I have been catching the headlines about General McChrystal’s resignation. The President got rid of him for his various stupid remarks to the Rolling Stone magazine, as well as those of subordinates.
The general’s mouthing off might be the best development of late in that military action. From my view, the news has not been good out of Afghanistan since about the eighth or ninth week that the United States invaded.
Remember what the purpose was: find Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.
And what very quickly happened was that every other excuse came to bear on why the U.S. had to be in Afghanistan, and then why–for some reason–we couldn’t meet the main objectives of the engagement.
In war, waste is bad. Waste reduces your overall force, the ability to pound the enemy. But the feeling I get out of the permanent military establishment is that they are afraid that unless they keep coming up with excuses for the “engagement”, their own little war empire comes grinding to a halt. Either that, or these guys ‘ave got blinders on them so large that they aren’t making smart military decisions anymore.
The biggest set of blinders going seems to be the Shadow of Vietnam. Ever since the Republican Party began to politick the Vietnam conflict in the 1970’s, it has seemed like that party just itches for military engagement, somehow, somewhere. Not done on the cheap, but usually on credit. Using other mothers’ sons.
The idea of a reachable, concrete goal is never part of the plan. The idea of general, specific sacrifice isn’t either. (The sacrifice is usually a messing up of the economy, like the ’70’s inflation, or some other equal-sized disaster.) There’s just these generalities about how we have to keep “engaging the enemy” or there will be doom!
It’s the Shadow of Vietnam. America’s war clique lost an unwinnable one, and along came the myths about how if we only did it differently, things would have been fine. Or if we hadn’t fought the long slog, the Communists would have overrun the rest of Asia, etc., etc. None of this is ever challenged or questioned enough by the general public (because they’re left out of the really big sacrifices!)
So, in war, waste is bad. And what we seem to have in Afghanistan is a lot of waste, and top military officials who are unwilling to pull the plug. (Loss of face and loss of military portfolio.)
They aren’t going to catch bin Laden. That just hasn’t been part of the plan for the last nine years. They are just going to chase around these thug-bullies who operate under the cloak of radicalized Islam. And just like the unidentifiable “Charlie” (Viet Cong) in Vietnam, the enemy is going to come at us from the shadows, in all sorts of unique ways, that the military brass can then convene committees to study and prepare the sufficient countermeasures.
The latest talk has been about integrating into the Afghan community and getting to understand the people and the place. But this is all nonsense. The mission was to capture bin Laden because of what he did.
Since bin Laden wasn’t captured after nine years, I think the mission has to go down as a failure. So now two: Vietnam, and Afghanistan. Really, for the same stupid mistake about waste.