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Thread: Why America Can't Win Mountain Wars

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    Default Why America Can't Win Mountain Wars


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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    This kind of jumped out at me:
    Mountainous regions are majestic and beautiful, and often they are perceived as strategic because like Afghanistan, they site astride trade routes, or there are political and emotional attachments, such as between Pakistan and Kashmir.
    I wonder why people keep saying that Afghanistan sits astride a trade route? What trade route exactly is this? What goods of note, other than drugs, have passed through Afghanistan in human memory?
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Based on the author's analysis the mountainous terrain had little to do with our short comings, and he fails to make an argument that we lost in Italy (last time I checked we won, albeit at a great cost), and we succeeded in keeping the communists from uniting Korea. All conventional armies find mountainous terrain challenging, but on the other hand how many truly strategic objectives are in the mountains?

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    Afghanistan is more like a roadblock to potential trade routes. This analysis from the Real Institute Elcano highlights the geo-economic dimensions of the Central Asian region. There are five ways out of Central Asia: Russia, China, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Caspian. Three are closed to US control (Russia, China, Iran), one is about to close (Afg), and one is in dispute (Caspian).

    The quest to open new corridors that undermine Russia's geographic and infrastructure monopoly in Central Asia (originally) looked to Afghanistan as an opportunity alongside routes through the Caspian. The Afghan conflict obviously makes it necessary to look elsewhere in the interim.
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    I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't really take away a strong link between Italy, Korea and Afghanistan other than that the author happened to choose them for this article.

    I find when I read War is Boring, I generally prefer David Axe's writings.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    Afghanistan is more like a roadblock to potential trade routes. This analysis from the Real Institute Elcano highlights the geo-economic dimensions of the Central Asian region. There are five ways out of Central Asia: Russia, China, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Caspian. Three are closed to US control (Russia, China, Iran), one is about to close (Afg), and one is in dispute (Caspian).

    The quest to open new corridors that undermine Russia's geographic and infrastructure monopoly in Central Asia (originally) looked to Afghanistan as an opportunity alongside routes through the Caspian. The Afghan conflict obviously makes it necessary to look elsewhere in the interim.
    The briefly proposed Afghan pipeline project would have had a very minimal capacity and was never a serious effort to undermine Russian dominance of Central Asian hydrocarbon export routes. The US of course cannot "control" Central Asian exports, and never could. Since the US doesn't need to control them, it's not a matter of any great relevance. I don't think the US interest in Afghanistan has ever been about controlling trade.

    The Russian dominance of Central Asian export routes will of course eventually be broken by China, a process that has already begun. That's not something the US needs to be much concerned with.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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