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Thread: Is It Time to Get Out of Afghanistan?

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    Council Member Cannoneer No. 4's Avatar
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    Default Is It Time to Get Out of Afghanistan?

    by John Hinderaker @ Power Line

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archive.../04/028748.php

    Who in the American domestic target audience still believes that Afghanistan and Afghans are worth it?

    Who is supposed to be strategically communicating to the American voter what we're trying to do there, how well we're doing it, and why?

    In 2005 Newsweak invented a story about Koran desecration at Gitmo. Seventeen Afghans died rioting. It is painfully obvious that we learned nothing from that. Why did we learn nothing?

    Many questions. The only answer I have is that is indeed time to drastically reduce our headcount while at the same time dramatically increasing the Taliban's bodycount.

    And for God's sake do not evacuate the Kabul Embassy via helicopters on the roof.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannoneer No. 4 View Post
    by John Hinderaker @ Power Line

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archive.../04/028748.php

    Who in the American domestic target audience still believes that Afghanistan and Afghans are worth it?
    My understanding was that the worth of the Afghans was tangential to the worth of eliminating a threat that inflicted massive damage on American soil. Also had the notion that America--within the universe of measures she's willing to use in war--had few if any better options than to gently pacify the base population of jihadists in order to deny them the territory, bases, supply and points of entry and departure needed to strike internationally. Specifically, I was under the impression that ultimately required putting up with the natives as they attempt to stand up a reasonably seaworthy government and army.

    What's changed?
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    The simple answer is yes...what we are doing now is totally disconnected from what we went in there to (and did) do in 2001.

    Regardless of the porice paid in blood and treasure to date, Afghanistan will never be any more a functional nation in the sense that we understand the concept than will Libya if the socalled rebels there get to takeover...

    Watching the riots in London last week over cuts to public services and David Cameron stating how necessary there are as the UK is broke, my wife asked a simple question: if you're broke, why keeping getting into wars? A good question when the next news items was on the 'NATO' intervention/meddling in Libya...

    The West is bankrupting itself fighting things that pose little or no threat to it and for people who really could care less...it's well past time to withdraw, regroup and RETHINK before we go haring off on any more morally-driven crusades...

    While I don't agree with the case for the initial invasion of Iraq, more power to the US for staying the course and seeing that war through to a logical conclusion. But Afghanistan is not Iraq and the central government approach that worked in Iraq has no more chance of succeeding in Afghanistan than attempting to inflict a new religion on that nation...

    The real question is not whether to start pulling out but what will we do for all those people in Afghanistan to whom we have promised better (in a western understanding) lives...

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJPONeill View Post
    The simple answer is yes...what we are doing now is totally disconnected from what we went in there to (and did) do in 2001.
    I recall that the Allies drove al Qaeda into Taliban into the south and west and into Pakistan by spring of 2002. I don't recall in any of the tens years afterwards:

    1. destroying the enemy,
    2. forcing the enemy to capitulate, or
    3. securing Afghanistan (or Pakistan, for that matter)--and consequently the base, supply and assembly area the enemy used to stage the 9/11 attacks--from future contest.

    The Coalition leakily denies the enemy a breakout from his diminished territory, though the effort requires--minimum--a level of strength at least equivalent to that at the dawn of 2009. Still, seems to me the war ain't won and the threat eradicated until at least one of those three conditions are met.
    Last edited by Presley Cannady; 04-04-2011 at 12:06 AM.
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    ...and if we were still in WW2 or maybe even the Cold War, that might be what we would be aiming to do.

    Afghanistan stopped being the base for planning operations against the West by the beginning of 2003 - except, of course, those elements of the West that came to them and which are still in Afghanistan: one might argue that any actions against them might be justified defence against an invader (depending on your POV).

    Those who still seek and plan and conspire against the west have long since moved on from Afghanistan and what we face there now is a problem centuries old that we have blindly blundered into. We know that we are not going to cross the border and clear out sanctuaries on the Pakistani side of the 'border'; what we are doing in Afghanistan is doing nothing to ensure steady hands on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal: if anything the opposite...it's not helping us build bridges with Iran and only with India because it agitates the Pakistanis...

    Yes, there is an insurgency in Afghanistan but it is largely one of our own making and one which will continue so long as we continue to prop up an ineffective and unpopular 'government' that according to its leader doesn't want the west there...all those who thinks the Karzai government will last two weeks past a western withdrawal, please raise your hands...

    The simple fact is the best option for regional stability is a government in Afghanistan that we don't like but which allows us to meet our strategic objectives...and with that in mind, the same question remains: will we do the righty by those who expectations we have raised when we go?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJPONeill View Post
    ...and if we were still in WW2 or maybe even the Cold War, that might be what we would be aiming to do.
    Just so I'm clear, precisely what has changed since the end of the Cold War? Pertinent to our discussion, of course.

    Afghanistan stopped being the base for planning operations against the West by the beginning of 2003...
    And the Combined Fleet ceased to be an offensive threat following Truk.

    - except, of course, those elements of the West that came to them and which are still in Afghanistan: one might argue that any actions against them might be justified defence against an invader (depending on your POV).
    We can leave the ins and outs of various parties' worldviews and intentions to posterity for the moment. At the end of the day, beginning in 2002 the Coalition has been in an imposed stalemate with Taliban and al Qaeda, facing off in the frontier along the border of nuclear Pakistan. And that's pretty much the western firebreak in the larger strategic problem.

    Those who still seek and plan and conspire against the west have long since moved on from Afghanistan and what we face there now is a problem centuries old that we have blindly blundered into.
    Moved on? I was under the impression that they've taken advantage of the somewhat riskier but still manageable environments across Afghanistan's borders to flow both in and out of theater. I question whether the Coalition can claim victory simply because the international fragment of the threat is willing to leave the bulk of the fight in theater to the natives. Especially since that's the samed damned objective the Coalition is pursuing.

    We know that we are not going to cross the border and clear out sanctuaries on the Pakistani side of the 'border'
    So if we found the Rhine uncrossable for some reason, the Allies should've evacuated France?

    what we are doing in Afghanistan is doing nothing to ensure steady hands on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, if anything the opposite...it's not helping us build bridges with Iran and only with India because it agitates the Pakistanis...
    It also has nothing specifically to do with what we're doing in the Horn, or in Yemen, or in Southeast Asia, or a whole host of other fronts. Where is it written that wars must be won in single operations? OEF is keeping Afghanistan out of the hands of the Taliban and returning that state to the same people who struck the United States on 9/11. And unless we're in a topsy turvey world where not losing is no longer a prerequisite for winning, then returning the status quo ante would undoubtedly amount to a defeat.

    Yes, there is an insurgency in Afghanistan but it is largely one of our own making and one which will continue so long as we continue to prop up an ineffective and unpopular 'government' that according to its leader doesn't want the west there...all those who thinks the Karzai government will last two weeks past a western withdrawal, please raise your hands...
    It's borderline nonsense to argue that the Coalition "props" up Karzai in any meaningful way. Neither the US nor NATO designed Afghanistan's institutions. Neither chose the leadership, and despite various misgivings neither has done anything to interfere with Afghan self-determination. We know this because we have the examples of South Korea, the Republic of China, Mubarak's Egypt, Bahrain, and not a few African regimes. Some were spectacular successes, others not so much, but none involved tip toeing around internal affairs the way the Allies presently do in Kabul.

    Certainly the Coalition provides the host government protection against a mass of anti-Kabul INS breaking out across the AfPak border, reconstruction aid and training. And should Afghans see fit to change their government and continue to work with the West, then the same largess will be available to Karzai's successor.

    The simple fact is the best option for regional stability is a government in Afghanistan that we don't like but which allows us to meet our strategic objectives...
    We don't like the current government all that much. What we need is a government that will root out and kill our enemy for us. What we can't afford is a government that will enable or even just stand by and let the enemy operate from her territory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    What's changed?
    The regime in America.

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    Default Here is my reasoning for being in Astan ...

    30 Aug 2009 - AQ means ...

    "The Base" - and as such, is supporting to efforts by other groups on a global basis to a greater or lesser extent, dependent on its analysis of each group and its plans. It also was (and probably still is, to a lesser extent) capable of its own direct action operations.

    By analogy, AQ can be viewed as waging unconventional warfare in the classic sense of our FMs. A SFOB hinges on its personnel and functions, not on its location (or locations, which can be multiple - though obviously network-linked). So also AQ. That is COL Robert Jones' concept, which makes sense to me.

    As to the 2001 invasion of Astan, two reasons were (1) retribution and reprobation; and (2) specific deterrence[*]. Both reasons would have been satisfied by a complete destruction of the AQ leadership in Astan as we then knew it. That goal was not realized (Tora Bora et al).

    The direct action effort against the AQ leadership still persists (separate US command); but has been submerged by the much larger efforts of UN-NATO ("nation-building" and peace enforcement in favor of the Karzai government) and the US FID-SA effort with major combat support (as noted by Bill Moore).

    Since AQ (as a "base" of personnel and functions) is a moving target, the linkage between the effort against it, and the much larger Astan efforts, is not very clear to me. I expect I shall be enlightened.

    The Taliban, very intentionally on their part, simply got in the way of our direct action efforts against AQ.

    -----------------
    [*] Specific deterrence deters the individual wrongdoer (you execute the serial killer). That may have no general deterrence effect on serial killers to be.
    30 Aug 2009 - Two kinds of deterrence

    We've done a decent job on specific deterrence of AQ on three fronts: (1) intelligence + direct action (military); (2) intelligence + detention (law enforcement); and (3) disruption of network nodes, especially financing support (intelligence + counterintelligence).

    As to general deterrence, not a real clue because I see no real plan to do that. By analogy, we need something akin to the European socialists who were anti-communist, but scarcely supportive of USG announced policies. I suppose support of certain Muslim governments (which ones ?) would be the answer. I also expect the tradeoff would be a much lesser role for the US in the Muslim world. That seems to be where Kilcullen is heading at the end of his book (Accidental Guerrilla).

    As Ken noted, we are just getting into this - e.g., changes in Cold War strategy over decades.

    Anyway, this is really a question for the younger generations.

    So, what are your solutions to gain specific and general deterrence re: AQ ?
    25 Jul 2010 - Well, one can question ....

    whether a "COIN" strategy ever existed in Astan; and whatever the "Plan", the political side of the ledger was feeble at best ("lipstick on a pig" and the the rest of the cliches).

    That didn't bother me cuz my rationale for being in Astan in the first place (and I never saw a reason to change the rationale) was to mount direct action operations against the AQ leadership cadres in Astan and Pstan (more a matter of "rental" operations), based on principles of retribution, reprobation and specific deterrence.

    Other folks at much higher pay grades than mine, had different ideas.

    Anyway, agreed: alia jacta est - and we are now in the period of Afghanization and exit strategy(ies).
    The foregoing rationale (to me) constituted an overriding "but", even though Astan is in the middle of my personal "Never Again, but..." region - which looks like this:

    World Map US Limits.jpg

    However, that "but" only goes so far - especially when state building (or nation building) - which doesn't start to meet my "but" test, gets in the way of the direct objective for which we (US) started in 2001 Astan.

    Frankly, if we would have a better chance of killing our tall brother and his shorter comrade, by letting Astan revert to its pre-2001 condition (and by using better targeting methods than used in the Clinton era), I'd say let that happen.

    Both OEF and OIF had a certain initial cleanliness and clarity (the run up to Tora Bora and the run up to Baghdad) - and I count those among the most beautiful military efforts I've seen in my cognitive lifetime.

    So, my question to those who have been or are there (such as 120mm, who must have much of the time in for Astan citizenship ) is this:

    Is what we are doing now substantially advancing the direct objective I've outlined above ?

    If not, then we should revise the "Plan"; and if that requires a tactical withdrawal, so be it. If it requires other affirmative actions in Astan or Pstan, so be those.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 04-04-2011 at 04:42 AM.

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    I realize I am not as informed as many but I'm growing ever so tired of these redundant comments: It's time to get out of Afghanistan.

    Whether ill- or well-intentioned, these comments read in my mind as: Let's give in to the sand in our panties and just quit.

    Can we Americans just decide to finish and win, for once?

    I'm done with reading the naysayers, the depressed, the doom & gloom projectors and the apathy-ridden slugs that seem to think that no one currently in that theater or anyone preparing to go should be focused, positive, or feeling any sense of purpose.

    I believe one of the above comments hit precisely on the desired end state: to have a govt in place that can do the fighting and run the country without being or becoming a safe haven for those that will do us harm. Until that or a similar end state is achieved, perhaps the negative nancys can just find a local Starbucks to complain about.

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    Can we Americans just decide to finish and win, for once?
    The drama to Afghanistan tends to be the fact that we've already "won" with regard to many of our initial goals, but yet the definition of a "win", and what it means to us as a populace, depends on where you sit. One side doesn't believe we've finished the job, because the Taliban oppose us and the guy we propped up to be Number 1. If they come to power, then Al Qaeda is going to rush back in. The other side believes that Al Qaeda will never have the same foothold it did before November 2001, in Afghanistan, and that we need to stop wringing our hands over the possibility that the Taliban may come to the fore and run a crippled state.

    Erecting a wobbly government that cannot support itself without significant aid injections, and at the cost of a significant amount of our national treasure in lives and money, may make it a Pyhrric victory that we cannot afford.

    Again, it all depends on where you sit. "Wins" are not black and white anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    the desired end state: to have a govt in place that can do the fighting and run the country without being or becoming a safe haven for those that will do us harm.
    Five months shy of a decade and we still aren't there. If you include opium growers, heroin smugglers and their protectors among those that will do us harm, we're a very long way from achieving success as you've defined it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    The drama to Afghanistan tends to be the fact that we've already "won" with regard to many of our initial goals, but yet the definition of a "win", and what it means to us as a populace, depends on where you sit.
    No, it really doesn't. Either 1) the enemy has been destroyed, forced to capitulate, or emasculated such that he no longer poses a threat to Americans and their interests on American soil or abroad (victory), or 2) he hasn't (not victory). However amazingly executed initial operations were, until 1) happens, there is no reasonable way the Coalition can call it a win.
    Last edited by Presley Cannady; 04-04-2011 at 10:25 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannoneer No. 4 View Post
    Five months shy of a decade and we still aren't there. If you include opium growers, heroin smugglers and their protectors among those that will do us harm, we're a very long way from achieving success as you've defined it.
    What are the alternatives? The West will not countenance waging war in ways that might considerably expedite pacifying the Afghan population. The enemy enters and exits Afghanistan with impunity, and the Coalition cannot hope to field enough strength to deny him access to the border or points of departure and entry in neighboring countries. Your choices are:

    1. hand him back the base he used to strike at Americans ten years ago, or
    2. to stand up whatever institution it takes to keep him out once and for all.

    Am I missing anything?
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    You are missing the Strategic Communications campaign that somebody must competently wage to convince the American voter to pay for standing up whatever institution it takes to keep the enemy out once and for all.

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    "Win" and "Lose" are terms that are necessary for warfare. To attempt to play a war to a tie or a mutually beneficial solution is a fast way to end up in the "lose" column.

    But this is insurgency, which, doctrine be damned, is not war at all. It is a country dangerously out of balance with itself, where the populace feels compelled to adopt illegal, and often very violent, means to seek to force the government to a sustainable balance point. Far too often the government (that is often quite happy with the current imbalance of power opportunity) response is one of warfare against the populace. The presence of warfare does not make a situation war. (This is an equally important policy point for US leaders, just because they have put US forces into combat around the globe of late does not mean that we are a nation at war either.)

    So, is it a "win" if the US achieves what we think we need in Afghanistan (recognizing that what we think is at least a little wrong, and is quite possibly very wrong in terms of what actually best serves our interests)?

    Is a "win" establishing GIRoA control over the entire nation through an incredibly expensive program of violence and bribery against the populace, held in place through a massive foreign trained and funded national security force?

    Or is a "win" finding a new balance point that allows all Afghans to have equitable opportunity in the political and economic environment of their own nation? Does a satisfied populace under a system not controlled by the US better serve US interests than a suppressed populace under a system of our own design? In the modern age the answer is increasingly the former rather than the latter. We will learn that, but we have not learned that quite yet.

    We should have learned that in Vietnam, but we took away the wrong lessons learned. We should have learned that in Iraq, but again, we took away the wrong lessons learned. Now we apply those flawed lessons learned to the latest problem.

    A win for the US will be if the PEOPLE of Afghanistan win. Karzai and Omar will both need to compromise for that to occur. So will the Coalition. This is why the reconciliation process is so important. It cannot be the sham that follows a military defeat, it must be the reality that makes further military action unnecessary.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    "Never again...but"
    Sir, quick question. On your map what does the red horizontal line demarcate? (or were you just underlining the text.

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    Default Hey Tukhi,

    The red line is just an arbitrary horizontal line showing the width of the "Never Again" Region at that latitude. The "Never Again" Region encompasses the continental land masses of Eurasia and Africa.

    An expanded version of B.L. Montgomery's Rule 1:

    Do not march on Moscow
    and Rule 2:

    Do not go fighting with your land armies in China


    Or, viewed from a ship, US force projection should not go beyond the far littorals of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, absent an extremely compelling reason - which is the "but..." in the equation.

    An old concept (e.g., Mahan and others of the "Guardian" school of thought). See A.T. Mahan, Naval Strategy: Compared and Contrasted with the Principles and Practice of Military Operations on Land (1911) (pdf free from Google Books).

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default More blogging on this subj:

    Itís time to leave Afghanistan
    http://jbsanctuary.wordpress.com/201...e-afghanistan/

    Time to leave Afghanistan?
    http://www.blackfive.net/main/2011/0....html#comments

    Should we give up on Afghanistan?
    http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=22807

    The comments on these blogs are an indicator that some of the most sympathetic and supportive members of the domestic target audience are disgusted and demoralized. Whoever does the SITREP Live from Afghanistan for the MILBLOG Conference will need to slip down to Dubai and spend a night in a Holiday Inn Express or La Quinta before they strategically communicate to that crowd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannoneer No. 4 View Post
    You are missing the Strategic Communications campaign that somebody must competently wage to convince the American voter to pay for standing up whatever institution it takes to keep the enemy out once and for all.
    Happens every year on September 11.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannoneer No. 4 View Post
    The comments on these blogs are an indicator that some of the most sympathetic and supportive members of the domestic target audience are disgusted and demoralized.
    1. They don't get to be demoralized, and someone should tell them as much. This isn't baseball and we're not talking about a pennant you can take another whack at next year.

    2. JB contemplating the US quitting the field hinges on two very dubious notions: "that we've killed most of Al-Qaida," and that "[s]mall amounts of Special Operations Forces could have been left in strategic locations to periodically take out AQ as they popped up." I say dubious because there is no firm estimate of AQ's base strength, let alone that of its affiliates and all other individuals and groups willing to act independently in the same vein. Additionally, it seems ludicrous to suggest that special forces can range across a country the size of Texas and do a job that the entire Coalition commitment can't achieve in a territory half the size of New York.

    It's one thing to be dissatisfied with the way things are going (though it helps if you at least show up with a better plan in hand). It's another thing to demand the Allies pack it up when an enemy bound and determined to get back on the offensive is still out there.
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