Strategic stupidity in Afghanistan

I ask myself, what the real motive of our military adventure in Afghanistan could be, because nothing in the wretched history of U.S. (“Western”) military intervention, nor centuries of Afghan history, nor observation, much less common sense gives any support to these claims of impending “victory”:

Australian Defence Force Joint Operations Command head Lieutenant General Ash Power said the mission was degrading the insurgency to the point where Afghan forces could deal with it.Despite insurgent attacks and assassinations of close allies of the President, Hamid Karzai, the coalition generals were optimistic, he said. “The population centres are around the ring road, and the ring road is almost complete so you’re linking neighbours with each other,” General Power said.As the “security bubbles” around population centres grew, the insurgency was pushed out.

Extract from Taliban will be defeated, insist Australian generals | The Australian

Does ADFA teach generals any history? Vietnam, for example? Nicaragua? Afghanistan is a classic “war of the flea.” Repeatedly, history assures us that the Islamist and nationalist power behind the “insurgency” will not be defeated by any security cordon or economic bubble erected by the invading military. Not ever. Do they really not get that? Even as the “insurgents” loose territory, they win. Have our generals already forgotten the 1968 “Tet offensive”?

When even the U.S. leadership concedes that the only end to this insane and wasteful adventure is a political settlement, it beggars credulity that our military leadership still thinks of some kind of geographic fortress or “bubble” of prosperity (for how long after the U.S. and Nato leave?) represents success.

The financial and human costs of this pointless, and un-winnable invasion of Afghanistan are staggering. The United States is spending at least $2billion per week on fighting the “insurgency”. Estimates of the fully-loaded costs of Australia’s commitment are difficult to compile but an RMIT project puts them at almost $A400 million per week (which might explain why our generals are so keen to hang onto the expedition)! On top of which we must add, of course, the human cost of thirty young Australian soldiers killed for no lasting benefit to Afghanistan or to their country.

What have we achieved in return? We have cooperated with the United States and NATO in the infliction of disruption, destruction and death on one of the world’s poorest countries, and in prolonging an anachronistic and vitiating appearance of enmity between Islam and the West.

But we have achieved nothing. This year, the violence has been higher than ever; the destruction greater and the political settlement no further advanced. According to the mid-2011 report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

UNAMA documented 1,462 civilian deaths in the first six months of 2011, an increase of 15 percent over the same period in 2010. The main trends that led to rising civilian casualties in early 2011 were increased and widespread use of improvised explosive devices, more complex suicide attacks, an intensified campaign of targeted killings, increased ground fighting, and a rise in civilian deaths from air strikes, particularly by Apache helicopters.

The list of Taliban attacks so far in 2011(from Wikipedia) shows the inanity of the General’s “optimism”:

  1. On January 29, the deputy governor of Kandahar was killed in a suicide attack. Three months later, on April 15 the Kandahar chief police, General Khan Mohammed Mujahid was killed.
  2. On May 28, Taliban assassinated one of their main opponents, Mohammed Daud Daud, in a bomb attack. Six others were alsokilled. He was the chief of the police for the northern of Afghanistan.
  3. On July 12, the president’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, the leader of the Kandahar province, was killed by his own bodyguard.
  4. On July 18, President Karzai’s advisor, Jan Mohammad Khan, was assassinated in Kabul by the Taliban in an attack that also killed an Afghan deputy.
  5. The United Nations estimated that for the first half of 2011, the civilian deaths rose by 15% and reached 1462, which is the worst death toll since the beginning of the war and despite the surge of foreign troops.
  6. As of July 22, 325 coalition fighters were killed, more than 55% of the deaths caused by IED’s.
  7. As of July 18, coalition forces started their plan of transition by handing power of several areas to the Afghan authority following their plan of future pull out of the country. A Taliban militant who had infiltrated the Afghan police force killed seven other policemen in Lashkar Gah. The same day the police chief of Registaan district and three other policemen were killed in bomb attacks.
  8. On July 27, the mayor of Kandahar, Ghulam Haidar Hameedi, was killed in a suicide attack.
  9. On July 28, suicide bombers and snipers attacked the police headquarter of Tarin Qowt in a large scale attack which killed more than 21 people including a reporter.
  10. On July 31, 10 Afghan policemen were killed in a suicide attack in Lashkar Gah where Afghan security forces had taken over from NATO a week before. The same day, 10 Afghan guards who were protecting a NATO supplies convoy were killed in the attack. . One day before, 5 Afghans soldiers and 2 NATO soldiers were killed in a bomb attack on their patrol.
  11. On August 6, 31 American Special Forces soldiers were killed in the crash of their helicopter probably shot down during a fight with the Taliban. Seven Afghan soldiers were also killed. This was the biggest death toll for NATO troops in the whole war.
  12. On August 6, 4 NATO soldiers were killed, including two French Foreign Legion members, and 5 others were wounded.

One Comment

  • I agree completely with pwg. Unfortunately, the people who really ‘call the shots’ in the US are not so much the visible politicos but rather, the invisible Generals and CEO’s of the military industrial complex. They have little interest in leaving Afghanistan any time soon (for obvious reasons). A few more years, I’m afraid, and the US will suffer the consequences – actually, that’s already apparent!

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