Dec

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A Thought, from Alan Millhone

December 1, 2009 |

It would take decades if ever to train Afghans, when many cannot read or write, to become soldiers. Our distorted views on political correctness will do nothing but get more of our soldiers killed or injured. Our generals if given a free hand win wars not the politicians. 

George Parkanyi comments:

I agree we (Canada is in this too) have to move in force on this. But it is a complex situation — too much force (excessive collateral damage) and you radicalize other parts of Islam; not enough and the existing infestation simply spreads like cancer. The Taliban are already destabilizing Pakistan. Giving them back free rein in Afghanistan will, I believe, seriously and rapidly exacerbate that, making India all the more nervous, never mind the rest of the world. India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, so allowing the Taliban and their ilk to access even a small portion of these is totally unacceptable.

911 let the genie out of the bottle; the radical element in Islam has seen the possibilities and smelled blood. We don't have the appetite to go on suicide mission after suicide mission - they unfortunately do, and we're in their house. They are not going to give up and will quickly fill any void we leave behind - so withdrawing really is not an option, at least not a sensible one. In that respect we're stuck, and have to finish this thing. I don't necessarily agree that training locals to defend themselves is that futile or being done merely in the interest of political correctness. A key (but not only) element in our strategy must be to continue to embrace and support moderate Islam, help them with resources - both economic and military, and let them get fed up enough with the extremists so that THEY fight back to preserve their way of life (and have plenty in hand to fight back with). They ultimately are the only ones that can permanently resolve this - at least within the borders of Islamic countries.

Stefan Jovanovich adds:

The Pakistanis are in an unenviable position - their sworn historical enemy, the Indians, are richer, better armed and now closer to the Americans. In the past they could rely on the Cold War rivalry and the Congress Party's infatuation with Marxism to keep the Indians separate from the Americans; now, with the financial and military collapse of the Soviet Union the Pakistanis have no choice but to be at least civil towards the Americans and to hope that our desire to "get Bin Laden" will continue to blind us to our real interests in the region. The references to the Taliban are irrelevant; the "rebels" in Afghanistan are now no more political than the ones in Columbia. To the extent that there is a political issue now in Afghanistan, it is purely an ethnic civil war that has always existed between the Pashtuns and the Tajiks and the other minority tribes. There is no likelihood that the Pashtus will "destabilize" the Pakistanis, the majority of whom are not the Pashtuns from the hills but Punjabi lowlanders. Think Scotland in the 17th and early 18th century. For all of their struggles against the English, the lowland Scots never once made common cause with the Highlanders.

Alan's comment about generals also needs a rebuttal. All generals are "politicians"; what we want are ones who are smart politicians. The current bunch are disappointingly short-sighted; they are afraid to tell the truth - namely, that we can largely leave Afghanistan to the Afghans and simply maintain the kind of armed oversight that we have kept in the Balkans for over a decade now. The Punjabis in Pakistan will make certain that the Pashtun faction does not gain the kind of control of Pakistan's own borders that the Taliban once had. (The Pakistani security forces are now doing more of the fighting and dying than anyone else in the region for that very reason.) The truth is that the smaller our presence the more the Punjabis will be willing to reassert their own control over the area without having any temptation to return to flirting with Arab notions of Jihad. The Pakistani's long-term concern is that we not leave them completely at the mercy of the peaceful neighbors in Delhi, who have not forgotten their own recent experience with terrorist bombings or who was behind them. But, it is impossible to imagine that any of our current masters of the Pentagon would be shrewd enough to come to these conclusions. For one thing, there wallets argue otherwise. For years the Democrats have been arguing that "the real enemy" was in Afghanistan; our current generals can't say we have already won. That would risk losing what few appropriations they still hope to get from a Democratic Congress. After all, big money for a pseudo-war is better than small money for an intelligent strategy. What our country needs is to have some 4-stripers put their careers on the line about the real strategic threats (the revolt of the Admirals that occurred in the Truman Administration would be my model), but I doubt very much we will see anything of the sort. On the contrary, the present crop of egg salad warriors are sufficiently dim-witted politically and militarily that they will probably be in favor of bringing back the draft in the name of economy and "national service".
 


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