STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
U.S. Troops Hope Afghanistan Sacrifices Not in Vain
By Staff News & Analysis - October 28, 2009

The sirens blared as a Taliban rocket attack rattled troops across Kandahar Air Field for the second time last week. Army Sgt. 1st Class Teresa R. Coble and other members of her unit at the base's media-support center hit the floor, lay flat on the dusty cement and protected their heads with their hands. Later, the unit moved to cement-reinforced bunkers until the all-clear sounded. While the Obama administration debates whether to send tens of thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and Afghans prepare to vote for president for the second time in four months, some of those already braving rockets and bombs worry that their mission has lost the support of the U.S. public and that their sacrifices – and those of their fallen comrades – have been in vain. "What about the troops who died giving their lives for this mission?" Sgt. Coble asked as she waited for the rocket alert to finish. – Washington Times

Dominant Social Theme: Ending the war?

Free-Market Analysis: What exactly was the Afghanistan war about? We're still not sure. We believe that many others are unsure as well. We know initially, the war was about getting rid of Al Quaeda, but that was nearly eight years ago. Since then, the war seems to have morphed into an effort to install a democratic state. Well, Afghanistan is a difficult country to tame, and we're not sure the tribes that make up Afghanistan are ready for Western-style democracy.

The war may actually have been about removing the tribe that has been behind most of the resistance, first to the Russians and now to the United States. This tribe, some 40 million strong, is called the Pashtun. They are familial, make their living at least in part by cultivating drugs and are fiercely independent – recognizing both Pakistan and Afghanistan as their homeland.

It is not easy to remove an insurgency that has the support of the citizenry in this day and age. The Pashtun fighters do not just have the support of the citizenry – they ARE the citizenry. They can pick up their guns at night and blend into the countryside during the day. If they are cornered, they can flee into the mountains. In the meantime they can place explosive devices wherever they need to because the have the support of the populace which knows where the homemade bombs are planted even if the Americans and other Western forces do not.

Anyway, it is very difficult to "win" a war. (That's why war has been called a "racket" by those who understand modern wars are likely prosecuted to manipulate the population that is FIGHTING them.) And that's why, as we have pointed out in the past, the Romans did well to raze Carthage and then apparently salt the earth. The Greeks did the same kind of thing to Troy – though we would hasten to point out that there are apparently seven cities built in the location that was Troy, one on top of the other.

Heck, think of your own children, if you have them. Are they always obedient? They are your flesh and blood and yet they may listen to you or they may not. Now imagine a society of warlike strangers, dedicated to doing what they wish, not what you want. Modern wars are very difficult to win. People are difficult to control, even (or especially) with violence.

The way modern conquests work – when they work at all – is that the nation is occupied and a new government is put in place that provides a framework for the conquerors' wishes. Without total subjugation and a new government compliant to the foreign entity the chances of any kind of lasting change are slim to none. In Afghanistan and Iraq, both, new governments have been installed, but the pacification of these two societies is incomplete. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, Western funds have been used to buy influence but it is questionable whether a "bought" population will stay bought. We would be inclined to believe it may not. We are, in fact, almost sure it will not.

Without a population's total subjugation and a new government that is entirely compliant with the victor's wishes, the victors may have a hard time declaring a believable victory. The United States, in fact, has fought a series of inconclusive wars for just this reason: The dual criteria have not been fulfilled.

The last war that the US fought to victory in our opinion was World War II. The victories over Japan and Germany were fairly long-lasting because the population and the ruling elite were subjugated and the new governments were compliant. We don't believe that is the case in either Iraq (where the US is supposedly trying to leave) or Afghanistan (where the US is supposedly trying to stay).

Here's something on Iraq that shows the situation in that country may not be so settled as the US military would like citizens to believe:

Iraqis mourn victims of worst bombing in 2 years

BAGHDAD (AP) – The death toll from Iraq's worst attack in more than two years climbed to 155 Monday as Iraqis buried the dead from the twin suicide bombings that devastated the heart of Baghdad.

Funerals were held around the city amid heightened security that snarled traffic during the morning rush hour. The bombings targeted two government buildings, calling into question the state's ability to protect itself as it prepares for January elections and the U.S. military withdrawal.

"Sadness is overwhelming today in the office," said one government employee, who asked that her name not be used because she did not want to be reprimanded for speaking publicly about authorities. "It's as if we are sitting at a funeral in the office because many of our colleagues and people we know were killed."

The attacks targeted the Baghdad Provincial Administration building and the Justice Ministry, wounding hundreds of people, including three American contractors. Officials revised the number of wounded down to about 500 Monday, from 700 the day before. There have been no claims of responsibility or arrests so far.

Please note, dear reader, that the rational for Western forces being deployed in Afghanistan seems to have changed several times. Meanwhile, the rational for forces being deployed in Iraq were never clear to begin with. Without a solid justification, the ability to win a war is immediately compromised. These most recent wars may have projected American power but ultimately they will probably be regarded as failures, just as Vietnam was.

After Thoughts

When the Western monetary elite fights as many failed wars as have been fought in the past 50 years one may be justified in wondering what is going on and why these wars are being pursued. It is almost as if the treasure and energy is being bled out of the West without any results. The soldiers in Afghanistan are right to wonder if their sacrifices are in vain. We would argue it was almost, unfortunately, a forgone conclusion.

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