For a minute there I found a couple of areas where I agreed with Trump. I never really expected him to de-incentivize the outsourcing of American jobs so I guess there was really just one point of agreement – that we have to get our military out of Afghanistan and Iraq except for short term help in dislodging ISIS. Though I have no illusion that eliminating ISIS and al Qaeda would stop the next version from popping up. Continued regetful unintended killings of innocent civilians our hearts and prayers go out to their loved ones will is already getting choosing the font for the next mission statement.
Anyway, now he’s sending in more troops so we’re down to zero points of agreement. Well, I agree that an infrastructure project might be useful. And that we should open an umbrella when out in the rain.
There was a reason the Commander in Chief is, by law, a civilian. It’s that hammer thing. Give someone a hammer and every problem looks like a nail. The military is, by definition, a hammer. When war is declared the military is best equipped to know the best way to execute the agreed-upon strategy. They’ll know how troops, gear and transport systems are best utilized on any kind of terrain and, accordingly, what tactics are most likely to succeed against a particular enemy force.
But certain obvious biases are hardwired into the top brass. If you’re a career military person who’s very ambitious, very early in your career you might be fantasizing about being a four-star general. If you’re a four-star general, chances are you’re fantasizing about showing up in the history books as a Washington, Marshall or Eisenhower. You’re not going to make the books if there’s no opportunity to save the day for liberty. That requires a war. If the war doesn’t seal it, there has to be another war or three or else you’re just a framed photo somewhere at West Point. No, the bias doesn’t make you evil; just a homo sapiens.
That was always the creepy thing about Trump’s worship of “his” generals. He delivered to the hammer the Commander in Chief’s role of carpenter. And now a lot of America’s sons and daughters – none of Trump’s – will be thrown into the flame.
Trump’s new strategic angle – that he invented all by himself – is Obama’s angle about deleting the goal of nation-building. So Trump will have us staying until the Afghan army is capable of fighting off the Taliban. Once known as Vietnamization; a real winner. Apparently 16 years hasn’t been long enough to make them combat-ready and fully stoked with partriotic ferver.
That patriotic life-risking ferver is a challenge for a tribal society where corruption in every facet of government is the norm and a source of less-than-allegiance to that government. And it’s not clear that the population holds any kind of consensus about what and who exactly is part of that nation and who gets to demand who’s loyalty. Afghanistan is still a land mass divided into turfs controlled by competing warlords and shifting tribal allegiances.
There is no Valley Boy algorithm or US military war game likely to figure out where, why and when those allegiances shift. So to achieve any possibility of a lasting victory there has to be a political system that the entire nation would recognize as worthy of trust, pride and the will to protect. And the gullibility to imagine that the USA gives a damn about their long-, medium- or short-term interests. In order to make that happen so we can get the hell out of there some day, we would have to commit to a strategy called nation-building and and come up with a new name for it before leaking the plan.
The thousands of fresh American millenials we send there will be tasked with defeating a highly experienced fighting force that knows the terrain and how to navigate it with a deftness that no American could possibly match. And when our troops get a free minute or two, they have to go out and win the hearts and minds of people whose lives we – an invading and occupying force of foreign infidels – have been ripping to shreds for 16 years. Now, if we can just get them to believe that our hearts and prayers go out to the loved ones of those we’re about to accidentally kill…
— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, August 22, 2017
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