No victory or something like that 0

Just when a discovery of vast mineral wealth provides at last a good reason for America to win the war in Afghanistan – and not just win but conquer , and not just conquer but even better colonize the country, though that of course is a notion that will never even be considered – the lefty establishment so feebly in charge is despairing of winning even a few battles against the barefoot militia of  primitive Taliban terrorists. Of course the magnificent American military could win easily, but not if their commanders don’t give the right orders, and tie the hands of their soldiers with crazy rules of engagement, and force their fighters to act as social workers, and make them uncertain about the worth of the campaign by giving the enemy a date when they’ll be withdrawn.

That’s what Gates and (laugh out loud) Commander-in-Chief Obama are doing to them, and it’s enough to make a good commander, like General Petraeus, faint! (Which he did while declaring that he supported the announced date of withdrawal.)

The Washington Times reports on the subdued despair spreading through the Pentagon:

A series of political and military setbacks in Afghanistan has fed anxiety over the war effort in the past few weeks, shaking supporters of President Obama’s counterinsurgency strategy and confirming the pessimism of those who had doubts about it from the start.

The concerns, fed largely by unease over military operations in southern Afghanistan that are progressing slower than anticipated, spurred lawmakers to schedule last-minute hearings this week to assess progress on the battlefield and within the Afghan government. …

Strong Taliban resistance and lagging Afghan government participation have slowed progress in Marja, a district at the center of the Helmand campaign, creating the image that things have not been going as well as anticipated.

That image was compounded last week when Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the military operations in Kandahar would not begin in force until September. …

In public statements last week, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates sought to tamp down expectations that results would be definitive by December.

“We are going to have to show by the end of the year that our strategy is on the right track and making some headway,” Gates said. “I don’t think anyone has any illusions that we’ll be done or that there will be big victories or something like that. ..

Others are [even] more doubtful. “It’s clear the Marja operation did not go as smoothly as expected,” said Frederick Jones, spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). Kerry, he added, “is concerned that the Taliban is reestablishing itself there.”

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who has traveled to Afghanistan, said he was “decidedly dubious” of the Obama administration’s war strategy from the start. “I’m trying to see how a year from now we’ll be in any better position than we are today. It’s difficult for me to see a way out here.” …

Even within the military, there are concerns, and “I sense the same division of opinion,” said Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations… “Some folks are very worried that the picture in December is going to look like it’s not worth the price,” said Biddle, a defense expert who was part of a planning group recruited by McChrystal last year to help formulate a new war strategy.

Note to some of our critics: When there is a blue line down the side of indented paragraphs, it means that we are quoting – whether to agree, criticize, or oppose, we state in our own comments.

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.

A question of belief 1

The Washington Post reports:

In theory, the Afghan government is in place in Kandahar, but its authority is nominal. Bombings and assassinations have left the government largely isolated behind concrete barricades and blast walls. In the latest burst of violence, a suicide squad struck across the city late Saturday, detonating bombs at a recently fortified prison, the police headquarters and two other sites … At least 30 people were killed.

For the first time in years, however, the U.S. military again has Kandahar in its sights.

American troops are seeking to reclaim the city and surrounding province, where the Taliban has proved resurgent, more than eight years after the U.S.-led invasion forced the group from power. But a visit here last week made clear that American forces will face an insidious enemy that operates mainly in the shadows and exercises indirect control through intimidation and by instilling fear. The provincial governor remains mostly behind barricades. The provincial council has trouble convening because many members have fled to Kabul. The police are viewed as ill-trained, corrupt and possibly in league with criminal gangs.

The environment here [is] more complicated than the one the Marines have encountered in neighboring Helmand province and the town of Marja, where the Afghan government’s presence was nonexistent and where Taliban fighters were massed in large numbers. The Marines took Marja with relative ease, installing a governor handpicked by the Kabul government.

In Kandahar city, residents say, real power rests with Ahmed Wali Karzai, head of the council and the younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Ahmed Karzai has been accused of vote rigging and involvement in the drug trade, allegations he has consistently denied. The eight judges still working in the city and province live together for security, packed into an impregnable compound, behind gray concrete walls topped with razor wire. …

If Kandahar city is sliding into lawlessness, the surrounding province appears in even worse shape. In the city, the government has retreated behind concrete barricades; in much of the countryside, there is no government presence. …

Haji Raz Mohammed, president of a district council, said he regularly negotiates with the Taliban to prevent its fighters from destroying development projects. “The Taliban is there, the Americans are there, the government is there,” he said, “But nobody is really in control of the district.”

To operate so easily, in the city and the province, the Taliban must rely on some level of local support. …

“The majority of people say they are afraid of the Taliban,” said a paid adviser to the government’s reconciliation commission in Kandahar. “But they are better than the government, because the government is so corrupt.”

We are to understand that “the coalition forces” – ie America and Britain  – will win the war in Afghanistan; that the lives lost and the blood shed to turn Afghanistan into a peaceful democratic country have not been sacrificed in vain. We have to try to believe that Afghanistan will soon have a government that is no more corrupt than most western governments are; that the traditionally warring tribes will from  then on forget their old hatreds and live peacefully with one another; that there will be no, or at least much less, drug trading; that the criminal gangs will become less of a danger; that the police will be well-trained and less corrupt; that the Taliban will give up its passionate warfare and bow to the democratically elected government; that the whole miserable place will become something like Surrey or California.

Or what?

And who can believe it?

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary, Islam, Muslims, Terrorism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Sunday, March 14, 2010

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