Skip to comments.U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan Now as Long as Russia’s, With as Few Results
Posted on 08/21/2010 2:24:38 PM PDT by Pan_Yan
Russia waged a disastrous nine-year war in Afghanistan. In its ninth year, is the U.S. faring any better?
In 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to remove the Taliban government in response to the destruction of the World Trade Center. In 2010, according to a recent poll by the Associated Press, roughly 6 out of 10 Americans disapprove of Obamas good war, which has seen the loss of over 1100 U.S. lives.
In September 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, taking its airfields and executing its president, H. Amin. Within 9 years, the Soviets lost close to 15,000 soldiers in the unforgiving terrain of Afghanistan before exiting in defeat.
In October 2009, General David Petraeus remarked that America was mindful of history in its military campaign against Afghanistan, and certainly [wouldn't] try to do what the Russians did.
Yet after nine years, the similarities between the two campaigns and the culture surrounding them are striking.
Resistance From Other Nations When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, it had a powerful detractor: The United States. President Jimmy Carter opposed the invasion, which resulted in cancelled grain shipments to Russia as well as a boycott of the 1980 Olympics. The U.S. began supplying weaponry to the Afghan offense, openly supporting a dictatorial Islamic regime, as military historian Major James T. McGhee put it.
Over the past nine years, France, Great Britain, the Dutch and others have all pulled their forces from what the Bush administration dubbed the Coalition of the Willing. This was a tacit global disapproval of the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. By July 2010, the conflict was widely understood to be Americas War.
Common Enemy Afghanistans tribal culture is a notoriously complex web of ethnicity and religious practice. Yet, no matter how disparate the cultures seem to foreigners, they unite against common enemies. In the eighties, they fought tirelessly against the godless Communists. In this decade they have fought the Great Satan. There is a religious sentiment to both derogatory statements, suggesting any war waged on Afghan soil will be a war against Islam.
Immoral Tactics In addition to placing time bombs in toys then gifting them to children, the Soviet troops enacted a scorched earth military campaign. They burned crops and towns, forcing up to three million Afghans into tent cities, where the men were recruited then trained to fight against their Soviet oppressors.
The United States counterinsurgency effort, which has been lambasted by Vice President Joe Biden, who suggests a radical shift in military policy to counter-terrorism, takes a seemingly peaceful approach when compared to, say, putting a bomb in a teddy bear. But the U.S. Predator drone strikes mar this humanitarian effort.
Targeted killing has dotty history at best, as detailed in Jane Mayers excellent The Predator War. Innocent victims are regularly killed during misfired targeted strikes. Mechanized killers are the stuff of nightmares, but have become a daily reality for the Afghan people.
Then there is the U.S.s most powerful opposition: its own citizens.
Unsurprisingly, U.S. citizens abhor the loss of U.S soldiers, and losing lives is an argument that riles up all Americans on the right and left. The culture war aggravators, from politicians like John Boehner and Rahm Emanuel to pundits like Sarah Palin and John Stewart, give the impression the U.S. is a divided country whose citizens merely tolerate one another, and that our unifying principle must be the purchase of similar products like iPods and movie tickets. But we do the draw the line at the death of fellow countrymen. And we do not find dignity in the deaths of this war.
Why? Because nobody knows whats supposed to happen if we win in Afghanistan. Its an abstraction, and we find this intolerable.
Have you ever googled Winning in Afghanistan? I have, and heres what pops up: Stanley McChrystal: No Ones Winning in Afghanistan.
Google What happens if we win in Afghanistan? and you will not find an answer. Sadly, if you directed the question at the highest levels of our government, you wouldnt get one, either.
Well gee whiz, if it ain't on Google, then it just ain't...
I would argue that G.W. Bush has a STERLING success in the latter. First, Libya "voluntarily" defanged itself after we invaded Iraq. Second, Saddam and all threats---real or potential---he presented are gone and a functioning democracy in place. Third, Iran is now bookended by U.S. operating positions. This is supremely important. If IRAN---as almost everyone has said for a decade---is the final piece on the chessboard, then Afghanistan is essential to taking Iran.
Fourth, almost ALL guerrilla wars take between five and ten years, and 70% have been won by the "government" (i.e., us). The exceptions were China and Vietnam, and in neither case did we utilize even remotely all our war-making capabilities.
Finally, I think Bush should be credited with enormous success in wiping out the guts of the worldwide terrorist movement. He first pushed it off U.S. shores---there has not been a successful outside-in attack since 9/11. Then he forced the radical Muzzies to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, and sucked in thousands from all over the world to kill them there. We NEVER could have invaded 20 countries, so they played right into his hands, so to speak, by going to Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, the major successful attacks have been in London and Spain, not here. And since 2005, there have been almost no major bombings or al-Qaeda attacks anywhere.
Yes yes and yes.
The war against Islam must be won.
This is a powerful video. Three Things About Islam
The U.S. hasn’t been 9/11’d again, so on that basis alone knocking the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan has been a succes.
Fight them “over there” instead of “over here” and all that...
For another reason, Iran is encircled by U.S. forces, with our forces in Afghanistan closing the ring.
I think your analysis is sound. Unfortunately, we do not have a continuity of leadership or goals. Our problem is not what we did for the first seven years in Afghanistan or why. Our problem is what do we do now and why.
I think the price of staying will be high. I think the price of leaving would be catastrophic.
Yep, no doubt about it. As opposed to allowing a dictatorial Soviet puppet regime.
There's a reason why certain Majors never get to be Colonels.
Well stated. Afghanistan and, even in bigger measure, Iraq were mousetraps, flytraps and roach motels that attracted jihadists from all over to where we had the most capabilities and overwhelming power to kill or capture them; al-Qaeda was essentially destroyed in Iraq.
As well we removed financing and recruiting capabilities and incentives of state regimes (Taliban and Saddam) and demoralized future potential recruits and recruitment efforts.
And many people simply don’t take the time to look at the map if they don’t see that Iran is between the Iraq and the “hard place” (Afghanistan).
Fortunately, there are a plenty of easy answers to the question What happens if we leave or lose in Afghanistan?.
you see that we already won in Iraq. Even Obama can't avoid tacitly admitting that. But he is already screwing up Afghanistan---which was a low-level war, but not unsuccessful, under Bush. Now Afghanistan will threaten to bleed back to Iraq.
The American invasion of Afghanistan was a solid punch to the Taliban back in 2001.
Kabul was rid of the Taliban, schools were opened, a new government formed, women could actually go outside without having to don a GP Small.
In the last couple of years suddenly the American military is getting its ass kicked? How? Why?
Winston Smith don't taste good.
The other day we passed a grim milestone. There have been more American troops lost in Afghanistan under 19 months of President Obama than under 7 years of President Bush. The only article I could find about it on Free Republic was some guy pimping his blog. It should be breaking news on every forum, network and paper.
You are very, very kind, LS. The author equates burning of cities and crops by the Russians with a few civilian deaths from the American drone strikes. He equates, tacitly, the invaders' aims: colonization of Afghanistan by the Russian, and our strike at al Qaeda with a promised withdrawal upon success. How much more disingenuous can the author be. Even his phrase, "immoral methods," is from 1960s.
He is an anti-War '60s fellow, and does not bother with truth or logic to promulgate his point of view.
Actually, I looked through his article archives and I think he's relatively young.
Stephen H. Blackwell
Associate Professor of Russian
PhD, Indiana University, 1995
Doesn't make his perspective valid, but your guess about his history was incorrect.
I did not mean that literally. The '60s radicals made it "cool" to be anti-establishment for several generations. When calling him such I referred to his outlook: America can do no right; all the world problems stem from America's misdeeds.
Michelle Obama is not a '60s radical either, but she reveals the same mindset when she refers to America as a "mean country."
I read the article, and felt the steam rising from my collar. Before I could crack my knuckles and begin typing like mad, I read your post, and...no need for me to restate what you so efficiently stated. Good job, LS...:)
Well and truly stated ... as usual, Sir.
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