Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quotes of the Day -- Afghanistan

I think it was Tux who pointed out that nobody - not the British, not the Soviets, not the Romans - nobody, except Ghengis Khan has ever had military success as a foreign invader in Afghanistan.  And GK's marginal success only came because he was willing to engage in slaughter, wholesale or individually, whatever it took.  

Actually, it was Tamerlane.  The search function works at Tux's place.

But Tamerlane had some advantages we don't have. Tamerlane had no logistics tail -- none. He fed his armies by seizing the food, weapons, and supplies of the peoples he conquered, who no longer needed it because they were, err, dead. Tamerlane was not put off by squeamish notions of killing women and children. If a province defied Tamerlane, he simply turned it into an unpeopled wasteland without bothering to try to kill only combatants. He was by all accounts possessed of an amount of viciousness that make even the Taliban look like Boy Scouts, an amount of viciousness that no army of a would-be democracy could ever countenance because it would repulse too many taxpayers.

Well - that's harsh.  But the reality of Afghanistan is and always has been harsh.

Here's a comment by reporter Chuck Spinney on a current assessment "from an email written by an active duty colonel who travels all over Afghanistan."

[I vetted the colonel's email thru a retired Army officer, and he responded: "I talk to Soldiers and Marines of most ranks on a weekly basis, many of whom have just returned from Afghanistan. Not one says we are winning. They think Afghanistan is a waste of our time. Why doesn't anyone listen to the guys that know? Ivory-tower intellectuals in think tanks get listened to, but they are not walking the ground as a grunt or a combat arms dude."]

Just to be clear, the "Ivory -tower intellectuals" referred to are right winger neocon types, a la the WSJ.

Wasted time, money, political capital, and most tragically, people's lives.  Who gains?  Well, if you need help figuring that out. go read the article.
H/T to the LW.


Dave said...

Fastest way to stop the war is to re-start the draft. When a few of the neo-con offspring gets killed they will be begging the Repukians to stop the war. The only reason to be there now is to subsidize the military industrial complex.

Jazzbumpa said...

Dave -

You're absolutely right. It all fits. We are basically fighting stealth wars with expensive equipment and a very small percentage of the population having any direct involvement. But those that are involves have multiple tours of duty.

A draft would involve the general population, and more people would have family members in harms way.

My older step son has been to the middle east so many times I've lost count. He's a behind-the-scenes guy in the USAF, but no place over there is safe.

My 58-yr-old brother-in law is in Kuwait. He's an army chaplain.

Your final sentence nails it.


BadTux said...

When parents want to scare their children here in the USA, they evoke Santa Claus and how he's not gonna bring them toys if they're not good. When parents want to scare their children in the region around Afghanistan, they evoke Tamerlane and warn, "Tamerlane's going to get you." The dude made an impression. Over 600 years later, folks in the region still fear his memory.

The U.S. military is violent (duh) and kills a lot of civilians via "collateral damage", but compared to Tamerlane, they're Girl Scouts peddling cookies. There's no way to "win" in Afghanistan other than the Tamerlane way, and even if the U.S. population could somehow be scared into believing that each and every Afghan was trying to kill Americans and thus was fair game for killin' (don't laugh, read WW2 propaganda posters, which made that exact point about Japs and Huns), there wouldn't be any profit for the oligarchy in doing it the Tamerlane way because once you've turned Afghanistan into a depopulated wasteland, then what? Tamerlane's "then what?" was to settle his non-warriors into the depopulated lands and make them his own while his warriors went out searching for yet more loot, slaves, and land. But somehow I doubt that there's a large number of Americans looking for a new land to live in...

- Badtux the Practical Penguin