Okay, I was just watching Geraldo At Large on FoxNews, and one of the guests was Jesse Ventura, former pro-wrestler, former-governor of the State of Minnesota. Normally, anything Ventura has to say goes in one ear and out the other, mostly because the words he utters have so little substance that they manage to pass between the spaces between atoms without slowing down. Now, Jesse Ventura is an intelligent man; he just also happens to be a political poseur; his maverick governor routine was just one more variation on that old WWF-heel character of his, and the new-and-improved-Jesse-the-Conspiracy-theorist-being-spied-upon-by-the-US-government is, too.
It's just another persona that Jesse has put on in order to make a better-than-average living without having to actually work.
I saw Mel Gibson play that character in a very bad movie, once...Anyways...
The subject was Afghanistan, vis-a-vis Patrick Kennedy's rant on the Press ignoring the War. Ventura made a comment about bringing back the Draft (conscription), which is something he thought would either:
a) Have ended this war (and the one in Iraq) already, or
b) Made our political leadership more reticent about getting involved in foreign adventures in the first place.
Unfortunately, Geraldo was brain dead this evening and didn't get much of a clarification on just what Ventura was aiming at specifically. Ventura added that some (most) troops have been deployed multiple times to either theatre, already, and the hint was left hanging was that more troops and fewer deployments would have worked out much better for all involved.
I half-way agree with him, but in this regard only: it's not enough to send MORE troops, you have to send the RIGHT KINDS. And then once you have the right sorts, you have let them do what soldiers are supposed to do: kill the enemy.
What both wars have required is your basic infantry soldier, trained up to be as lethal as possible, and available in numbers great enough to occupy larger swathes of territory and ensure that whatever Uncle Sam has taken, Uncle Sam can keep and instill his system upon. One of the problems the U.S. military has had since the Second World War is a lack of infantry units, and the advance of technology has only made that worse; our ground forces, prior to these two wars, were built around the tank, and designed to fight the Soviet Union attacking with masses of armored vehicles upon the German plains. After Desert Storm, the only lesson learned was that the modern, technologically-advanced, tank-heavy force (which is impossible to transport without months of preparation and requires supply convoys miles long which are vulnerable to guerrillas) is invincible, and any other nations would be stupid to try and fight us. And we would not need to change. Ever.
Then came Sepetember 11. And the US Army had to go into Afghanistan -- that's not tank country -- and it's not even a state with a national army, and it's bascially a bunch of guys in raggedy pajamas who are born snipers and masters of exploiting terrain to their advantage, adept at using 50-year old weapons very effectively. It's an infantry war, an extremely-low-tech, old-fashioned trench warfare sort of infantry war, and we don't have those sorts of infantrymen (or is it infantrypersons?) anymore. What few we DO have expect to be driven to battle in a fully-armored, air-conditioned steel limousine, following behind tanks and air support, and then to basically just mop up the four or five stunned-and-scared-shitless-but-eager-to-surrender survivors they might find. What light infantry forces we have (Airborne, Marines, Mountain Infantry, which are perfect for these circumstances) are already on the job, but they're stretched to their limits -- hence the repeated deployments -- because there aren't enough of them, and the military will not raise new regiments and divisions; that's expensive, and we're supposed to be fighting cheap, on the Rumsfeld model.
Conversely, Iraq after the very weak "Shock and Awe" (which everyone could watch sitting in sandstorms on TV for three weeks before they reached Baghdad) very quickly turned into a house-to-house and counter-insurgency fight, like that in Fallujah and the Sunni Triangle. You need an awful lot of infantry to fight battles like that, and ours wasn't trained in that sort of close-quarter's battle. They were then expected to keep order -- in a country where everyone was so confident that we'd be welcomed as 'liberators' -- simply by walking around with a rifle visible. And because Iraq was a more 'sophisticated' place than Afghanistan, we didn't even send a whole bunch of those combat troops; the majority of the troops there are support troops (truck drivers, Public-relations and Civil relations types, and engineers. It was judged more important to rebuild Iraqi schools and golf courses than to kill Iraqi soldiers and Ba'athist sympathizers, apparently).
We saw how that worked out: seven times into Fallujah, only to have the Iraqi "provisional" government pull us out on the verge of victory each time, and then elevating their "leader" to Parliament, losing men a few at a time to IED's, or having supply convoys attacked by "insurgents" in "pacified" areas because there weren't enough troops to keep them"pacified for long". No, instead, we were concerned about the museums being looted...
In both wars we've fought with one hand tied behind our backs. The rules of engagement are ridiculous, and are more easily understood if they are intended to ensure that American forces don't cause legal and political problems in front of a CNN camera crew, rather than to kill the enemy and protect themselves. This is something that Ventura seems to have missed; These wars would have been over a long time ago (without the need for multiple deployments and a decade of casualties and treasure) if we had just remembered what soldiers are supposed to do, and how they're supposed to do it;
War is about killing people and breaking things. This isn't war; it's a public relations campaign with guns directed at people who'll hate us and our culture regardless of how many schools and hospitals we build.
What, exactly, have we been fighting for and what have we gained? To "bring democracy to the Middle East"? What the hell for? It's not as if the Iraqis or Afghans know what that is, or what it's good for, and if we were serious about showing them we'd have to commit to being there for the next 100 years and replace the culture -- as well as probably kill millions --in the process. I don't see much cultural destruction/transformation going on, and I don't see piles of corpses. Iraqis may be glad that Saddam Hussein is gone, but they know that sooner or later another moron who is just as brutal will one day rise to take his place, and while they might be voting now, they know how fragile that franchise will be once the Americans leave, as leave we must.
The Afghans? They're fighting to maintain a way of life which is centered around bestiality, banditry and buggery. Those guys are are the modern-day Huns. They don't have much use for a college education. They're not battling one another to see who can get the first plasma television in the neighborhood. They don't want to become dentists, computer programmers or CPA's. They'd rather be drug dealers and thieves. They're not fighting amongst themselves, and against us, because they're dying for the GAP, KFC and The Dukes of Hazard; They're fighting to remain ignorant savages, to retain a way of life which is as natural to them as breathing, even if it strikes us as barbaric, brutal, and repressive.
Hamid Karzai's life can be measured in minutes as soon as the last American chopper leaves Kabul.
The strategy of bringing both countries, such as they are, into the modern world with freer political systems and market-based economies with which we can do a mutually-beneficial commerce, are probably going to fail. Mostly because Arabs and Afghans are apparently genetically unable to make the choice between blindly following the insane words of a dead pedophile, and making decisions which might be beneficial to themselves. The phrase "inside every ________ is an American dying to get out" does not apply here . They don't want to be like us, in fact they often feel themselves to be our moral superiors, and if given the chance they'd kill or enslave us in a heartbeat. Allah gives them that right and that command, you know. Therefore, any plan which envisions a (more) lengthy American presence in either place is a waste of lives and fortunes.
If the ultimate goal is to "defeat terrorism" and "Keep Al'Qaeda from reforming and using Afghanistan as a base", well then you've missed your chance. You missed it because you wanted to be liked so much more than feared that you failed to make a terrible, great, bloody slaughter of every man, woman, child and stray dog you came across. Not only would you have killed terrorists and potential terrorists, you would have set a fearsome example of what happens when you cross the United States (I would personally have left both countries self-lighting, glass-topped parking lots, washed my hands of it all afterwards, dared the rest of the Muslim World to try that shit again, and screw what world opinion has to say -- they do little but posture and lecture us while they grovel before the Muslim World, and support it with welfare.
Now, ten years have passed and the chance to engage in that sort of destruction, the sort that brought Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan to their knees, has come and gone and will never be considered as anything but an admission of defeat by this generation of ass-wipe leaders, if and when they ever need to take that tool out of the box. They'd be afraid to unleash American power, because it would be embarrassing to them and their precious reputations.
As for ex-Governor Ventura, instead of asking "why don't we have a Draft?", why not ask how it was that the military got talked into the ridiculous idea that it could change an entire culture without making anyone bleed and without bouncing some rubble? How is that the Military that Learned the Lessons of Vietnam, seems to have truly learned so very little?
Update: Lumpy, Grumpy and Frumpy posts this little tidbit about raging heroin addiction and Afghan police recruits. The New Huns, I tell you.