Friday, September 4, 2009


Murphy and Callahan, Military Experts

In the Chicago Tribune Steve Chapman writes (HT2LRC):
On Oct. 7, 2001, the United States launched one of the most stunningly successful military operations in its history. Just four weeks after terrorists directed from Afghanistan killed nearly 3,000 people on American soil, we struck Al Qaeda and Taliban government targets with aircraft missiles and Special Forces soldiers. By early December, the Taliban was out of power, Al Qaeda had fled into the mountains and victory was ours.

But that was eight years ago. Did anyone expect back then that we would still be in Afghanistan today, with more troops than ever? The war we thought we had won is not only dragging on but getting worse.
You know, I'm getting really sick of this "nobody could have predicted" garbage. Whether it's WMD in Iraq, the housing crash, the Bush administration manipulating the terror alert levels, or the fortunes of the Afghanistan occupation, people who were pooh-poohing the defeatists or conspiracy theorists at the time are now saying, "It's not our fault for missing this. All responsible experts agreed with us at the time."

Well, as far as Afghanistan, Gene Callahan and I knew what was up. I grant you, we didn't publish a joint op ed in the Wall Street Journal the day before the US invasion, but on September 6, 2006 I wrote:
Wasn't THAT Mission Accomplished a Long Time Ago??

Two things struck me about this USA Today article. First, the "biased liberal anti-American" media led me to believe that everything was fine in Afghanistan; this insurgency sort of came out of nowhere, as far as major media coverage. Second, notice that the general isn't saying, "We're going to pull out in six months." No, he's just saying that if they don't defeat the Taliban in 6 months, the locals won't support them. But our troops will still stick around, shooting and liberating.
Then in the comments, Gene said:
As I recall, the US troop death toll has risen every year since the invasion. I recall Ann Coulter stupidly squawking about [how] the US military was so much better than the Soviet's, because we "conquered" Afghanistan in a couple of weeks and they couldn't in ten years. She didn't seem to be aware that the USSR was not trying to conquer Afghanistan -- their puppet government was already in place! They were trying to crush a rebellion -- just like we are, and we're halfway to their total years already.
However, Gene doesn't get to take credit for this, as he elsewhere has disavowed any responsibility for his past writings (see comments here).

Last point: In that 2006 USA Today article (the link still works), the NATO commander said they needed to break the Taliban within 6 months if there were ever to be hope of winning. So, everyone's coming home now, right? We just need to email this link to the Pentagon to remind them?

Conquering Afghanistan has always been the easy part. It's holding on to it that has so far eluded all those who conquered it. The Mongols were the only ones not to have their sorry butts kicked by those hill people - but only because they called it quits before things got out of control.
A. How I argue with Democrat and Republican friends about the war:

1. With Democrats, I just mention the latest US caused civilian slaughter and they usually agree to ending the war without much of a fight.

2. With Republicans, I point out that the mission of the Federal government is to spread Democratic Socialism all over the world. Like in Detroit, which is such a success story. Then I ask them why do you Republicans want to turn Iraq or Afghanistan into Detroit? Throw in an explanation of blowback. Blaming their foreign meddling for the terrorist attacks and calling them pseudo-commies usually quiets the "you libertarian coward/surrender monkey" talk.

B. I note that the atrocity of the day is the bombing of some stolen fuel tankers by NATO jets killing scores of Afghan civilians trying to get a can of gas. But the outrages of the day are the naked drunken embassy guards and the AP photo of a dying marine (as opposed to outrage at the death of the marine due to idiotic policy decisions).
OK, if you are going to bash the wars in Iraq and Afganistan fine, but lets at least get the facts straight. First, the Pentagon did not make the choice to go to war, our elected officials did. Second, the Pentagon does not decide when a war is over, our elected officials do. Third, many of the high level military experts on the middle east who gave honest military plans for both wars were either ignored, resigned, or retired.
Fouth, in Jan 2004 a room of potential new Marines, of which I was one, was told by a high level intelligence officer that if every single male of fighting age in the United States was shipped to Iraq and Afganistan it would take seven years to accomplish the administrations stated objectives. With the current troop levels, time estimates were...he said he had no idea.

If you wish to bash the wars, please do so, but know that not one report or assessment I received ever even hinted at the message that either war would be short or easy. The only time I ever heard that kind of nonsense was from elected officals on TV.
Right now, Obama is trapped by his own campaign positions and the constant refrain from Democrats for the last 8 years- "Iraq War is bad because it distracted from the Afghan War".

I have never been able to explain to any liberal why his support of the Afghan War was just as nonsensical as Republican support for both (and actually more nonsensical because, at least, the Republicans were consistent in their stands).

I'm sorry, you're right that I shouldn't have said "the Pentagon." I guess it reassures me that the actual people who are being sent in there understood the difficulty of the task.

On the other hand, it's even more horrifying to know that the politicians are being advised on thing, and then go on TV and promise something else.
* ...are being advised ONE thing, and then go on TV and promise something else.
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