Perspective on Afghanistan

From the diaries by Erick . . .

Here I am in Afghanistan; although I “ain’t skeered”, I’m plenty apprehensive.  Not because of the Taliban, mind you – but because of what our own Democrat-controlled government, in concert with the media, may eventually do.  The last time we had such a war-time equation, Congress reneged on our promises to support an ally.  I predict the media will soon abandon its “good war” characterization of Operation Enduring Freedom across the board and step up the advocacy of Afghanistan abandonment.  As an active participant in OEF, I unfortunately must consider the Main Stream Media as much an enemy as the Taliban.  Remember, General Giap of North Viet Nam considered the anti war efforts of the US media more valuable strategically than his troops in the field.  With that in mind, my goal as a redstate member is to inform and educate the reader on this subject as a counterpoint to the MSM.  My meager efforts may not accomplish much in that regard, but at least I won’t stand idly by while the MSM outlets spread their disinformation and distortions.

I have been idle on redstate for several months now, for several reasons.  One of which was my focus on getting ready for deployment to theater and the bureaucratic hurdles to finally get my orders.  Another was my heavy workload in getting contracts awarded for my agency’s contribution to the Recovery Act.  Say what you will about the stimulus package, I’ll put our projects for lock and dam improvements under the Recovery Act up for scrutiny any day of the week.  But that’s a discussion for another day, I’m here to talk OEF tonight.  I last did this job in support of combat operations for 16 months of 05-06 in Iraq.  I wanted to come to Afghanistan after a short break, but it became too easy to put it off.  Now that my agency is doubling its efforts here, the guilt for procrastinating tipped the scales.

After being here a few days, there are some striking differences between my deployment to OEF versus OIF.  First of all, I’ve not had to sit out any mortar or rocket attacks yet (although I did pass by the huge patched hole in the road from the recent car bomb attack of the embassy).  The projects I’ll be working on will primarily address infrastructure for the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP), whereas the projects I addressed in Iraq were focused on reconstruction and creation of civilian infrastructure. 

My job is no longer to take the fight to the enemy with small arms and called fire (hasn’t been for some time now), but with a keyboard and paper.  I am what some would call a force-multiplier, and others would call a “fobbit”.  In any case, I have found a role in this war as robust as my age and physical condition will allow.  I invite the rest of you to do the same.

There is, as usual, a lot of talk and punditry concerning the wisdom of ‘nation building’ and our ‘imposition’ of democracy on other nations.  My opinion, fwiw, is that to defeat our enemies – freedom must flourish.  Or at least the conditions for freedom to flourish must exist.  In both OIF and OEF we have all but defeated Alqaida and the Taliban (only to take a step or two backward on occasion); now we must continue to enable the conditions for freedom to exist in Iraq and regain lost ground and lost opportunities in Afghanistan.  Democracy is not always the answer (witness the election of Hamas to power in Palestine), particularly if thugs are in the majority, but it can be the answer if properly applied.  When we defeated the Axis Powers, we stuck around to make sure that conditions for freedom flourished so as to keep Europe from Soviet domination, and give Japan the ability to prosper and become an ally.  When we stopped the communists from taking over the whole of the Korean Peninsula, we stuck around to enable South Korea to prosper and become an ally.  We need to do the same in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than implement the Viet Nam template.

We need to exercise patience and persistence to see this through.  I need your help in this regard.  Neither the current administration in Washington, nor Congress, possess the DNA for the job.  Rather than stand firm in the face of setbacks, they will fold.  In fact, I have no doubt that they look for just such an excuse to do so as I write this.  There will be setbacks, mistakes, and blunders by well intentioned commanders I also have no doubt.  War is ever thus.  It is our response and attitude towards these setbacks, mistakes, and blunders which will decide advance or retreat, victory or defeat.  I know what I want, but I also know what our domestic enemies want – and they happen to be calling the shots at the moment.