Thursday, October 08, 2009

Just Say No to McChrystal

President Barack Obama’s war council is meeting to consider Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s proposal to increase troop levels in Afghanistan by 10,000 to 40,000 troops. Nobody seems to be pondering why we have troops in Afghanistan at all.

President Obama has reportedly taken the option of withdrawing all our troops from Afghanistan off the table. Republican John McCain, who the Pentagon wishes had won the 2008 election, is shouting about the perils of taking “half measures” and wants Obama to give McChrystal everything he asks for. Blue Dog Democrat Ike Skelton has cautioned Obama against taking a “half-ass it and hope” approach.

The best measure, though, is to start backing out.

Our mission in Afghanistan supposedly has something to do with countering international terrorism, but the various flavors of Taliban and other militant groups in that country aren’t international terrorists; they’re just hooligans with guns who want us to leave. McChrystal confesses he sees no sign of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. National Security Adviser James Jones says al-Qaeda now has fewer than 100 fighters according to the “maximum estimate.”

The logic boils down to We have to escalate or Afghanistan will fall back under control of the Taliban and they’ll let 100 or fewer terrorists back in the country.

What unabashed piffle. Our lessons from the last eight years of woebegone war should have taught us a number of things:

Military force is the worst possible means of combating terrorism. As the analysts at the globally respected Rand Corporation stated in 2008, the best way to proceed in our so-called “war” on terror is with “a light U.S. military footprint or none at all.”

There is no such thing as a “successful” counterinsurgency campaign. More than two and a half years into the Iraq surge, Iraq’s government and security forces are corrupt and incompetent, and there’s not a glimpse of a solution on the horizon.

The worst mistake we made in Iraq was to go into the enterprise with the goal of decapitating its political leadership. Saddam Hussein was nobody’s idea of a new-deal Democrat, but he didn’t need a field manual to figure out how to run his country. By invading Iraq and deposing Hussein, we let a herd of cats out of the corral and we’ll never figure out how to re-combobulate the situation.

I grew weary of the no-fly zone and maritime embargo operations over Iraq that spanned the decade and change between Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom (I did three tours of that abject nonsense), but they beat the bloody snot out of the Iraqi squirrel cage we’re tangled in now. We’d have been far, far better off to let Hussein, who we now know was a toothless tyrant when we invaded, stay in power. It’s too late to give Iraq back to Hussein, but it’s not too late to give Afghanistan back to Mohammed Omar and his Taliban.

We are hopefully discovering what conquerors throughout history have known. The best way to occupy a country is to not occupy it. Leave the local burgomasters in charge and keep a low-profile praetorian governor around to collect tribute on schedule.

We have managed to discard the history of war and reverse that process. We traipse into a country, kick out the folks who know how to run things, insert puppets, and rather than collect tribute we throw reams of money at everybody so they won’t shoot us or our anointed stooges. (That’s how “Teflon General” David Petraeus created the illusion of a “successful” surge in Iraq.)

The best way for us to not have foreigners shoot us is to not put our soldiers in their country. The best way to keep foreigners from coming over here to shoot us is to keep pressure on our Homeland Security structure to do its job. 9/11 never would have happened if our alphabet soup agencies—FBI, CIA, NSA, JFCOMM, FAA, NORAD, etc.—hadn’t passed out facedown on the stove. Things are different now: nobody wants to be identified as the circle smirk who allowed another 9/11 to happen on their watch.

It’s time to bring our troops home. They’re not doing any good. That’s not their fault. At the tactical level, the level at which combat occurs, they’re unbelievably competent. But strategically, use of military force by global hegemon America has become a losing proposition.

We need to let the Afghanistan conflict blow itself calm at the nearest opportunity. We can best do that by fading away and letting the natural political forces that exist in that part of the world duke things out among themselves.

We don’t need to send any more kids over there to get killed or have their legs blown off, or to take part in the slaughter of innocents that they’ll experience trauma about for the rest of their lives.

We need to shut down this madness now.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. rise to global dominance, is on sale now.

15 comments:

  1. And that is all that needs to be said.

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  2. http://rethinkafghanistan.com/

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  3. Anonymous11:07 PM

    The Afghan insurgents "aren’t international terrorists;" Absolutely correct!!

    "they’re just hooligans with guns who want us to leave."

    Wrong and calling them hooligans is as strategically inept and wrong as putting Ho Chi Minh off because he was trained in Moscow.

    The Afghan 'hooligans' have been acting up to outsiders for 2400 years and that deserve a better accolade than 'hooligan'.

    What would it take to not be "half assed" in Afghanistan is to be as whole assed as the Naxi Gestapo in the Balkans with 100 times the fire power.

    Ike Skelton is a perpetual war dem.

    Maybe he can appropriate money for a Gestapo to take on the 'hooligans'.

    Worse the generals need to be hanged for the tactical placement at Camp Keating, who can defend a valley?

    Especially anyone who watched Gary Cooper in "Lives of a Bengal Lancer".

    Fire Mc Chrystal!!

    And every officer above the grade of Major in the US military.

    Loggie20

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  4. A sane, rational commentary on the situation - too bad the people in charge are anything but sane and rational. And it's doubtful that the welfare of America's young people in uniform is near the top of their priority list. If I thought that the troops were actually in Afghanistan to “fight terrorism” then I might entertain hope that a pullout ala Vietnam is a possibility. But I still think that there is more there than meets the eye.

    In the wake of the Robert Fisk article about China and the Saudis ditching the dollar for a basket of currencies (which is still roiling the markets even as I type) there has been a ton of commentary about the future of the dollar, and by extension, America's future. I haven't, however, seen much in the way of comment about the last line in Fisk's article, which reads thus:

    Iran announced late last month that its foreign currency reserves would henceforth be held in euros rather than dollars. Bankers remember, of course, what happened to the last Middle East oil producer to sell its oil in euros rather than dollars. A few months after Saddam Hussein trumpeted his decision, the Americans and British invaded Iraq.

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  5. JP WHITE

    http://realityzone-realityzone.blogspot.com/2009/10/dollar-exit-for-oil-trade.html

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  6. Not surprised I didn't see that, as I quit reading Engdahl when he endorsed "abiotic oil," and the idea that peak oil is a myth. (Like a good reality-denying economist is supposed to). A good summary of the dollar/oil thing, though. He didn't actually venture an opinion as to whether the U.S. will pull the trigger. I think that is the question of the hour. As another blogger I like once put it, "...somehow all of us, the other countries and the other Americas, need to persuade Bush's [now Obama's] America to put the gun down."

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  7. JP; i am in full agreement with you on peak oil. cheney and his [secret] energy planners knew peak oil was coming. hence, one of the reasons for the attack on iraq. the other reason was sadam was going to the euro. it was the classic action of [the confessions of an economic hit man] book. written by perkins. this oil dollar trade deal has been around for a long time. along with the greenback no longer being the worlds reserve currency. the imf sdr's aqre becoming a real possibility with in that basket of currencies. the greenback will now be looking through the rear view mirror. bretton woods is no more. lol

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  8. Another great discussion, gang. Thanks.

    J

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  9. I read all news which one belong to President obama and i always agree with his rules and rights but on this matter i never understand what he want..

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  10. Anonymous5:46 PM

    History is always a useful guide.
    Except at harvest time, when self-preservation enjoins a temporary truce, the Pathan tribes are always engaged in private or public war. Every man is a warrior, a politician, and a theologian. Every large house is a real feudal fortress made, it is true, only of sunbaked clay, but with battlements, turrets, loopholes, flanking towers, drawbridges, etc., complete. Every village has its defense. Every family cultivates its vendetta; every clan, its feud. The numerous tribes and combination of tribes all have their accounts to settle with one another. Nothing is ever forgotten and very few debts are left unpaid… The life of the Pathan is thus full of interest…

    Into this happy world the nineteenth century brought two new facts; the breech-loading rifle and the British Government. The first was an enormous luxury and blessing; the second, an unmitigated nuisance. The convenience of the breech-loading, and still more of the magazine, rifle was nowhere more appreciated than in the Indian highlands. A weapon which could kill with accuracy at fifteen hundred yards opened a whole new vista of delights to every family or clan which could acquire it. One could actually remain in one's own house and fire at one's neighbor nearly a mile away. - Winston Churchill
    Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan would agree they fight among themselves until an invader comes then they fight the invader for sheer pleasure of change.

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  11. Jeff, This article has some incredibly articulate verbalization. You can see I'm not such a great writer but this excerpt is something I'm saving and hopefully memorizing.

    You are a definitely a thought leader.

    Jeff, I would beg you to run for political office, US Representative for example. However I think actually winning such an office would have a deleterious effect on your quantity and quality of essays. Just look what happened to Obama.


    "The best way for us to not have foreigners shoot us is to not put our soldiers in their country. The best way to keep foreigners from coming over here to shoot us is to keep pressure on our Homeland Security structure to do its job. 9/11 never would have happened if our alphabet soup agencies—FBI, CIA, NSA, JFCOMM, FAA, NORAD, etc.—hadn’t passed out facedown on the stove. Things are different now: nobody wants to be identified as the circle smirk who allowed another 9/11 to happen on their watch.

    It’s time to bring our troops home. They’re not doing any good. That’s not their fault. At the tactical level, the level at which combat occurs, they’re unbelievably competent. But strategically, use of military force by global hegemon America has become a losing proposition. "

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  12. My theory as to another in the list of real motivations of our secretive government for trying to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to the aforementioned currency and oil motivations, is to take that chess square so that Russia et al cannot.

    Consider the Soviet Afghanistan invasion of 1979 and the following occupation.

    To answer the question Why does USA occupy Afghanistan...

    We can begin to understand, by asking Why did USSR occupy Afghanistan.

    And I will submit an answer for your consideration:

    Why did the chicken (USSR) cross the road (Afghanistan)?

    To get to the other side (major oil fields of Iraq,etc).

    Control of this square is deemed of exceedingly high strategic value by the occupation's perpetrators.

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