Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Campaign Against Taliban Not Working

The only surprise is who in his right mind thought it would?   In case you haven't heard, there's a big operation underway in Afghanistan to batter the Taliban, hoping that will nudge them into a peace deal with Karzai.   And this time it's the brainchild of David Petraeus, America's counterinsurgency guru himself.

David Petraeus may be at the wheel but it's the same old, clapped out car we've been driving about for the past nine years.   Even General David can't make this car run right.

This whole offensive is a military campaign against an enemy that has steadfastly refused to fight a military war.    What do they do when the tanks and attack helicopters come after them?   Easy, they bugger off.   They go and find a place to lay low so that they can come back at a time and place of their choosing.  From the Washington Post:

"Escalated airstrikes and special operations raids have disrupted Taliban movements and damaged local cells. But officials said that insurgents have been adept at absorbing the blows and that they appear confident that they can outlast an American troop buildup set to subside beginning next July.

"The insurgency seems to be maintaining its resilience," said a senior Defense Department official involved in assessments of the war. Taliban elements have consistently shown an ability to "reestablish and rejuvenate," often within days of routed by U.S. forces, the official said, adding that if there is a sign that momentum has shifted, "I don't see it."

The Talibs are the grand masters at this game.  They know one of their big advantages is one that doesn't cost money or lives.   It's time.  Time is on their side, not ours.  We're the foreigners, they're the home team.

Time for us is a huge vulnerability, especially those years we've squandered that never were ours to waste.   In this sort of war, time is a sponge that soaks up both our treasure and our soldiers' lives.  Worse, on the ground time is a deal-changer.  As Petraeus said long before he went to Iraq, our side has a limited shelf life before we go from liberator/defender to occupier/oppressor in the locals' minds.  You've got to get in, make things happen, and get out.  We haven't done any of that.  We had our chance and we blew it.  End of story.

We've been outplayed and it's about time to swallow that bitter pill.  We didn't fight their war, the only one that mattered, we fought ours.   We're still fighting our war and we're not putting a dent in the bad guys.  After nine years we might as well accept that our war doesn't work in places like Afghanistan.   For nine years we've been trying the same thing over and over, each time expecting a different result.   What do they call that, insanity?

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