Whack and go 79

America’s war in Afghanistan is at long last coming to an end.

Daniel Greenfield has these thoughts on the failed campaign:

Obama has made it clear that Karzai has no future, and that means that a growing realignment is happening in Afghanistan. With two sides to choose from, one that is on the way out, and one that is on the way in, a new tide of support is flowing away from the American backed government and to the Taliban. …

Afghanistan is the Muslim world at its most elementally tribal with fewer of the mock civilized interfaces between the Westerner and the ragged edge of the frontier than are found in Pakistan or the Middle East.

The Taliban took power there in the same way that Mohammed once did in the Arabian desert, by packing together ruthless brutality and a fanatical religious ideology. Their coalition was based on naked power and terror. Ours was based on foreign aid, elections and soldiers digging wells. It’s not that we never had a shot, but that we were trying to impose order on what is really a permanent state of chaos.

Even before the choppers have begun taking off, the chaos is reclaiming the land. The Islamists will return, celebrate their victory, and fall into another civil war. Without foreign troops there to target, they will not be able to count on the same level of aid from the Muslim world. Which will move the clock back to before the American invasion.

Kabul will hold out for a while, but eventually it will fall, and all the NGO’s, the girls we taught to read, the elections and the laws will all go back under the Burqa. …

The story will play out the same way that it did in Vietnam and the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Not because it was foretold, but because we lost sight of what the mission was.

The same mission creep took hold in Afghanistan and Iraq, that has taken hold in most of our wars. We stopped fighting to destroy an enemy and began trying to win the hearts and minds of the population. No longer as a means, but as an end. …

If we had put our focus into hunting down the Taliban, wiping out any village that harbored them and leaving behind a trial of chaos and refugees, then we would have at least taught a lasting lesson.

But for what? Is it certain that 9/11 was prepared in Afghanistan, or was Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, or even perhaps Iran, when he plotted the attack?

One might think that America should have whacked the Taliban regardless of whether it had anything to do with 9/11. Perhaps another whack may be necessary one day. But America should whack and go.

Instead we believed that by exporting our system, we could implement a state of stability. Transform Afghanistan from a collection of villages and hovels run by gangs and large families into something more modern. The effort was doomed to fail. Afghanistan is not a modern state. It isn’t a state at all. Like most of the Muslim world it’s a patchwork of families and clans with borders and a flag stuck on top. To run it, is a matter of managing chaos. …

Our drive for democracy was based on a fundamental error. We had not taken into account that the difference between us and them, was not that we had voting booths, and they didn’t. But that we were civilized and they weren’t.

Is civilization rendered impotent by its own moral values when it comes to using force against savages?

When the Romans despaired of taming wild tribes they built walls to keep them at bay: the limes in Germany, Hadrian’s Wall in Britain. In our time, no wall can protect us from Islamic savages. From time to time we will need to whack them, but we should never hang about trying to tame them.

How can we possibly learn the answer, when we keep asking the wrong question. … The right question wasn’t how do we stabilize Afghanistan, it was how do we find the people who did this to us and teach them and their backers an enduring lesson.

There was a brief shining moment when we understood that this was the question. When it was “You’re either with us or against us” and “Give us Bin Laden’s head”. When politicians seemed to have reverted to the common sense approach of the man on the street. But then the experts took over. And the question became one of reconstructing Afghanistan in the name of some greater good. Now the Taliban are giving the final answer to that question.

The only true moral of war is that you shouldn’t begin one that you aren’t going to fight to win. And we didn’t fight to win. We fought for hearts and minds. And now when the troops go, we will discover how little those hearts and minds were worth all along.