Getting a grip on the nation-building delusion and the real sponsors of terror.
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Second on Galula’s list is political support “with pressure applied directly on the counterinsurgent, or indirectly by diplomatic action in the international forum.” The Kabul government is not quite and international pariah, but American politicians may soon make it so. From Iran and Pakistan comes direct pressure on Karzai that accomplishes its isolation.
Third is technical support, fourth is financial, fifth is military support. All three come directly to the Taliban from Iran and elements of the Pakistani government. Financial help is even more prevalent.
The April ISAF report says, in part, that the Afghan insurgency “…has a robust means of sustaining operations.” It mentions the availability of weapons and the fact that the Taliban has “consistent streams of money to sufficiently fund operations.” The money comes in part from the opiate trade and, “Externally, funding originates in Islamic states and is delivered via couriers and halawas,” an Islamic informal banking system.
That report also says, “Most concerning, Iran continues to provide lethal assistance to elements of the Taliban, although the quantity and quality of such assistance is markedly lower than the assistance provided to Shia militants in Iraq. Tehran’s support to the Taliban is inconsistent with their historic enmity, but fits with its overall strategy of backing many groups to ensure a positive relationship with potential leaders and hedging against foreign presence.”
How can the counterinsurgency succeed unless these sources of outside support are cut off? It can’t.
Most telling, Galula wrote, “The cruelty of the revolutionary [i.e., insurgent] war is not a mass, anonymous cruelty but a highly personalized, individual one. No greater crime can be committed by the counterinsurgent than accepting or resigning himself to, the protraction of war. He would do as well to give up early.” We have been nation-building in Iraq for six years and in Afghanistan for nine. It’s too late to give up early, but not too late to be defeated.
The Pentagon report says, “Insurgents’ tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting complex attacks are increasing in sophistication and strategic effect.” The strategic effect is enormous: it prevents achievement of the first goal of any counterinsurgency campaign — establishing security for the populace — by hampering our operations from those bases. No counterinsurgency can succeed without establishing local security. In that, the Afghanistan campaign has already failed.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the Taliban are conducting a targeted assassination program, killing people — even whole families — who cooperate with American and Afghan government forces.
In Iraq and in Afghanistan we haven’t been fighting the enemy: we’ve been fighting his proxies, bogged down on the battlefields the enemy has chosen, allowing them to control the pace and direction of the war.
If you were to choose an ideal country for an insurgency, Afghanistan would be at the top of the list.
There, are ideal for the insurgent: an ethnically diverse population loyal only to tribes and sects, highly dispersed, with no loyalty to or confidence in the central government; a highly-motivated insurgency which is actively supported with funding, arms and training by Iran and other terror-sponsoring nations; a weak economy; and a prolonged inability of the central government to provide security or basic services. All this adds up to a metaphysical impossibility for Obama’s fourteen-month Afghanistan counter-insurgency to succeed.
It will have taken a decade, from September 1, 2001 to September 1, 2011 for the curtain to come down on the neocons’ malignant nation-building idea. Counting Vietnam, Afghanistan will mark the third time America has been defeated as much by itself as by an insurgency.
If we had a different president, this defeat could be avoided. But Barack Obama will not do any of the things we need to do, quickly and decisively.
This war can still be won, but not with soft words for Islam or the waste of more American lives in nation-building. This is hard saying, but it needs to be said.
We need to pull our ground forces out of both Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as the logistics can be managed. And when we do, we need to tell the world that the game has changed.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online