I agree with you about the unreliability of the media in reporting of the war, but that comes mostly from the opinions of reporters . When they are interviewing participants we get a more clear view. There are other sources of information like think tanks and veteran’s blogs. Your assumption that only people who have served there in the military have a clear view of what is happening is ridiculous. We have had other ex military saying that they knew little of what was happening outside of their unit. The purpose of my post was to ask questions, but I admit to steering the answers by suggesting that my questions be considered against certain assumptions. If John thinks those assumptions are invalid, then I expect that he will say so.
1. Afghanistan is a huge mess. If we left now it would revert to the way that the Taliban want it to be and we would have achieved nothing. Just my opinion there. I bought your argument in relation to Iraq because that is a more developed country and has some hope of making government institutions work. That is not the case in the tribal areas of Afghanistan. This is also a White House view not just that of the the Washington Post for reporting it.
The military like to play up their success and praise themselves, so they are even less reliable than the media.
2. I never said you were brainwashed. I don’t even know you. You may have access to classified information that is denied to me, but is it current? The White House does not seem to have access to it.
3.On “failed state” I considered the usual definition of “failed” to have attempted to do something and not succeeded. My point was that the Afghans have not tried very hard so their failure is limited. But that is a small point and does not matter much here. We agree that it is still a failure, and that supports my bleak assessment more than yours.
4. I have no doubt our soldiers do feel that they are defending their country and would react like that. The fact is that armed forces everywhere are often used to further the interests of their country other than by resisting attacks on the homeland. Have you heard of “battleship diplomacy”. I actually think that invading Afghanistan with the aim of finding the 911 bombers was a good idea. Staying there to make a modern successful state out of the country is not. I doubt that we succeeded with the first goal. I think that the Taliban got up our nose so we decided to stay a while and sort them out once and for all. Bad idea.
5. Your situational awareness is flagging here. In my opinion the most likely next war zones for us fighting Al Qaeda would be Somalia and Yemen. They have all the pre-conditions that Afghanistan had. A failed Islamic state with a corrupt and ineffective national army, a civil war festering, and porous borders: perfect.
6. That was an opinion I drew from a war college paper. Do you really think that the cost of supporting the Taliban in the kind of fighting it is doing in Afghanistan is beyond some of the wealthiest families in the world. Of course not. It is a perfect strategy because it inflicts massive damage on American society and its wealth out of all proportion to what it costs them. The USA is much weaker now than it was when they invaded, so keep it up long enough and they might even destroy America.
8. Vietnam is a clear warning. Eventually we had no choice there and there is every indication that the same thing could happen in Afghanistan. It is foolish not to learn from mistakes.
and most Americans who live in third-world conditions back home are just flat-out lazy.
9. Crap. That is just hackneyed conservative propaganda. Try supporting your family on the wages from a job in a cat fish cannery in the Mississippi delta. The sad uncomfortable fact is that there is an immense number of hard working poor in this country.
You say that it is not possible for our military to eliminate the Taliban and bring them to justice.
10. Indeed I do. Speaking precisely, the military are not an instrument of the justice system. They are not equipped to consider guilt and innocence. Our government can decide that they are guilty and use its military to administer punishment, but that is not justice either. That was silly G W rhetoric to make himself look like a tough guy. In fact, the US Army has demonstrated quite comprehensively that it is incapable of eliminating the Taliban in the environment of Afghanistan. How much more proof do you need?
11. I did not say that we could talk the Taliban out of the war. I suggested that a smarter tactic might be to dry up their sources of supply by targeting their roots through diplomatic means. The guilty Saudi families do not want to lose their power, and I think that a cleaver State Department, linked to banking and the oil business could possibly find a means of making them fear that.
12. Soldiers who criticize the courage of other soldiers usually lose credibility rather rapidly. The Dutch army is bound by rules of engagement set by its government that are different from those set by our government. They know that the Dutch people are not committed to the American goals, and so will not accept the same kind of casualties as we do. So their effectiveness as combat troops is reduced. Look John, this is basic stuff. You should understand this if you are going to take such an arrogantly superior tone as you have in your post.
12. The Aussies have not been an extension of the British since Federation in 1901. In WWII they combined forces with the Brits to defeat the Germans and with the USA to defeat the Japs, that’s all. Since WWII, the Australian Army has specialized in light infantry counter revolutionary tactics, and so it is very good in that role. They also have an excellent Military College (ADFA – Uni of NSW) that has analysed the hell out of the Afghan War. I agree with you that the Aussies will support us right or wrong, but they are under no illusions about why they are there.
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