There Is No Military Solution

[image via Pat Dollard]

There are so many troubling aspects to this story that picking the right place to start is terribly difficult. On the one hand, having to confront the very real possibility that the Obama Administration is now prepared to negotiate with the Taliban (and it’s of little consequence whether there will be direct or indirect talks), Americans are being asked to let go years of policy that has insisted we never negotiate with terrorists.

On the other hand, the Afghan people have a fairly long history of waiting out their aggressors. Hiding in caves we can’t find and popping out every so often to set off a bomb or pull the cord on a suicide vest has been a proven strategy for success. Our chances of winning this thing at all now, let alone doing so on an arbitrary timetable more conducive to garnering votes than establishing sound military strategy, are proving to be all but impossible. And the Administration is now admitting as much [emphasis mine]:

“There is a change of mindset in DC,” a senior official in Washington said. “There is no military solution. That means you have to find something else. There was something missing.” The missing element is talks with the Taliban leadership, the official added.

The US rethink comes in the aftermath of the departure in June of General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan Barack Obama, apparently frustrated at the way the war is going, reminded his national security advisers that while he was on the election campaign trail in 2008, he had advocated talking to America’s enemies.

I am long on record as having been in favor of invading Afghanistan and taking the Taliban down from it’s control of the country. I have also continued pushing the Administration – Bush’s AND Obama’s – to fight to WIN, not just look for an impasse that pacifies the anti-war nuts and the Congress that feeds them. I’m in the minority now, and have to deal with that on my own. But, once Obama took over and deliberated through hundreds of unnecessary American casualties to finally GET to his Afghanistan strategy, what some of us prayed for…and all the Soldiers fighting there demanded from their chain of command…appears to be getting cast aside in favor of political expedience.

He “appears” to be holding firm to his 2011 timetable, this despite growing concerns cited in the BBC article as to whether Karzai can even handle the Taliban once the US and NATO forces are gone. Apparently, however, the progress on our effort to put down (and keep down) the Taliban by Obama’s timetable no longer seems to matter to him. Forgive me if I suggest this is because he’s going to need every one of the votes our surrender and withdrawal will send his way.

Especially troubling (and getting no press) is this passage:

A US review of Afghanistan policy is under way, and is due for completion in December, but officials in Washington, Kabul and Islamabad with knowledge of internal discussions said feelers have already been put out. Negotiations would be conducted largely in secret, through a web of contacts, involving governments such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, or organisations with back-channel links to the Taliban.

“It will be messy and could take years,” said a diplomatic source.

“A US review of Afghanistan policy is under way, and is due for completion in December.” Really? Another one? How many times does this President need to review his own policy? I’m almost speechless…almost. This is, I believe, his third review. Of course, with all those tee times, no wonder he has to keep re-looking at this issue; until the approval polls go up, or Congress holds its Liberal Majority in both Houses, Obama is going to have no choice but to waffle and wane and keep shopping around for a strategy he can get re-elected with. And Soldiers will continue to die, and the Afghanistan people will continue to suffer in Obama’s tug of war with the Taliban.

My pessimism only grows with each passing strategy review; I’m old enough to remember the Paris Peace Accords and I’m well aware that we sat back and watched as the North overran the South once they were sure our Democrat-controlled Congress wasn’t going to lift a finger (or spend another dime) to help the South defend itself. The Paris accord, and the general cease fire it was designed to establish, were ignored with impunity and the country we spent 50,000 lives trying to protect was completely destroyed in fairly short order.

Yes, I know…Afghanistan is not Vietnam, and I’m not suggesting it is. I am, however, suggesting that our long and storied past of not learning from history might just come back to haunt us once again. A hasty exit from Afghanistan, coupled with an inspired insurgency just biding their time and building their stockpiles of arms, sounds eerily familiar. Consider this, from Rupee News:

Bharat (aka India) is pushing for the partition of Afghanistan, so that in a post-US Afghanistan, it can use its proxies to fight the Pakhtuns in Afghanistan and continue to destabilize Pakistan. Bharat’s aim to create a Pakhtun state in Afghanistan that would then push for a united Pakhtunistan.

The US has also toyed with the same idea, but it wil take too much effort to create countries in the area and it would surely not be liked by any of the neighbors. The world is sick and tired of solutions like the ones proposed for Iraq. The US just wants to get out, and will probably allow the chips to fall where they may.

The upcoming civil war in Afghanistan will be a bloody one, with Bharat fully supporting the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, and Pakistan behind the Pakhtuns. Iran has promised to back Pakistan and the Pan-Afghan solution. Russia is playing neutral, because a Tajik and Uzbek instrability would create problems for Tajiksitan and Uzbekistan. Bharat has stashed arms for the post-US scenario, and the Pakhtuns and the Pakistanis know this. Continued supply lines to the Northern Alliance will be difficult to maintain for Delhi, but it will surely try. All Tajiks and Uzbeks cannot be counted upon to back Abdullah Abdullah’s aspirations for a partitioned Afghanistan. The Afghan National Resistance has tentacles right up to the Uzbek border, and they claim Uzbeks and Tajiks as part of their coalition. Warlords like Dostum may chart an independent course and may not support Bharati proxies in Afghanistan.

This suggests to me, at least, that everyone is just calmly waiting us out over there…waiting until our backs are no longer visible on the horizon…so that the Taliban can just come back in and pick up where they left off. AND, they’ll be staring down the barrels of a new war… a civil war with surrounding factions all looking to settle a few scores amongst themselves and a long list of Afghanistan’s neighbors.

I’m no Foreign diplomacy expert but I can’t find any upside to staying in Afghanistan given the complete lack of will on the part of a Congress already at risk of losing its majority. And I can’t see how the Afghan people are going to benefit whether we stay or whether we go, since all indications are that there will be just a new war with new faces and new enemies that will commence in earnest once we’re gone. I still want to see our Soldiers get the support they need, and be given the clear objective to fight and win a war. If they can’t have that, then they need to come home safely and without further injury or death.

Hell, at this point we should just let the Politicians clean up the mess they’ve made of a war that was once just but has since been abandoned as an inconvenience. These days our Political heroes have bigger fish to fry and they’re looking for dollars to spend to appease potential voters.

Let them do it…at least we won’t lose any more Soldiers.

[Note: This post originates at 73Wire]