There's a line in Andrew Bacevich's book The New American Militarism to describe America's decade long Vietnam misadventure not as a ten-year war but as a one-year war fought ten times. That seems like an apt metaphor for our nine-year and counting war in Afghanistan.
US commander, uber-General David Petraeus seems to think so. In fact, it's that sort of logic that forms the basis of his recent remarks that progress in Afghanistan is going to take time. From Associated Press:
"...Progress in Afghanistan only began this spring and needs time to take root, Army Gen. David Petraeus said in comments broadcast Sunday that were aimed at shoring up American support for the war.
Petraeus said in the interview that the war only recently has been given the right "inputs," or resources: more U.S. and Afghan troops to take over Taliban territory and more civilians to restore services to the population.
"There is understandable concern and, (in) some cases, frustration," Petraeus said. "Therefore we have got to really put our shoulders to the wheel and show during the course of this year that progress can be achieved."
Petraeus described Afghanistan as a tough and enduring fight that would require its "character and its size being scaled down over the years." If the U.S. loses, there would likely be a bloody civil war followed by a takeover by extremists. If the U.S. succeeds and Afghanistan stabilizes, the country could become the region's new "Silk Road" with the potential to extract trillions of dollars worth of minerals, he said."
Sorry, Dave, but Afghanistan has already turned into a "bloody civil war." It transitioned from insurgency to civil war when the Taliban began occupying territory and establishing their own administration with security, law enforcement and judicial functions. As for all that mineral wealth, why are the Chinese locking up the rights to that stuff while the West is doing all the fighting? Silk Road, my arse.
"...But the goal is not to turn Afghanistan into an industrialized democracy, he said. Even if the nation relies heavily on tribal councils for governance, the central government in Kabul could still run the nation effectively without influence from extremist groups such as al-Qaida."
So, in essence, Petraeus is saying that the Bush/Cheney regime and the Pentagon that so duly served its every whim were just screwing around for the first seven years of this miserable war, not giving the conflict the "right inputs or resources." Curious we didn't hear anything about that from the Pentagon all those years. Curious the Canadian Parliament wasn't getting that warning from the guy who ought to have known up here, Rick "Big Cod" Hillier.
One of the disturbing aspects of 21st century Western militarism is the utter lack of accountability at the highest echelons, military and political. In today's "long wars", winning often becomes a function of not losing until you can fob the war off on your successor, make it "his" war to lose. If there was ever a formula for war without end, that's it. It's waging war simply to fight, not to win. Yet despite the treasure and lives squandered in this folly, no one is held accountable for it. Breathtaking.