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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