Saturday, December 5, 2009

This Will End Badly

It's hard to see how there can ever be a successful conclusion to a war like this. At least from our point of view.

The United States, and what's left of our allies, really have only one advantage. We have technological arms superiority. We have tanks, and planes, and bombs, and fancy missiles. We even have nuclear weapons.

The problem is that we really can't use any of these weapons. They were designed for use in large scale, nation versus nation conventional warfare. They are useless against an insurgency which fights using guerilla tactics. And in a conflict in which we are supposedly winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, the collateral damage which these weapons would cause is politically unacceptable as well.

So we find ourselves fighting on the Taliban's terms, with similar weapons, in terrain which is hostile to us (but friendly to them), and at the cost of $1 million per soldier per year. I'm not sure what the Taliban's cost per soldier is, but it's a heck of a lot less than that. And they have an endless supply of them, while we are sending 30,000 more troops to a conflict which needs, according to the Army's own assessment, another 4-500,000 troops.

And what is the goal? CIA estimates that there are fewer than 100 Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. The rest are spread around the globe. Fighting a conventional war against a transnational terrorist group, which has real and legitimate problem with United States foreign policy, is ludicrous. Unless we are prepared to invade every country on earth, we are not going to solve the problem this way.

The United States has two choices.

It can continue on its chosen foreign policy path (invasions and occupations of Muslim lands, support for tyrannical, authoritarian regimes which oppress Muslims, unconditional support for Israel), and just accept the security consequences of radicalizing an increasing percentage of the world's second largest religion. There is an excellent possibility that this will eventually result in the detonation of a nuclear weapon in a major US city, but maybe we feel that this is an acceptable price to be paid for cheap oil and the continued congressional campaign contributions of the Israeli lobby.

Or we can withdraw from Muslim lands, stop supporting the likes of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and cut Israel loose, requiring it to bear the burden of its immoral and illegal wars and expansion.

But sending another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan will not make a damn bit of difference.

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