a Someone should care, maybe not you....: At long last. .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Someone should care, maybe not you....

My thoughts on many things including the army, war, politics, the military corrections system, chaos, life, books, movies, and why there is no blue food. Feel free to comment on what I say. Feedback is nice.

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

19 September 2008

At long last.

I am finally getting around to responding to the article that Opit referred me too. Before you read this you should go HERE and read the article in question.

As Opit expected, I have some issues with the stands taken by the author. One of these is his claim that “mounting bombing raids and widespread detentions” are turning Afghanistan into a mirror of Iraq. What is moving the Afghanistan situation towards old Iraq situation is the fact that the Taliban are not idiots. The watched what was happening in Iraq, saw how segments of the American public, press, and government responded to it and promptly began emulating the Iraq insurgents. The Taliban spokesmen have flat out said they don’t need to beat the US on the battlefield, thy only need to make it ugly enough that we go away.
Mr. Hedges (the author for those of you to lazy to go read the article) is correct though in stating that many of the issues in Afghanistan are being ignored, or at least not clearly addressed, while all of our various presidential candidates natter about in generalities and catch phrases.

I do take serious issue with the author’s claim that we are using “indiscriminate” air strikes in Afghanistan. These strikes are far from indiscriminate. I know for a fact that a great deal of planning, organizing, second guessing and general all around nit picking and ass covering goes on when operations are planned. I floated around the periphery of a few of these while I was over there. I personally knew of several operations that were canceled, despite good intelligence that a HVT was or would be in an area were not carried out because there was too great a chance of significant civilian casualties. Now the one example he cites is a bit different. It was a hot pursuit raid. Troops had been ambushed and civilians died in an air raid on the ambushers. Unfortunately this happens and will continue to happen as long as the Taliban continue to hide among the civilian populations. People here don’t seem to realize that to the Taliban civilian casualties are not problems. They are benefits. The more civilians die the more bad press and pressure the Americans and the Afghan government come under. Even when I was there several years ago this was clearly obvious to anyone who cared to look at the situation. As a minor example I will present the arrest of a HIG commander in Kabul. This arrest luckily did not result in the death of children but it easily could have. The man had his Ak-47 and 3 hand grenades stashed in the crib of his infant girl. Had he had time resist the arrest and put up a fight it would have been in her bedroom. There are other, more extreme examples (after all, this guy didn’t put up a fight), Taliban arms caches hidden in the walls of schools, ambushers fleeing into compounds in the area while pursued. This is probably what happened in the case cited by Mr. Hedges. Now in some cases that I know of bombs weren’t dropped. The Spec operation team that had been ambushed trying to surround the compound fast enough to keep the guys from escaping and then raiding it the next day to arrest the attackers. But how do you separate the attackers from the innocent farmers? Answer: you can’t. So you then have to arrest pretty much everyone in the compound and hope the guys you wanted didn’t get out the back before your 12 man team could get around to observe the back side. So you are left with the choice of bombing a compound and (maybe) killing some innocents with the attackers (if the attackers don’t get out before the planes arrived or if they had shelters to use to survive and left the women and children above ground to die), or arresting everyone and holding them until you can figure out who is bad and who isn’t, or shrugging your shoulders and going away to let them attack you again the next week. Does anyone see a good choice there?

The author points out that the UN reports that 255 of the almost 700 civilian deaths in Afghanistan were caused by Afghan and/or International forces. That is substantially less than half. So who is targeting the civilians? It isn’t us.

He is correct when he points out that the situation in Afghanistan is worsening. American soldiers in Afghanistan are dying there at a faster rate than they are in Iraq now. This of course has less to do with the upsurge of violence in Afghanistan than with the precipitous decline of violence in Iraq.

The whole last part of Mr. Hedges article makes his overall position clear. He thinks we should pull out. He doesn’t actually say it but the last nine paragraphs of his work here make it real clear. But even here I take some issue with his points. He asks in anyone knows history in Afghanistan, citing the Soviet Invasion and the British in the 18th century. Well, we are not trying to do what the Soviets did nor are we using the tactics that the Soviets used. As for the British, well yes, they got creamed when they went into Afghanistan the first time. Note that first, they went back later, defeated the tribal leaders and were instrumental in setting up a government that lasted until the Soviets invaded. (Vast oversimplification here on my part but on his part too so we are even)

I have to wonder what men like him think would be accomplished by us pulling out of Afghanistan. Does he like the idea of Afghanistan falling back into the hell it was in for 25 years before the war? Because that is what will happen. The Taliban would try to take over the country again, the anti Taliban forces would oppose them, various neighbors would pick the side they like and support them. Massacre, death, mayhem and total destruction would result. But since Mr. Hedges in his other writings supports international military intervention to oppose genocide and ethnic cleansing (Bosnia and Kosovo for example) maybe after the death cycle has rolled back to total chaos he would support an intervention to stop it there. But I doubt it.

I would like to point out that the major difference between intervention in Bosnia and Afghanistan is that the US had a better justification for going into Afghanistan under the historical precedents of International law. The Taliban government in Afghanistan was, after all, supporting and sheltering the group that had attacked us. The big difference between the two in the end game is that the Bosnian Serbs, unlike the Taliban, quit fighting. The same is true in Kosovo.

We have a tremendous chance to screw everything up in Afghanistan. And to be quite frank, I am afraid we will because as soon as we get out of Iraq the professional anti- us forces here will start agitating to get out of Afghanistan too. In fact, as can be seen by this article they already have. If whoever we elect as President gives in to them, all we need to do is look back at the 80’s and 90’s in Afghanistan to see what the result will be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the Pakistan angle? How successful can any anti-guerrilla campaign be if the guerrillas have a secure base from which to operate?

It's not odd that the Pakistani complain about US incursions into their country, but it is odd that they complain while those same groups are simultaneously attacking Pakistan.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous opit said...

Anonymous' note brings up the crux of the matter.
This is not a local condition any more. When you have an intractable problem which is admittedly being dealt with by violence and escalation of same, you continually risk getting into a situation that you are causing so much shit that you are a greater problem than the local variety of trouble. That locals can reach and might have a hope of affecting. How do you deal with people playing political games on the other side of the world with your lives and property ?
The soldiers available will naturally be speakers of another language, believers of a different faith, and holders of different values and loyalties. If common cause can be attained despite these differences - it can't just a matter of bribery.
Listening helps too. I don't uncover much evidence of that.
You want people to be positive ? Somebody needs to show that they know WTF they are doing. Next that it is worth killing strangers in their homes for.
As for our crew, our participation has not been discussed and approved in Parliament after years of deployment. Don't tell me something doesn't reek.
There is an alternate explanation involving power politics and corporate greed mixed up with control of strategic materials . International conglomerates have the field of power to themselves : I don't expect the results to be pretty and likely much worse domestically than many will be able or willing to understand or concede.
Military intel is vital : but it doesn't necessarily cover the whole scenario. Intel has, in fact, been perverted as a method of getting people to believe aggression is a good idea.
I know who you trust.
I know whom I don't. The people are the last check on murderers and rogues : who are much in evidence.
This is not fair payment for your effort. You have been warned.
War is a hellish scam. I think Maj.Gen. Smedley-Butler knew a thing or two.
Last crack. Have you seen unequivocal Congressional approval for the many scenes of violence perpetrated around the world ? It's often 'Secret' from the supposed oversight !

6:28 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

Pakistan is the elephant in the room in the Afghanistan discussion. I am not at all sure though what can be done about it. We certainly (I hope) don't want to go to war there and that is what will happen if we start launching a bunch of big raids across the border.
The situation with the Pak govt. isn't really all that strange. It is okay for them to fight whoever in their country, but it is certainly NOT okay for us to attack them in Pak. Way too much nationalism going on there. Which is weird considering the tribal territories are only marginally part of any particular nation.

Opit- I trust me. What I know and what I learn form my own studies. I generally decline to fall into the whole "THEY are out to get us" scenario.

8:04 PM  
Blogger opit said...

'They' ? Read up on Bush family history. Nelson Rockefeller's bio is a beaut too.

8:22 PM  
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6:43 AM  

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