Let me begin this essay with the acknowledgment that I have no credentials whatsoever in geo-politics or military planning. I never served in the military nor do I have any experience in anti-terrorism. I am just a plain everyday American who thinks too much and wonders about the future.
We are losing the “war” in Afghanistan. That is inevitable. We have lost the “war” in Iraq. That too was inevitable. The only “hot” war we have not lost since 1945 was in Korea where our efforts in repulsing North Korean aggression permitted the South Korean people to develop a free and prosperous society.
In Korea, we fought another nation and its allies that sought to defeat and occupy a free state. The threat in Korea was external. In Viet Nam, we fought on behalf of less than popular governments against an indigenous insurgency as well as external forces. In Iraq and Afghanistan we fight on behalf of cobbled together governments in states created out of whole cloth by American, British and French diplomats after WWI against local Muslim extremists intent on toppling these regimes. The only way we can “win” these wars is to behave as conquerors have for time immemorial. Ruthlessly and permanently impose our will on the entire nation. To succeed we must do as was done in The Great Plains, drive out the local peoples and populate the countryside with our own settlers. Make Afghanistan into North Dakota. Since we have no interest at all in permanently colonizing Afghanistan or Iraq we cannot win unless we utterly destroy the insurgency root, branch and leaf. We lack the viciousness necessary for such an undertaking.
This is not to say that America lacks the will to destroy an enemy, just ask Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan - or the Comanche’s or Apaches. Americans must sense an existential threat before unleashing the fullness of its violent nature. The North American Indians were herded and eliminated because they either killed and terrorized settlers or just stood in the way of occupation and growth. In WWII America fueled by rage at the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and a real and legitimate fear of that our way of life would be destroyed created and released the most horrific multi-modal killing machine the world has ever known.
The current conflicts resemble much more the Plains Indian wars than the global wars of yesterday but with one huge difference. Our “cavalry” in Iraq and Afghanistan are proxies for an element of the peoples within those benighted lands as if the French Foreign Legion had fought the Apaches for white settlers.
An indigenous insurgency using guerilla tactics such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban need only avoid total obliteration to defeat a foreign occupying force that is not committed to permanent and merciless rule. In Iraq, our forces won the war when Saddam was toppled. We lost the war when we signed on to protect the nascent and artificial democracy. In six or seven years, we have killed massive numbers of terrorists and Baathists, but we have not killed the critical mass necessary to eradicate the threat. We will not do this because it would require too much bloodshed, combatant and otherwise. Whether we stay another year or six, anti government insurgents will likely still remain, growing stronger among fanatics and those who resent the foreign occupier. When we leave there will be a new war, a civil war in which the most powerful and vicious side will prevail. The winner will then subjugate the land to its will by force. So has it ever been in this part of the world, so will it ever be.
The same dynamic is playing out in Afghanistan. In 2001-2003 we killed tens of thousands Taliban and Al Qaeda in that country. We installed a faux democratic government [as we did in Iraq] and began to apply pacification policies that worked in a devastated Western Europe and Japan in the middle of the last century that have not worked anywhere since and will not work in a region mired in the 12th century. The new government lacking any direction not given by American diplomats and generals flopped about like a fish on the shore while the Taliban and Al Qaeda retreated to Pakistan, licked their wounds, regrouped and began to terrorize yet again.
Having read and participated in recent history the insurgents know well that the American people tire quickly of shedding their own blood fighting for questionable regimes halfway round the world and doing so in kid gloves. They know we will leave and they will have only to defeat the weak and marginally popular government we leave behind.
Experts opine that defeating the Taliban is an absolute must if we are to avoid more and deadlier terrorist attacks on American soil. The American people do not believe this and for good reason. The Taliban live in caves on the other side of the planet. They are no threat to us. An eight-man sleeper cell sponsored by Iran or Egypt or some rich private terrorists has the capability of killing more Americans than all the Taliban in the Afghanistan! The only threat The Taliban poses if they once again rule Afghanistan is permitting and operating training bases for Muslim killers. Our armed forces are reputed to possess satellites that can display the breed of a stray dog scratching himself in a vacant lot. We have weapons that appear out of nowhere to destroy city blocks. We can deliver bombs with drones operated by video game joysticks. Keep one of these eyes on Afghanistan and if a training camp or arms depot appears destroy it from afar. Apply the same policy to Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Yemen, Iran or any other potential home to the Mohammedan scourge.
I fear that our government from GWB to Obama has used Iraq and Afghanistan to deflect our attention from their refusal or inability to deal adequately with the one rogue state in the Middle East that does pose an existential threat to America. Iran. Iran sponsors more terrorism in a month than comes from Afghanistan in a year. It spreads Muslim malignancy throughout the globe, thumbs it nose at world opinion and actively seeks nuclear weapons it has pledged to use to wipe Israel off the face of the map. While we waste money and blood on primitives in Afghanistan a storm brews over Iran that may literally bring an end to civilization, as we know it.
Israel is the most peaceable of all nations. It minds it own business and protects its own borders. It does not involve itself in foreign intrigues. However Israel strikes as quickly and lethally as a cobra when sufficiently threatened. It would do well for today’s world leaders to study the conditions facing Israel on the eve of the Six Day War. Without a homeland for nearly four centuries the Jews will not sit idly by awaiting destruction.
Iran will not obtain operational nuclear weapons. It will be deterred either by the spectre of overwhelming force from America and permit the western alliance to dis-mantle its nuclear infrastructure without conflict – or – Israel will dis-mantle it for them in a first strike that will leave Tehran a smoking, radioactive ruin and the world in shock. If Israeli leaders believe other nations might rise to avenge Iran they too will be preemptively destroyed. Once this nuclear Pandora’s Box is opened who can say what nightmare may ensue. Will India take the opportunity to destroy Pakistan? Will China attack India? Will North Korea take vengeance on Japan for centuries of abuse?
Some allow that Barack Obama is the antichrist. Of course this is so much hysterical hyperbole. That said if he continues to play games in Afghanistan and seek games for Chicago while Iran slouches toward oblivion, our President may well be present with him at the end of time.