Friday, May 18, 2012

In War, There Are Goals and There Are Goals

Germany achieved its war goals on May 7, 1945 when it signed the instruments of surrender at Reims, France.   Germany's goal at that point was to end the war it had sparked six years earlier with the invasion of Poland.

There are countless books detailing Germany's war goals in 1939, and its war goals in 1940, and in 1941, 1942, 1943, and 1944 and again in 1945.    Suffice to say that, over those six years, Germany's goals expanded and then contracted.

Keep that in mind this weekend when NATO bigwigs meet to work out how to leave Afghanistan.  It sort of echoes in this comment from Obama National Security Advisor Tom Donilon:

"So Chicago is a critical milestone in the next step towards a responsible ending of this war, towards our achieving, very importantly, our goals in this effort in Afghanistan," Donilon said in his briefing on the NATO Summit.
Like Germany in WWII, our end of war goals bear little resemblance to our goals going into the Afghan war.   Our hopes of "achieving, very importantly, our [initial] goals" in Afghanistan were dashed years ago.   Democracy, liberty, human rights - failed.   Ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban - failed.   Exterminating al Qaeda - failed.

At this point it's not likely we'll have any clear statement of our exit goals.   At least we won't have to sign an instrument of surrender to stop fighting.

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