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Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

AFGHANISTAN: WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING?

"It's almost as if there is something about that hard-edged Central Asian country that deranges its occupiers." --Conn Hallinan

Listen up. The Daddy is still trying to make sense of why we are in Afghanistan, putting our brave but poorly civilian-led soldiers at increased risk and waisting resources that can never be returned. A brotha just came across a very interesting article at "Foreign Policy Focus," and written by Conn Hallinan, a columnist at the Institute for Policy Studies (Iwww.ips-dc.org). It provides some clues about the thinking behind Obama's top advisors. Check it out:

Afghanistan: What are these people thinking?

One of the oddest -- indeed, surreal -- encounters around the war in Afghanistan has to be a telephone call this past July 27. On one end of the line was historian Stanley Karnow, author of Vietnam: A History. On the other, State Department special envoy Richard Holbrooke and the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. The question: How can Washington avoid the kind of defeat it suffered in Southeast Asia 40 years ago?

Karnow did not divulge what he said to the two men, but he told Associated Press that the "lesson" of Vietnam "was that we shouldn't have been there," and that, while "Obama and everybody else seems to want to be in Afghanistan," he, Karnow, was opposed to the war.

It is hardly surprising that Washington should see parallels to the Vietnam debacle. The enemy is elusive enemy. The local population is neutral, if not hostile. And the governing regime is corrupt with virtually no support outside of the nation's capital.

But in many ways Afghanistan is worse than Vietnam. So, it is increasingly hard to fathom why a seemingly intelligent American administration seems determined to hitch itself to this disaster in the making. It is almost as if there is something about that hard-edged Central Asian country that deranges its occupiers.

Delusion #1

In his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Obama characterized Afghanistan as "a war of necessity" against international terrorism. But the reality is that the Taliban is a polyglot collection of conflicting political currents whose goals are local, not universal jihad.

"The insurgency is far from monolithic," says Anand Gopal, a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor based in Afghanistan. "There are shadowy, kohl-eyed mullahs and head-bobbing religious students, of course, but there are also erudite university students, poor illiterate farmers, and veteran anti-Soviet commanders. The movement is a mélange of nationalists, Islamists, and bandits...made up of competing commanders and differing ideologies and strategies who nonetheless agree on one essential goal: kicking out the foreigners."

Taliban spokesman Yousef Ahmadi told Gopal, "We are fighting to free our country from foreign domination," adding, "Even the Americans once waged an insurgency to free their country."

Besides the Taliban, there are at least two other insurgent groups. Hizb-I-Islam is led by former U.S. ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyer. The Haqqani group, meanwhile, has close ties to al-Qaeda.

The White House's rationale of "international terrorism" parallels the Southeast Asian tragedy. The U.S. characterized Vietnam as part of an international Communist conspiracy, while the conflict was essentially a homegrown war of national liberation.

Delusion #2

One casualty of Vietnam was the doctrine of counterinsurgency, the theory that an asymmetrical war against guerrillas can be won by capturing the "hearts and minds" of the people. Of course "hearts and minds" was a pipe dream, obliterated by massive civilian casualties, the widespread use of defoliants, and the creation of "strategic hamlets" that had more in common with concentration camps than villages.

In Vietnam's aftermath, "counterinsurgency" fell out of favor, to be replaced by the "Powell Doctrine" of relying on massive firepower to win wars. With that strategy the United States crushed the Iraqi army in the first Gulf War. Even though the doctrine was downsized for the invasion of Iraq a decade later, it was still at the heart of the attack.

However, within weeks of taking Baghdad, U.S. soldiers were besieged by an insurgency that wasn't in the lesson plan. Ambushes and roadside bombs took a steady toll on U.S. and British troops, and aggressive countermeasures predictably turned the population against the occupation.

After four years of getting hammered by insurgents, the Pentagon rediscovered counterinsurgency, and its prophet was General David Petraeus, now commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia. "Hearts and minds" was dusted off, and the watchwords became "clear, hold, and build." Troops were to hang out with the locals, dig wells, construct schools, and measure success not by body counts of the enemy, but by the "security" of the civilian population.

This theory impelled the Obama administration to "surge" 21,000 troops into Afghanistan, and to consider adding another 20,000 in the near future. The idea is that a surge will reduce the violence, as a similar surge of 30,000 troops had done in Iraq.

For the rest of the story, click here:

6 comments:

.::STELLA*DELLA::. said...

Seems like recently in the past couple of weeks everyone has been asking WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING OVER THERE? And everyone just stands around and tries to pull an answer out of clean air!

Nun in the Hood said...

I have a grand nephew in Aphganistan and i hold my breath every time I watch the neww or read a paper.....I am away on retreat and will keep you and your readers and this horrible situation uppermost in my prayers...

MadMike said...

I spent some time in Vietnam a million years ago and it is true we didn't belong there, however comparisons between Afghanistan and Vietnam are not always accurate, except in the respect that "we don't need to be there."

While the Taliban is not, in and of itself, a threat to the world, only to the women of their country, it harbors organization, and finances in some cases, those same organizations.

We bombed Afghanistan because they enabled, sheltered, and harbored al Qaeda, a dangerous, well armed, military organization with an ideological goal unlike any seen for centuries. This action allowed 9/11 to happen. We did the right thing by "almost" wiping them out and removing them from power. It is up to their own people to keep them out.

Now, however, and this is a complete turnaround from where I used to be, we need to get the hell out of there. If they continue to harbor terrorists, and the will, we bomb them again, into oblivion if need be.

The United States needs to take care of itself, and its own people. I am not advocating isolationism, because there are wars that need fighting, but this is not one of them. Let's take the money we are spending over there and apply it to real national health care over here.

CareyCarey said...

Daddy, do you plan on reading Pat Tillman's book?

"Your Homeschool Connection" said...

I just wanted to let you know that I have developed a series of questions today about the situation in Afghanistan to promote discussion of current events.

I thought it appropriate to post these comment because of the similar topics: http://www.lessontech.blogspot.com

MacDaddy said...

Stella: Amazing. At least people are beginning to look more closely at our presence there.

Nun: I think I met your nephew at dinner over at the monastery. Here's hoping get home safely and in good health.

Madmike: I agree that the comparisons are not always "accurate" in the sense of being tit for tat. But there are enough parallels to help us to make some sense out of what we're doing.
And, yes, we need to look at how we and other nations can do to protect our interests in Pakistan and let Afghanistan go.