Monday, November 08, 2010

Taliban Honcho: "Why negotiate? We're Winning..."

Okay, so the source is (P)MSNBC -- take it with a grain of salt -- but, yeah, I happen to agree with this walking pile of dirty laundry with a beard. The Pentagon's insistence notwithstanding, we're not "winning"in Afghanistan -- not by the metrics we're using to tally victories.

Hamid Karzai isn't a very popular man. He wasn't when we installed him -- basically, it was at gunpoint -- in the Presidency, and he didn't magically become any more popular as we looked the other way at his alleged corruption. First forgotten lesson of Vietnam: you can't "promote democracy" in a land with no history of democratic institutions when the government you've created for them doesn't do it's duty without regard for the law, or even a set of ethics. It makes democracy look bad, and people are unable to identify any differences between the previous autocratic government and the current corrupt one.

Except for the Purple Thumbs, of course.

These people don't value the concepts of "freedom" and"democracy" because they don't know what any of that jazz is, what it's good for, or how it's supposed to be used. For most of these guys , the ability to continue life as it is -- the right to rape your goats, beat your wives with impunity, and carry an AK-47 -- is about all they want out of life (under different circumstances, these guys would probably be right at home in rural Mississippi or Appalachia). They don't see the value in any system of thought or government that threatens this state of affairs, assuming they understand anything that doesn't go "BOOM!".

It also doesn't help when the Secretary of State and the President have pretty much told the world that Karzai is a bastard, but well, he's our bastard, and we're stuck with him. That fact, probably more than any other, has given the Afghan opposition, especially the Taliban, hope.

Second forgotten lesson of Vietnam: it isn't enough to just kill the enemy in the field. You need to break his morale, and his will and means to continue fighting. This means inflicting inhuman suffering upon your enemy. Predator drone strikes just don't cut it. Until the greater mass of the people in the Northwest Frontier are starving to death, reduced to drinking from mud puddles, eating grubs andbits of undigested vegetable matter from animal dung, covered in suppurating sores, in constant physical pain and discomfort, and see their children dying for lack of the basic necessities, the Taliban will continue to exist.

Since this inhuman suffering is the natural state of affairs in this part of the world, it might,perhaps, be beyond our capabilities to make life measurably worse, in any meaningful sense, for anyone.

The third forgotten lesson of Vietnam: you're fighting with one hand tied behind your back when you allow your enemy unfettered access to weapons and material support from a third-party. Anyone who believes Pakistan is a dedicated ally of this country is taking mind-altering drugs. The Pakistanis created the Taliban, after all, and it is some elements within the Pakistani government which are rearming, funding and providing intelligence to the Taliban, not to mention giving them haven in the Northwest Frontier.

Pakistan merely goes through the motions of fighting terrorism, because the military aid that flows from America to Islamabad is what keeps the ruling elite in their position, and the economic aid we provide is what keeps what passes for a Pakistani economy from completely collapsing, and creating a second Afghanistan...only with nukes.

So, yeah, if I were the Taliban, and the Americans cannot a) show that democracy is something Afghans should get on board with, b) inflict enough damage/suffering upon the Taliban and their supporters to get them to rethink the validity of their cause, and c) get Pakistan to be an honest partner in this fight, no matter how much we bribe them, then, yeah, I would say "I'm winning", too.

They only have to wait out US public opinion. We have to actually fight. They're doing their part, we're pretending to do ours, and our servicemen have been paying the price for this pussyfooting-about strategy. Mark my words: General Petreus, before this year is up, will ask the President for more troops for Afghanistan, and insist that we're thisclose to "victory", while trying to make the case that American withdrawal in 2011 (as scheduled) would deprive the US of a well-deserved victory that otherwise cannot justify the sacrifices in blood already made.

And Obama, like Lyndon Johnson, will fall for it hook-line-and-sinker. Victory in Afghanistan in a conventional sense, is impossible. Victory can only be measured in human suffering, and it is exactly that level of suffering that the US Military, as deadly and efficient a force as it is, cannot generate. In fact, it strenuously tries to avoid killing anyone it doesn't have to, and provides food, schools, roads, sanitation and electricity to people who are only one incident removed from changing sides -- which is the Afghan national past time, anyway.

The fourth forgotten lesson of Vietnam: you can't keep tying an elusive "victory" to regular requests for more of everything. Every time you ask for more men, you're not inspiring confidence that you can, indeed, win. Westmoreland was sure he was winning, too...but somehow, he kept finding himself asking for more and more troops. That victory he kept talking about was always pushed back a bit further until he got them. Eventually, he had half-a-million troops under his command, and even when he did win great victories (Khe Sahn, Tet, Hue), he somehow managed to still lose.

Anyways, lovely bit of revisionist history here:

"Look, the Americans call us terrorists; what terrorist act did we ever commit? They traveled 10,000 miles to us and forced us to wage jihad against the Russians, who were their enemies, and now they are waging a war against us. We are Afghans and Afghanistan is our country. All we want is for the Americans to leave us alone; only then will there be peace in Afghanistan."

Until they start fighting each other over who gets to molest the donkeys, of course. Yeah, we forced them to fight the Russians...asshat.

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