynistic, deeply ignorant people is a continuation of what has always been happening: feuding, subjugation of women, and savage cruelty – of which this is a very recent example from Afghan sources:

Taliban fighters have hanged a seven-year-old boy, claiming he was passing information to foreign soldiers in the volatile southern province of Helmand.

(“Volatile” is good. We like “volatile”.)

And of what is about to happen we are being nervously forewarned by US military commanders, according to this report from the Washington Post:

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Thursday that the civilian-military offensive scheduled to begin in the southern city of Kandahar this spring would take months longer than planned. The Afghan government has not produced the civilian leadership and trained security forces it was to contribute to the effort, U.S. officials said, and the support from Kandaharis that the United States was counting on Karzai to deliver has not materialized.

When you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them,” Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said … in explaining why the Kandahar operation has been pushed back until at least September.

“It’s a deliberative process. It takes time to convince people,” he told reporters at a meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels.

But time is short. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said this week that the U.S.-led coalition has until the end of the year to prove to the United States and its allies that their forces have broken a stalemate with the Taliban. …

In Marja, in western Helmand province, where Marines launched a major operation this year, U.S. efforts have been hindered by the absence or incompetence of Afghan officials and security forces and by the Taliban’s enduring resistance. …

Many  officials are despairing behind the scenes.

“Washington is making nice with [the corrupt President of Afghanistan] Karzai, but what good has that done?” a U.S. official in Afghanistan said. … “We need him to step up and take a leadership role, to get his government to support what we’re doing. But he’s either unwilling or unable to do it. …

In Kandahar, U.S. military officials said a complex web of official and unofficial power brokers stands to lose if efficient government and rule of law are imposed. “There are generations of families that have lived off corruption,” said 1st Lt. James Rathmann … who leads a platoon in Kandahar city …

The operational plan drawn up for Kandahar last spring began with U.S. Special Operations forces raids against individual insurgent leaders within the city and in the Taliban-heavy “bands” in surrounding districts. At the same time, U.S. civilians were to help organize shuras, or meetings of local leaders and elders, to offer development aid and encourage them to take political control. By June, more than 10,000 newly deployed U.S. troops were to begin clearing the Taliban from the outlying districts, up to 80 percent of which the military estimates is controlled by insurgents. …

McChrystal  … acknowledged that winning support from local leaders was tougher than expected. Some see the Taliban fighters as their Muslim brothers rather than oppressors; others are afraid of assassination by Taliban hit squads that target government supporters or see no advantage in challenging the existing political power structure.

“There’s no point in clearing an area until you have the capacity to do the hold, to bring governance” that does not now exist, one military official in Afghanistan said. “Without the Afghan government civilian capacity — without a district government that can provide some basic services — you’ll end up with what we’re experiencing in Marja right now.” …

Asked whether the delay leaves time for a decisive outcome by the end of the year, McChrystal was noncommittal. “It will be very clear by the end of the calendar year that the Kandahar operation is progressing,” he said. “I don’t know whether we’ll know whether it’s decisive. Historians will tell us that.”

Decisive? Changing Afghanistan forever? We don’t think so. Even if the Taliban fighters are wiped out in the forthcoming Battle of Kandahar, there will be no lasting change.

The war in Afghanistan is being fought for nothing.

The Taliban were whacked with the first offensive. The US should have withdrawn then, with a warning that if terrorists from Afghanistan attacked American targets again, they’d be whacked harder. The continuing campaign has been tragically pointless.

What American – or “coalition” – forces ought to be fighting is the urgently necessary war against the Iranian regime before it launches its nuclear attack.