Nothing has changed in the Graveyard Of Empires since Alexander. Though other nations have been fighting over Afghanistan throughout its interesting but bloody history, they never win. The tribes endure ... especially the Pashtuns, forever the largest and most historically hegemonic, who, as Talibans, were once our secret allies against the Russians (see "Charlie Wilson's War" posts DM #24-25, 28). Here we see them, more than a century ago, about to ambush their very own British allies against the Russian imperialist threat of their day! Double-cross and turn-about are always fair play, whether the ancient Zoroastrian kingdom of "Pastunistan" is allied with Mohamet, Genghis Khan, Queen Victoria, Charlie Wilson, or Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban. The tribes endure.
Because they simply never give up. And won't, as long as the USA is seen as an aggressor/occupier of their homeland. Let them have their beloved Taliban. They get what they deserve--and, after all, once-upon-a-time we were crazy about them! Recruits come easy, and there are enough hiding places in the endless mountains and desert wastes of Afghanistan to harbor the combined forces of the NLF and Viet-Cong. Sorry, nightmare flashback. Now, Gen. Stanley McChrystal--our Gen. Wm. Westmoreland of the moment--would have us believe differently about all this. In an interview with Diane Sawyer, she reminds him that he had said on earlier occasions that "we needed a quantum shift [sic], something dramatic to shift the momentum." Then: "Have you done it," she asks, "have you turned the tide?" Here's his dramatically "shifty" reply:
I believe we are doing that right now. I believe we have changed the way we operate in Afghanistan. Changed some of our structures. We're on the way to convincing the Afghan people that we're here to protect them."Interesting, because more than one CIA operative in the field says we're virtually "clueless" about how the Afghan people feel about anything. But more of that in a minute. McChrystal is mouthing the same old bullshit that we heard from the U.S. Military for years upon years during Vietnam. "Light at the end of the tunnel" and all that. Can't we learn from history and not repeat it? asketh the tired but true bromide. One of the most disappointing, nay shocking, aspects of the President's Dec. 1 speech justifying his fatal "surge" was Obama the scholar/teacher disavowing any valid connection between Vietnam and AfPak (DM #175). When even a second-rate mind should easily grasp it.
In so many words, a late-December-2009 report by the Deputy Chief Of Military Intelligence in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, contradicts Obama and McChrystal at every "turn of the tide." Pretty much under the radar of mainstream news, his un-classified (which maybe they'd like to re-think) "State of the Insurgency" concludes most ominously that
The Afghan insurgency could SUSTAIN ITSELF INDEFINITELY. The Taliban retains its original partnerships to sustain support through its legitimacy and military capacity ... and the Taliban is expanding, contesting and controlling additional areas of influence ... The original stability is rapidly decreasing and getting worse.Maj. Gen. Flynn further points out that "kinetic" events (love the euphemism for murder and mayhem) have increased by 300% since 2007, and another 60% since 2008, with greater frequency of attacks and in more varied areas. The Taliban, in other words, is more organized than ever. Robert Grenier, former CIA chief in Islamabad, says that this state of affairs will always obtain, because "A conventional military force, whatever its strategic intent, is going to look like to the local people a colonizing, occupying army, and is not going to succeed in Afghanistan." (See video of Sawyer, McChrystal, Flynn, Grenier here)
The full intelligence report, picked up and excerpted by the Jan. 5 London Times online (here), blames the problem in large measure on so little "intelligence" in the way our spies have been doing their business in the AfPak regions. Flynn quotes one of his operatives confessing to being "clueless" about the country he's spying on: "We're no more than fingernail deep in our understanding of the environment." Most tellingly, Flynn writes that we've "fallen into the trap" of waging an "anti-insurgency campaign" aimed at capturing or killing mid-to-high-level militants, while remaining oblivious to the people it was supposed to be helping.
Tell you what: How about we just leave the party early? These people aren't worth knowing.