Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How to Tell When a War is Over

Modern wars are messy affairs, and since they rarely involve two standing armies going against one another trying to gain territorial advantage anymore, it sometimes can be difficult to tell when they are effectively over and your side has no chance of winning even though it is still conducting military operations. In Vietnam, one of the key indicators that the war was effectively over for the United States was when soldiers began to "frag" their superiors rather than follow their orders. Once that started happening, the pressure on the country's "leadership" to find an "honorable" way out of that jungle quagmire became overwhelming.

We have now reached a similar moment in the stalemated war in Afghanistan, as reported yesterday by the Atlantic Wire:
After yet another green-on-blue attack left four Americans dead on Sunday, U.S. troops have suspended their joint operations with Afghan security forces. And who could blame them? Afghans are responsible for about 15 percent of all coalition deaths, and efforts to promote better cultural understanding are suffering with the recent surge of anti-American sentiment in the region due to the anti-Islam film that's been making its way around the Internet.

Truth is, Americans have been ordered to keep bullets in their chambers at all times and are looking over their shoulders at every turn. "We're to the point now where we can't trust these people," a senior military official told NBC News. "It's had a major impact on our ability to conduct combat operations with them, and we're going to have to back off to a certain degree." The suspension of join operations are indefinite, one official said, and "could last three days or three months."

Again, it's not terribly surprising that Americans taking a step back. It was a particularly messy weekend for coalition forces. On Friday night and into Saturday morning, insurgents disguised in U.S. Army uniforms snuck into the British-run Camp Bastion, where Prince Harry is stationed, through a hole in the fence. Once inside, they took out six (very expensive) AV-8B Harrier jets, "significantly damaged" two more and totally destroyed six refueling stations. They also killed two U.S. Marines. Then, on Sunday, U.S. airstrike killing eight Afghan women gathering firewood on a hillside, and the Taliban took out $150 million worth of plans and equipment in the most expensive insurgent attack of 11-year-long conflict.

Let us re-emphasize the fact that nobody is very happy with how things are going in Afghanistan. The U.S. military stopped training members of the Afghan Local Police earlier this month, a tough move since those are the guys who are supposed to take control of the country's security when coalition troops leave at the end of 2014. As such, experts have grown pretty pessimistic about the handoff. "It looks like what we're going to be handing off is a stalemated war," Stephen Biddle, an international affairs professor at George Washington University told the Associated Press on Monday, "which means the U.S. Congress will be asked to write these checks (to support Afghan forces) for years and years and years with no plausible argument that we're going to bring this to a successful conclusion, at least on the battlefield."
Just like with the fragging incidents in Vietnam, when an occupying army can no longer engage in military operations or even conduct training exercises with their supposed local "allies" the occupation is effectively finished. This is the end result of Obama's insane military surge in Afghanistan, which we must remember was done for no other apparent reason other than to prove that he was a tough guy.

Bonus: Those who forget the past...


  1. The taliban may have finally found a way to get us out - billions upon billions of destroyed war machines.

    Dead soldiers can be replaced quickly, but billions of equipment, now we're talking about real numbers that start to impact how quickly we can ship shit over there to replace the shit the taliban destroys.

  2. Another great post Bill but so freakin' sad...I grew up in the whole post 60s era of world betterment! Screw that! The vultures took over. Yesterday you mentioned the Chicago a teacher I am so on their side but I know it was hopeless. I voted for that Hopey-Changey traitor in '08...I REFUSE to vote again. It is meaningless. Websites like yours have helped me become politically aware...but to what realize the destruction of the Earth?

    1. That is the ultimate question, isn't it? Sometimes I wonder to what end in writing this blog. Mostly, it helps me maintain my sanity.

  3. "Sometimes I wonder to what end in writing this blog. Mostly, it helps me maintain my sanity."

    That is the exact same reason I continue to read it. Thanks Bill!

  4. Makes you wonder why they call this place "the graveyard of empires," doesn't it?