There is barely a day that passes without the drone-like reminder that the world we now live in is riddled with the carnage left by the blood lusting and demonically influenced hordes in our midst. One would think that after 10 years of studying and fighting this enemy, we might actually have a firm understanding of him and have determined how best to defeat him.
We certainly should have been able to determine what doesn't work.
Instead, we unilaterally placed a "governor" on our force projection which presumed to increase trust and goodwill amongst the Afghan population by reducing civilian casualties. In so doing, we necessarily extended the need for US forces there into perpetuity. And we did this based on a faulty presumption; that the average Afghan did not agree - to greater degree, with the Taliban. It also almost by necessity assumes then that the average Afghan does not see us as anything other than good people coming to the rescue.
Both of these assumptions are wrong and have been proven wrong, over and over again. All COIN has left us with is a river of blood - American blood. It is needless and will prove to have been for naught because without a discernable victory, there can be no definable end.
We have been so sure of our perception of this enemy that we have extended it to other countries where he resides and other situations. From the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and their venomous propaganda in Egypt to revelations that Al Qaeda agents are "guiding" the NTC in Libya, we are reminded, daily, that this administration and this government in general, has chosen to blind itself to this self-defined enemy and has recklessly endangered our Warriors in the process.
This is fruit of what I believe to be a deliberate effort to ignore the low probability of a trustworthy cooperation between not only the Afghan government and us, but certainly, the Pakistani government and us as well. If suggesting you can massage a snake long enough to safely extract venom without eventually getting bit is risky business then blindfolding yourself in the process is foolish.
The argument that the killing of civilians during combat operations or even the night raids which were all but halted by the ROE, drives "innocent civilians" into the arms of the Taliban, further exposes the lie that the average Afghan hates the Taliban. Herschel Smith did an excellent analysis of the story by the Christian Science Monitor. And while this article dares to suggest that night raids have continued, they have largely been conducted by Afghan forces. Our involvement was curtailed by a decision made over 2 years ago.
The follow on argument deals with the conduct of open combat operations against the Taliban. As the argument goes; "You can't kill your way to Victory". I beg to differ. You will have to explain that to the men who fought in the last war this country actually won and, I might add, in two different theaters of operation and against uniformed armies no less determined. The suggestion that there is no limit to the number of recruits the Taliban can raise ignores one main point; even the devout wince at pain!
Of course, you have to be willing to deliver the pain.
Even while "the fight" against the Taliban continues in Afghanistan, the United States has facilitated the opening of a Taliban "office" in Qatar by "blessing" it. And even though the Haqqani network along the Afghan Pakistani border, saw fit to launch an attack against the US Embassy in Kabul, last week, we are still reaching out to them. The "open channel" was buffered by remonstrations by Hillary Clinton who demanded the Pakistan government attend to the situation, but it is certainly made hollow by the universal knowledge that this administration sees conflict resolution as sharing tea and goat meat at a "peace table" with all elements of the Taliban, Kabul and the US present rather than punishing those who aided in an assault against the Embassy or these shores.
For those who can't follow the logic; let me help you: Reaching out to the Haqqani Network, right now, after so brazen an attack in Kabul, against Sovereign US territory, would be akin to reaching out to Al Qaeda one week after the Trade Towers were blown back to the earth.
The thing that is most troubling is that while the Pakistani government is pressuring the US to end the war in Afghanistan, they are simultaneously demanding that it be done in a way that "meets their needs". Of course, they also want assurances we will support their security needs along their border with India.
Now why in the world, would anyone side with someone proven untrustworthy who is at war against a nation we have a good, healthy relationship with?
The audacity of Pakistan in all of this could only be missed by the completely ignorant or naive. We have had problems with cross border raids from Pakistan since we first invaded Afghanistan and attacks on logistic trains which run north from Karachi and through the Khyber Pass have been allowed to continue, unabated for as long. Their entire intelligence apparatus is so corrupt that even Islamabad can't tell you who they actually trust.
Cooperation has been a one way street and none of this should have been or should be a surprise for if the Pakistani government, the Afghan government or the Afghan or Pakistani population can be depended on for anything, it is treachery; at least where dealing with us is concerned.
After all, they still have far more in common with each other than they ever will with us, and they have a shared religious ideology that in the end, trumps all it's presumed ties.