AP Photo: Some of the thousands of Afghans who protested an American strike on the Taliban/"civilian casulaties," East of Kabul, in January 2009. Admiral Mullen has ordered US forces to win their "trust." Idea: How's about if he goes first?
Afghanistan is already dubbed "Obama's War," but there's another possible father to this misbegotten conflict: David Kilcullen, the Australian former aide to Gen. Petraeus in Iraq.
(Kilcullen, of course, is infamous for the following, utterly mindless, equal parts stupid and putrid comment: "If I were a Muslim, I'd probably be a jihadist. The thing that drives these guys -- a sense of adventure, wanting to be part of the moment, wanting to be in the big movement of history that's happening now -- that's the same thing that drives me, you know?")
Kilcullen popped up in today's NYT, toward the end of yet another appalling story about US officials, including the new US ambassador to Afghanistan LTG Eikenberry (ret.), who have been snookered into going to war in Afghanistan ... in order to avoid "civilian casualties." You thought it was to "defeat" the Taliban and win one for our great ally in counter-jihad, the Afghan people (harhar)? Even that idiotic idea is now beside the point.
Avoiding civilian casualties is a curious war aim -- Kafka-esque, really. Indeed, surrealistically speaking, fighting a war to avoid civilian casualties is fighting forever because "victory" is always out of reach -- at least so long you use live ammo. (Now there's an idea for the Joint Cheifs to mull....)
Any way you cut it, it's a great way to keep the US military over-burdened, over-stressed and over-used -- and out of the country (which could be a boon to power-grabbing presidents). But such is the "strategy" designed to win Afghan hearts and minds. Oh, and sending along more stuff: As the NYT story also reports, that Afghan prez Karzai, in one area where an American aerial bombardment led to some unagreed upon # of civilian deaths, "also promised to rebuild the villagers' houses, to arrange for some of the survivors to go on the hajj to Mecca, and to build schools, clinics, and roads in the province."
Your tax dollars at work.
But back to Kilcullen. Quote:
General Eikenberry has returned to Afghanistan after serving two years in Brussels at the headquarters of NATO. “It is clear to me that if we don’t get this right, we do run the risk of alienating the Afghan people and creating what David Kilcullen has called the accidental guerrilla,” he said, referring to a counterinsurgency expert who has advised Gen. David H. Petraeus. “Unwittingly and unintentionally we are driving away the Afghan on the ground, we are driving them away and consequently weakening the Afghan government.”
OK. Let's review: According to the US braintrust, the fact that the US has poured men and materiel into Afghanistan for the past seven years to fight off the Taliban and still hasn't seen "the Afghan people" turn into life-long, loyal allies is no problem at all for the US at all. It simply means we need to do more to win their trust, as Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm Mike Mullen has psycho-babbled.
This, of course, is a total joke, a con job, and our leaders have fallen for it. In other words, if the Afghans were on our side, they would be, well, on our side. They would not be drive-away-able in the first place. In an Islamic country, in an Islamic milieu, however, it is no "accident," as Kilcullen will argue, that such Muslims become "guerillas" -- just as it is no "accident" that when they go on their US-taxpayer-funded hajj excursions, they just might run into some of their Taliban brethren.
But Kilcullen and his ilk like to stay away from all context. The Washington Post recently asked him:
What are the lessons of Iraq that most apply to Afghanistan?
I would say there are three. The first one is you've got to protect the population. Unless you make people feel safe, they won't be willing to engage in unarmed politics. The second lesson is, once you've made people safe, you've got to focus on getting the population on your side and making them self-defending.
When pigs will fly ....
And then a third lesson is, you've got to make a long-term commitment.
Lessons on how to achieve a Big, Fat Nothing for our deep and sorrowful trouble.