The perfect squirm - Afghanistan is now all about reputations

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  1. Doc91678

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    By Ralph Peters
    January 20, 2013

    Going to Afghanistan after 9/11 was a necessity; staying there in force was a mistake — and dragging out our failure is a travesty.

    We invaded to smash al Qaeda and punish the Taliban for hosting them. Mission accomplished. Within six months. The correct military action would have been to remove our conventional-force presence while the jihadi bodies were still warm.

    Instead, ideologues safe at home declared that we had to nation-build where there was no nation. Or “we’d have to go back.”

    Going back would have been an eff of a lot cheaper.

    And while we tied our forces down to worthless Afghan real estate, al Qaeda just went elsewhere. (Rule No. 1: When fighting a mobile enemy, stay mobile.)

    Then we politicized our commitment. Hating George W. Bush with the bigotry only a simpering faculty can muster, American liberals damned the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. No matter that, had Bill Clinton done the deed, they’d have heralded him as the greatest liberator since Abraham Lincoln.

    But impending elections required the left to play up national security. So the fool’s errand in Afghanistan — turning savages into apprentice Americans — became their “good war” by default.

    Running for office, Barack Obama promised to “fix Afghanistan” after Bush’s “neglect.” Elected, Obama found himself trapped in a commitment that looked like a loser, but one he had to appear to honor. So we got a surge that was on the meter before it began.

    As military strategy, it was nuts. Politically, it split the difference brilliantly.

    And our troops continued to be killed and maimed (1,793 killed in action and almost 18,000 wounded in action to date) for a mission the new president didn’t believe in.

    Ironically, his surge was backed by an unholy clot of conservative think-tank wonks...

    The New York Times ate it up.

    The make-nice doctrine denied that Islam played any role in Islamist terrorism (which didn’t exist, anyway). The keys to success would be massive aid and “respect for Afghan culture” (presumably, the abuse of women, rampant corruption and cruelty). We imposed suicidal rules of engagement on our troops in the field — as if they were the threat. And we failed: Afghans still refuse to want what we think they should want.

    But careerist generals played along, blaming our troops when anything went wrong. Think-tank Napoleons declared that their theories hadn’t been given sufficient time and resources. The fawning journalists wrote books explaining why the generals who did the most damage were geniuses. And embarrassed politicians won’t cut their losses but demand to “stay the course.”

    And the troops? Who carried out a cynical, hopeless policy in good faith? When they get home, they can get in line for food stamps.


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