Wednesday, May 05, 2010

More Snake Oil on Afghanistan

More bullshit from yet another Canadian general, this time Lt.-Gen. Marc Lessard.

According to the head of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, we still have the ability to get the upper hand on the Taliban in southern Afghanistan before we fold our tents in 2011.

Say what? How do you get the upper hand on insurgents when for them merely to survive is to win? Does Commandant Lessard (oh, sorry - that was the character from the Police Academy movies) believe we're going to wipe them out by then? Hardly.

Lessard's optimism was slightly conditional. He added that truly reaching a turning point now hinges on Afghan leadership, civilian and military. You mean that's all that stands between victory over the insurgents and utter failure - the Karzai government and Afghanistan's wobbly military? Well that's certainly a piece of cake for one side, just maybe not our side.

According to a map prepared by ISAF just two months ago there's not a single district, not one, that can be considered to actually support the Karzai government although there are a few that are rated as 'somewhat sympathetic' to Kabul. Even by ISAF's assessment, however, there are several districts that are Taliban supporters and many more sympathetic to the insurgency while many more districts, including those most hotly contested by Western forces, are labelled "neutral."

I don't know, maybe Lessard hasn't seen the map. As for the Afghan's leading the military effort, the Toronto Star had this observation:

U.S. officers on the ground, meanwhile, told Reuters this week that a shortage of effective Afghan military leaders recently forced the cancellation of a major helicopter assault involving hundreds of American and Afghan troops. The operation, due to take place in March and repeatedly postponed, was cancelled outright last week.

“It wasn’t Afghan enough … approval was denied,” a U.S. Army officer with knowledge of the plans told Reuters. “The implication is that Afghans are in the lead. The bottom line is we’re nowhere near the stage where they can be in the lead.”


LK said...

Can't we teach them any faster?

The Mound of Sound said...

No, we can't teach them fast enough to cover their rate of desertion. Worse yet, we've never found an effective solution to Afhganistan's vexing tribalism.

The country has five major ethnic groups - Tajik, Turkmen, Pashtun, Uzbek and Hazara - everything from persian to south asian to east asian. Their natural instinct is to break apart into ethnic militias which is what I suspect will happen once we leave.

When the West arrived in Afghanistan it was a country mired in ethnic-based, civil war. We drove one side out, the Talibs, but they're back. I think they've grown well past the insurgency stage into the civil war stage, indicated by them holding territory and establishing alternate government and judicial systems.

In other words we're handing them back their unresolved civil war. That's how much good we've done to that country.

Anonymous said...

I told you so.... almost a decade ago...

LeDaro said...

How do we know that the ones we do train are on our side?

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm not sure you told me anything a decade ago, CWTF. As you're aware I've been down on this Western clusterfuck from the outset. And LD, the answer to your question is relatively easy. Those we train who are on our side won't be the guys shooting us in the back when we pack up and leave.

LeDaro said...

The reason I raise it because some already have. There are constantly shifting loyalties.

They work for Taliban on poppy fields. Once the poppy season is over they get some military training in order to get paid. Some have turned around and shot NATO soldiers here and there - may be they were not wearing soldier uniform when they did the shooting.

The Mound of Sound said...

I understand what you're saying LD. Loyalties in Afghanistan are, let's just say "complex." Our failure, at the outset, to rid that country of its warlord power structure ruined our chances of establishing a stable state. Government corruption and the narco-economy are even more insurmountable hurdles.

The Americans know there's never been a successful, stable Muslim state that didn't first overcome tribalism and warlordism. We haven't even attempted to dismantle either of those, thereby inviting our own failure.

And then we get generals like Lessard prattling on like pre-schoolers about "turning the corner".