On War #164
The Other War
By William S. Lind
As rising U.S. and NATO casualty counts attest, the war in Afghanistan is heating up. It is doing so on Afghan time, which is to say slowly. When you have all the time in the world, why hurry?
An April 7, 2006 study by the London-based Senlis Council, “Insurgency in the Provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Nangahar,” paints a somewhat alarming picture. I do not know who or what the Senlis Council represents, or what axes it may grind. The style of the report suggests English is not the first language of those who wrote it. But facts are still facts, and its report tracks with what I’ve seen elsewhere. The study states:
Speaking of all three provinces, the study says in its Executive Summary:
At the core of this failure by the U.S., NATO and the Afghan government is a common and often fatal military phenomenon: conflicting objectives. On the one hand, the U.S. and its allies want to defeat the Taliban and other “terrorists.” But at the same time, they also want to stop opium production. If the Senlis Council’s analysis is accurate, attempts to pursue the second objective are pushing us away from attaining the first.
Looking at Helmand province, the report says:
The situation in the other two provinces is similar. Speaking of Kandahar province, the report states:
Determining strategic objectives, and ensuring that those objectives are not contradictory, is the job of the most senior level of command, in this case the White House. By demanding that U.S. and allied troops pursue two conflicting objectives simultaneously, the Bush administration has created a no-win situation. Efforts to defeat the Taliban only work if they can gain the support of the rural population, but poppy eradication pushes the rural population toward the Taliban and its allies. (One could add a third incompatible objective, promoting women’s rights in a conservative Islamic culture.)
President George W. Bush likes to say, “I’m the decider; I decide.” The role of being the “decider” includes making sure that decisions are logically consistent. Mr. Bush is, from that perspective, a failed “decider” in Afghanistan. He failed similarly in deciding to invade Iraq as part of a global war against “terrorism,” when the destruction of the Iraqi state proved, predictably, to work in favor of the “terrorists.” He is failing yet again in picking quarrels with Russia and China when we need an all-states alliance against anti-state forces.
President Harry S. Truman said, “The buck stops here,” in the Oval Office. When it comes to deciding on strategic objectives, President George W. Bush has torn the buck into confetti and tossed it to the winds of chance.
William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation
Word document available upon request.
To interview Mr. Lind, please contact:
Phyllis Hughes ()
The Free Congress Foundation, is a 28-year-old Washington, DC-based conservative educational foundation (think tank) that teaches people how to be effective in the political process, advocates judicial reform, promotes cultural conservatism, and works against the government encroachment of individual liberties.