Thursday, January 23, 2020
Blog
Apr 15

Written by: Diana West
Friday, April 15, 2011 1:01 AM 

This week's syndicated column:

Reading about another catastrophically maimed casualty of the counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) in Afghanistan, I was struck by a biographical note. This young American, now a triple amputee after stepping on an IED while on foot patrol, an integral feature of COIN's hearts-and-minds efforts, was only 11 years old when the war in Afghanistan began.

Come October, this war will have lasted a decade. Last month, the Iraq War passed the eight-year mark. During the Vietnam War, the question was whether there was any "light at the end of the tunnel." In these wars, we have to wonder whether there is any tunnel. If so, no one seems to be in any hurry to get out.

Why? Why is it that we have come to accept war without end -- not to mention, I would (and do) argue, war without benefit? And why does it actually seem as though our leaders want it this way?

There are reasons and they are shocking.

Watching Defense Secretary Gates in Iraq recently where he practically begged to leave U.S. forces in place after the scheduled pullout in December 2011, Jed Babbin, I think, nailed it. Writing in the American Spectator, Babbin guessed that President Obama just doesn't want Iraq to fall apart, at least not on the eve of the 2012 election. Ditto Afghanistan. And falling apart -- I would call it reverting to type -- is the inevitable result of U.S. withdrawal. "Who lost Iraq and Afghanistan?" is not a question Obama wants to get into during the election. Thus, Obama will slog on with COIN, maintaining his weirdly logical wartime alliance with the neoconservative, democracy-project Right. On Obama's part, this is a political calculation, pure and simple. On the Right, something else is going on.

The fact is, so long as we are still in Iraq, still in Afghanistan, the policy born of neoconservatism's lights, embraced by nation-building Bushies, promulgated and entrenched by Gen. David Petraeus, still has a theoretical chance of working. A constant refrain from these camps is that prematurely withdrawing from either country would jeopardize what Petraeus has dubbed for more than four years "fragile and reversible" security gains. To them, staying forever is leaving too soon. It isn't so much that in withdrawal lies defeat; it's that in withdrawal lies confirmation of the defeat of their prized COIN strategy. In the strategy's defeat lies the abyss.

And so they must keep reality at bay. And they do that by keeping Iraq and Afghanistan a work in progress. As such, it is up to our troops to try harder to win "hearts and minds," walk more IED-strewn patrols, distribute more cash to make "them" like us, adopt more Shariah practices in dealing with Islam (as literally suggested by ISAF). In this way, the COINdinistas are hamster-footing it to keep the ride from stopping at any cost.

That's their prerogative, but only until someone finds the courage to fire them. That won't happen until people connect the human toll of these wars -- ROE-related combat deaths, IED casualties, frequent unfriendly fire murders -- with dead-end COIN strategy. It's no secret. In a recent report on new military medical statistics that reveal a horrific spike in multiple amputations and genital injuries due to IEDs in Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times noted: "Troops are increasingly vulnerable to injuries from such makeshift bombs as they mount foot patrols in an effort to win support from Afghan villagers, a key strategy in the counterinsurgency campaign."

Either our representatives are as deeply vested in "success" as the military brass is, or they're too timid to demand answers. Just look what happened when Rep. Walter Jones, R-NC, expressed his frustration about war unending to Gen. Petraeus last month. "You know, 15, 16, 17 years, for God sakes, how much more can we take, how much more can we give treasure and blood?" asked Jones. Petraeus won the day by announcing, to great but irrelevant effect, that his own son had completed his first Afghanistan tour in November.

"I don't think you win this war," Petraeus is quoted as saying in Bob Woodward's last book Obama's Wars. "I think you keep fighting. ... This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives."

This "kind of fight" -- COIN -- needs to stop, if only for the 11-year-olds.

Tags:
Archive
<January 2020>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2930311234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930311
2345678
Monthly
January, 2020
December, 2019
November, 2019
October, 2019
September, 2019
August, 2019
July, 2019
June, 2019
May, 2019
April, 2019
March, 2019
February, 2019
January, 2019
December, 2018
November, 2018
October, 2018
September, 2018
August, 2018
July, 2018
June, 2018
May, 2018
April, 2018
March, 2018
February, 2018
January, 2018
December, 2017
November, 2017
October, 2017
September, 2017
August, 2017
July, 2017
June, 2017
May, 2017
April, 2017
March, 2017
February, 2017
January, 2017
December, 2016
November, 2016
October, 2016
September, 2016
August, 2016
July, 2016
June, 2016
May, 2016
April, 2016
March, 2016
February, 2016
January, 2016
December, 2015
November, 2015
October, 2015
September, 2015
August, 2015
July, 2015
June, 2015
May, 2015
April, 2015
March, 2015
February, 2015
January, 2015
December, 2014
November, 2014
October, 2014
September, 2014
August, 2014
July, 2014
June, 2014
May, 2014
April, 2014
March, 2014
February, 2014
January, 2014
December, 2013
November, 2013
October, 2013
September, 2013
August, 2013
July, 2013
June, 2013
May, 2013
April, 2013
March, 2013
February, 2013
January, 2013
December, 2012
November, 2012
October, 2012
September, 2012
August, 2012
July, 2012
June, 2012
May, 2012
April, 2012
March, 2012
February, 2012
January, 2012
December, 2011
November, 2011
October, 2011
September, 2011
August, 2011
July, 2011
June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011
February, 2011
January, 2011
December, 2010
November, 2010
October, 2010
September, 2010
August, 2010
July, 2010
June, 2010
May, 2010
April, 2010
March, 2010
February, 2010
January, 2010
December, 2009
November, 2009
October, 2009
September, 2009
August, 2009
July, 2009
June, 2009
May, 2009
April, 2009
March, 2009
February, 2009
January, 2009
December, 2008
November, 2008
October, 2008
September, 2008
August, 2008
July, 2008
June, 2008
May, 2008
April, 2008
March, 2008
February, 2008
January, 2008
December, 2007
November, 2007
October, 2007
September, 2007
August, 2007
Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use
Copyright 2012 by Diana West