Herschel Smith is one of those strategic analysts I have the greatest admiration for. His contribution to the effort to secure the safety and well-being of his fellow countrymen is heartfelt. He has no medals to win, no accolades to receive, no Presidential appointments waiting, no Nobel prize to collect. His concern is for the welfare of our Warriors and to insure the political class remembers to make clear and careful decisions when it affects our Warriors. His current piece is in the first link provided with this entry. So when I write about it; it is with this sense of respect I have for the man, his opinion and his heart in this matter.
While I 'get' the position of the Afghani's in this essay I still can't help wondering why we always seem to establish a second standard; one for us and one for the rest of the world. That old adage 'freedom isn't free' rings loud and clear for those of us who have served and experienced loss, but there is a very clear second standard for those who may be in a precarious situation not entirely unlike ours circa 1776. For whatever reason it always seems incumbent on us to provide the force and pay in blood and gold to secure their 'needs' while watching them stand on the sidelines paying us lip-service about all the 'support' they are/will give as soon as we provide them with security.
We really have to ensure our mission statement is an entirely American mission statement. This week and it's new revelations of what kind of strategy the current administration envisions is troubling at the least, monstrously cowardly at the worst. We now hear that the CIA, other coverts and State Department types are meeting with Taliban to try to convince them to leave the fight by offering them jobs?! Two weeks ago we were paying them to switch sides. There are currently meetings underway to come to a meeting of the minds with them to see how we can overcome our differences. Our differences?! Our differences amount to them wanting us dead and us not wanting to comply.
We have a history to consult and seem to refuse to heed it. The future they may envision for themselves (based on this piece) is unreasonable if they believe that after we have 'won' and move out their problems with the Taliban or other Sharia enforcers will be utterly defeated. History shows us they will only back up and regroup - possibly coming back with greater force. This ideological battle (Jihad/Holy War) is a mandate for them. Giving up the fight to play nice is tantamount to leaving the heart of the faith. It would be no different for a Christian who decided to abandon the Biblical Mandate to share the Gospel, for the greater good and 'world peace'. While there may be weak Christians who would give up on the Great Commission for a little earthly security, the majority of Christians would probably be inspired to re-double their efforts. Expecting the Taliban or their eventual replacements to act with a new found sense of responsibility to anything or one other than the Koran and themselves is a pipe dream.
The actual reality is chiseled in History and the Koran and 'true believers' are unlikely to be dissuaded. Building a strategy based on that hope is more likely to find us facing a stronger, more intent enemy in the future on yet another battlefield of their choosing. While this battle may be frustrating, it is never the less the battle of our present time. Our ability to muster the courage to fight it as Americans, as a uniquely American cause with uniquely American leadership, seeing it through to what should be the logical end of any armed conflict is what history will define as success or failure. Right now we are twisting in the breeze and becoming more unstable every day. I firmly believe our present CIC is completely out of his element and making decisions based on his personal interests in those regions of the world that have called us infidel (and enemy), rather than the best interest of the country he swore to protect. As for the Afghan people; they will do as they have always done and that is sidle up alongside the victor so they don't come up short. We need to fight this as though we had a moral obligation to the future of our country and our people because we do. The sad thing is the enemy is fighting that way and we are going about the business of politically appeasing them for the sake of a little temporary security while paying the 'poll tax' of money, work, promises and leniency on the battlefield.
How did we ever get here? The answer is even simpler than you might think. When the age of the classically taught American ended; so did the ability to reason and form opinions based on good, solid historical fact. What we have been fed and are still feeding students in our hallowed educational halls is an unabashed white-wash of actual events. These current 'historical texts' mirror the desires and intent of the writers rather than expounding on truth. It isn't all that difficult to debunk these abominations but it takes time and motivation. Most people who have dedicated the first 16-20 years of their lives to formal education in these institutions have done so at great cost and a belief that their Professors were teaching them truth. They are now seeking to fulfill their lives in their various trades and with their families. Many have passed into the FHAS stage (Fat, Happy and Stupid) of life defined by their belief that they have paid the price of required 'ticket-punching' in the form of the parchments they now display on their 'Me Walls'. For them; further pursuit of education is a waste of precious money making time. Wake up call: You won't be taking it with you, but the time you spend in trying to undo the damage or at least 'test the spirits' that taught you by re-educating yourselves might mean the difference between straightening out the errors and outright lies of academia and offering the next generation an opportunity... to live.
These links are the latest in interesting fodder for the argument I make that a focused Counter-Insurgency strategy, in this region of the world is doomed to failure:
http://www.captainsjournal.com/2009/11/24/afghanis-to-marines-dont-leave-too-soon/ - An observation of the complication of Afghani 'support'
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,576646,00.html - How we treat our Warriors
http://www.rawa.org/ - The abused Afghani women we are trying to help
http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2009/11/13/how-the-us-army-protects-its-trucks-and-8211-by-paying-the-taliban.html - Another absurd angle in 'COIN'