One would have thought or hoped that our fiasco in Vietnam all those years ago would have taught us (the USA) that trying to win the hearts and minds of the people in a foreign country is not the way to success in a war. And it is hard to impossible to win when we kill innoncent people along with bad guys, and generally disrupt the lives of those who live in the country.
But here we remain in Afghanistan more than a decade after the initial invasion with part of the enemy being the indigenous recruits we are trying to train, so much so that we have had to suspend the training.
Barack Obama has got himself into the LBJ tar baby (no racial slur meant here) mode (LBJ once told a colleague that Vietnam was like a tar baby, you know, like the old Brer Rabbit trick, once you touch the tar baby you can‘t unstick yourself). He, Obama, has to know the cause is all but hopeless but he also knows that if he quits he’ll always be known as the president who lost a war, who effectively surrendered.
And you would think that we would know better than to let our adversaries know that at some point we will pull out. An enemy has to know that you will never give up until, well you are defeated, or until you attain total victory.
The problem is that neither the civilian leadership nor even the military leadership seem to have the courage of their convictions. They only half fight wars nowadays. A lot of troops die this way.
But our leaders also do not get any clear signals from the public. The public is indifferent for the most part. The public probably hates to think America is weak but it will also not tolerate high casualties.
Maybe the cause over there — and just what is it again? I forgot — is hopeless and someone has to just say so and we pack up and come home.
Our rationale for going over there in the first place was that Afghanistan was controlled by the forces that attacked us on 9/11 and or by allies of theirs, the Taliban, and that the nation was the staging area for the attack and that it would not turn over Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen.
In some respects it seems strange that we would send an army to essentially go after one man or a few men. But then again, it seemed that we had a whole nation full of forces arrayed against us. So we invaded the country.
Using 20/20 hindsight, I realize, I think we should or could have done the blitzkrieg on them, unapologetically taking over the nation and setting up a provisional government and then let them be, with the warning that if they don’t behave, we’ll be back.
Or, we should have skipped the invasion and just concentrated on going after Bin Laden and captured him, or killed him, as we ultimately did a decade later.
War is often not the answer.
But despite the advance in technology, war is war and generally one side wins and the other loses. You can’t half win. If you simply quit, you lose by default. But better to cut your losses than to pile up more.
There can be stalemates, I suppose.
What did we accomplish in Iraq? The nation today is unstable and leans toward our arch enemy Iran. And we did not get control of the oil (which of course was the only rationale for going over there, whether we choose to admit it or not).
I for one want to hear President Obama and presidential contender Mitt Romney tell us what each one of them plans for Afghanistan now. Hopefully that will be addressed in debate.
Our war or military operations there, whatever you call it, is a continual drain on our economy, costs lives, and has major implications on our place in the world.