Senin, 05 Desember 2011

Cut And Walk

Ten years ago the Coalition of the Willing initiated Operation Enduring Freedom against the Taliban in Afghanistan in revenge for harboring Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al-Quada. The Northern Alliance backed by NATO air strikes easily routed their fundamentalist foes, but the defeat partially came, because the war-ravaged country was on the verge of a winter of famine. The Taliban took to the hills. Al-Quada went into hiding. Osama Bin Laden fled to Pakistan where he lived under the aegis of the ISI, the Pakistan Internal Security Forces.George W Bush, his neo-con staff, and the Pentagon congratulated their success. Democracy was the next step in the plan, however the initial optimism met with on-the-ground reality. Afghanistan was a country often occupied, but rarely conquered by invaders as the Russians learned through their misadventure south of the Oxus River during the 1980s. The Taliban resumed combat in 2003 and the majority of their attacks were aimed of the local populace, despite Islamic leaders condemning such actions. GW Bush's Pentagon sought to fight this war on the cheap, since the Big One was in Iraq. The costs of this miscalculation was paid with the lives of ISAF troops and Afghani civilians. A new president was trapped into continuing the war albeit at an upscale tempo. A troop surge pushed back on the Taliban and the cost of war increased 50%. At his point the USA has spent nearly a trillion dollars with a loss of 14,000 allied lives versus some 39,000 Taliban fighters. No one has an accurate body count on the civilian dead.President Obama was promised to withdraw combat troops by 2014, but this month an errant air attack on a Pakistani position has led to the closure of two supply routes to Afghanistan. North of the Oxus a former Soviet satellite has called for the removal of all NATO forces as soon as possible. These two setbacks leave airlifts as the only method to supply the 130,000 soldiers of the ISAF.Only three words come to mind; Dien Bien Phu, the massive defeat for the French Forces in Indochina.Maybe I'm just a little pessimistic, because the British commander in Afghanistan expressed a different opinion to the Guardian."Having made this investment in blood, I am more determined. If I didn't think we could do this I would take a very different view but I am confident we can do it.""Let's mark [his] work. If he was serious about overthrowing the government and grabbing a portion of Afghanistan for his own, you have to do three things. You have to secure your own heartland in Kandahar and central Helmand. Is he doing that? No. They lost their safe havens around Kandahar in 2010 and they didn't take them back in 2011. They are not holding their own heartland.""Secondly, you have to spread your influence around other areas. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere in Afghanistan that they are doing that. Thirdly, you have got to affect the seat of government. There have been lots of headlines, but Kabul has about 20% of the population and less than 1% of total violence in the country. Not only is the seat of government unaffected, but Kabul is a flourishing capital city that is much safer than Karachi."That last statement echoed the statement of a GOP congressman who said in 2007, "Returning troops have indicated to me that 80 to 85 percent, in a conservative fashion, of (Iraq) is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cities. That's an encouraging sign."I've been to Detroit and Chicago. None of them had car bombs exploding in the streets, except on Hell Night in Detroit, when anything goes.British generals tend to study history. This commander has chosen to ignore 1842. The British forces in Afghanistan were wiped out on their retreat from Kabul.I say cut and walk is always better than cut and run, especially when there is nowhere to run.Bring the troops home for Xmas along with a lot of hashish.

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