This is a picture of Taliban fighters on a hillside at Maydan Shahr in Wardak province. That's west of Kabul, in case that helps.
My brain teaser of the day is, Should the US military kill them? In other words, how dangerous are these eight men, armed and turbaned, to the United States of America? How much is it worth to the United States of America to rid the planet of them? My military sources recently shared this following note of incredulity from Afghanistan on this very subject:
As far as BDA [battle damage assessment] goes, check this one out. 2 GBU 36's [bomblets] dropped the other day on estimated 6 guys!!!! That is half a million $$$ on 6 guys!!!! I wonder how many 50.cal rounds have been fired from sniper rifles here? I can guarantee you that it hasn't come close to half a million $$ worth in the entire country!!!
Apparently, we are getting a lot of bang for a lot of bucks--but not much else. Of course, if killing Taliban fighters on hillsides in Afghanistan is in the best interest of the US, I'm all for it. But I'm not convinced it is--certainly not as part of the overall strategy as conceived first by the Bush administration and now tweaked by the Obama administration to turn Afghanistan into a functioning state capable of warding off what is euphmistically and opaquely known as "extremism," "man-caused disasters" or "overseas contigency operations" but is in fact bona fide jihad to advance the spread of sharia (Islamic law). Anybody remember Sisyphus? Well, trying to change Afghanistan into an anti-jihad, anti-sharia enthusiast--let alone Western-functioning nation--is like trying to roll Sisyphus' rock up the hill.
My lack of confidence in this overall strategy is the subtext, certainly, of this week's column. The point is not that there is no war to fight, no enemies to fight, as the Left and Paleo-right would say; there most certainly are. The point is that sinking all possible men and materiel into Afghanistan to nation-build an Islamic culture into a pro-Western one (while simultaneously fighting Taliban and wading deep into treacherous Pakistani affairs and wars) is not the way to victory. In fact, it is the best way to bleed and further degrade US military capabilities. If I were a nefarious jihad chieftain, I can't imagine a better strategy than to tie up America's best young men in a grueling and open-ended war of hide and seek in the North West Frontier....
My fellow conservatives will say: But withdrawing from Afghanistan will give sanctuary to terrorists including Al Qaeda! My answer is that sanctuaries for terrorists including Al Qaeda exist all over the world, from Iran to London to . But it will embolden the terrorists! Frankly, I can't imagine anything more emboldening than the disgusting, shameful spectacle of Barack Obama bowing in deference to the oil-garch of Arabia--except maybe serving up Israel on a platter to its jihadist foes...and except maybe exhausting US capabilities indefinitely in Af-pak, as they now say.
My military sources tell me that the threats posed by those men on the hillside can be contained without basing our army in Afghanistan--a logistical nightmare, by the way, given the remote and vast terrain. They say the US can attack as needed from outside Afghanistan without an army occupying the country indefinitely. OK. I trust them on that. But there's something else to consider here--a new and vital line of defense. Look at those eight men in the picture again. They, and others like them, pose zero threat to the United States unless they actually come here. Remember, Osama bin Laden didn't launch missiles at the Twin Towers from Afghanistan; his mainly Saudi jihadists cleared US customs, took up residence, and, later checked in as passengers for the commercial flights they then hijacked and turned into WMD aimed at our people. During this national emergency--and the deployment of so much of our military into war zones necessarily marks this as a time of national emergency--we must take measures to halt, or, at the very, very least, severely curtail immigration and travel from the war zones--namely, the countries that support jihad and the extension of sharia. We should, of course, do it anyway unless we want to see demographics for jihad and sharia grow into political power bases.
Dream on? I'm afraid so. George W. Bush never even closed our porous southern border, and now Barack "Bow Down to Arabia " Obama is in power, tilting even more sharply toward the Muslim world than Saudi-cosy Bush. But if we survive this term at all intact, we have to realize that our border is our first line of defense.
Meanwhile, I sure hope the United States has a serious plan to rid Af-pak of the genuine regional threat to us: Pakistani nukes.