Not making a difference since 2006. Blog motto: Always be sincere whether you mean it or not.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Wrong From the Start

Randall Parker strikes again. We are losing in Afghanistan. Of course he is highlighting the obvious, but I guess that has to be done over and over again as few of us get it the first time.

I would not wish to repeat what Mr. Parker is ably doing. My focus today is to show what a deficient personality I really have and knaw on an old rug like a senile dog.

Remember the heady days after 911. Well, I do, but how clearly? Good question. I'm having more and more senior moments all the time. I remember the general tone being, "We gotta get those bastards." So we started bombing Afghanistan and cooperating with the Northern Alliance, a group of freedom loving patriots who quoted from the collected works of Bill Bennett. With our air support, they turned the flank. We sent troops in and chased the remnants of the Taliban out and installed a government and freed women and all that. Noble stuff.

It was all a waste. All of it. We did not get the self confessed mastermind of every bad thing that has happened to us. That evil Taliban is back. What people forget is that the Taliban was not defeated. They retired in good order. Certainly good enough order that they were able to regroup and return to battle. Not only that it looks like Round 15 of a 15 rounder and what looked in the early rounds like a mismatch with that big lanky guy from the West landing a few roundhouse rights has changed. That cagey boy from the East got on his bicycle and just circled around, landing a jab here and there, staying out of reach, while wearing the big guy down. In the final round, the betting has shifted, big time. This is how the Afghan Kid has won all his fights, seemingly a pushover in the early going then coming back later on. And, he has won all his fights (maybe the contretemps with Big Alex can be called a draw, but that's about it).

But of course, this time it was going to be different. Right. Anyone who thought the GIs giving out nylon stockings and chocolate thing was going to work this time was nuts. Actually, all that ranting about "United we stand" was little more than the raging of a drunk in a bar. Trust me, it's been a long time, but it's a subject I know something about.

So, I can hear no one say, though they might, what would have been your great plan, smart guy. Well that's the thing. I have no illusions about my genius, but all too many of my country's leaders do. If, by some bizzare circumstance, I had been invited I would have laid out the options thus, "Scenario one, we can invade that country and try to capture bin Laden. To do it right so that he can never come back if he escapes, it will take hundreds of thousands of troops and several decades to change the culture and more likely our culture will change. Oh, we will probably leave without actually effecting the desired change. Scenario two, I would withdraw all our troops from overseas and secure our borders.

So by now, if you are awake, you are saying, does this guy want to just give the terrorists a pass? No, I want to win. Hey, I'm from Red Sox country: I know what losing is* and it seems that our military and foreign policy wonks are, even still, hell bent in merely taking us into one labyrinth after another.

The most intelligent strategy I have ever heard was best explained in a letter to the letters page years ago. It was posted by George D. of the UK, "the terrorists could have been hunted one-by-one by having a special task force that deals with it, like Israel did in hunting the Nazi war criminals, without going to war with the country that provided shelter for them."

Of course such a policy would need focus over a long term and could not be a TV war and no party out of power would have been able to resist accusing the administration of doing nothing.

No, the Afghan thing will continue on until the inevitable and like the Brits and Russians, we shall leave, maybe with some face saving fig leaf, but we shall leave.

*So they finally won the series, long after I lost interest in sports in general and the Red Sox Nation fanaticism in particular. I am probably the only person in New England who does not own a piece of Sox regalia. Still have my Ted Williams baseball card.

I'll leave baseball fanship to heavy hitters like George Will. I'll also leave pushing for wars to him as well.


Anonymous said...

Between this and that recent post asserting we lost every war of the 20th century, it's tough to tell whether you're serious (but ignorant) or just being belligerent. Please don't respond, I don't think I could deal with either possibility in any way which kept me reading your blog.

tvoh said...

I would certainly hate to lose a reader, but rather than throwing a bomb, would it not be more productive to actually make a point?

C'mon, tell me exactly where you disagree with me so that I can regret your departure if it must be.

Honest disagreement I welcome, but shoot and scoot is bad manners.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, but it's the recommended tactic for a delaying action against a superior force.
It's tough to see if you're honestly offering an alternative course of action, or just complaining. If it's the former, I disagree on several grounds and if the latter, well, you can't expect your complaints to have any weight.
Generally your postings indicate someone too wise to be "against everything and for nothing", but neither of those possibilities is very palatable to me.

tvoh said...

So you came back to answer and then you did not answer. My Dear Sir or Madam, I contend it is you who are not serious.

I would love to have captured Bin Laden and strung him up. It was the current administration that abandoned, in real terms, the search for the man.

There has been nothing serious in our War on Terror (WOT). If you believe me, tell me how.

How is an open border policy not stupid in terms of the so called WOT?

Name the wars that we actually got something out of.

Otherwise, I am not absolutely unhappy that you go elsewhere.

tvoh said...

"against everything and for nothing"

I think I have made it clear what defense policy I believe in. I am a neutralist, which is to the knee jerker, isolationism. Our current policy is leading to ruin. If you think it is productive and will lead to a victory of sorts, please let me know.

An interaction with my readers is something I welcome. Ad hominem, well I hope you are too wise for that.

Anonymous said...

Ad hominem wasn't my intent. Before going on, I already concede that you're older and wiser, but nonetheless I look forward to your critique of my argument.
I oppose a "neutralist" (as you put it) strategy on two points.
First, I would prefer to see the economic and military primacy of the U.S. perpetuated (inasmuch as this is more appealing than leaving it to the Chinese), and doubt that this would be possible with the sort of policy realignment you've described. There are several reasons for this, such as the restriction of trade, the reduction in our ability to project "hard" power, and the enormous expense of retooling the military into an extension of the Border Patrol which your policy seems to require.
Second, I do not grant that this would make us much safer. Any determined foe (and I think people who delight wearing bomb belts count as such) would still be able to carry out terrorist attacks. If we've given up our pursuits in the Middle East in the course of securing the homeland, they'll most likely be able to do with less hindrance than if we were aggressively moving to deny them the support of a friendly state, as we are now. There's the fact that the U.S. hasn't suffered a proper attack since 2001; I am rather less confident that a Fortress America could claim the same.

Neither do I grant that killing Bin Laden was ever the top priority of the Afghan campaign. I believe you'll find that the primary objective was to deny Al Qaeda a secure base of operations such as they had enjoyed prior to the fall of the Taliban. In this there's been success, to date. As much as I would like to see Bin Laden on a slab, and as disappointed I am at the failure to capture him at Tora Bora or at the start of the campaign, I can't call the entire enterprise a failure.
Perhaps I've gone incoherent, as it's late and I'm rather tired, but I await your reply.