April 18, 2021


Afghanistan pullout - Reassessing how America fights wars (PAUL WALLIS, 4/18/21, Digital Journal)

 The pullout from Afghanistan has required some soul-searching of a rather unambiguous kind. America's record in guerrilla wars is abysmal. Despite military "success" in some ways, strategic aims are routinely not met. [...]

Objectives and results

If you look at the objectives and obvious prerequisites of the war in Afghanistan and the wider regional aspects, what were they?
1. Eliminate Al Qaeda. Done to a reasonable extent. On the global scale, they've been eclipsed.
2. Eliminate Bin Laden. Done after a few years.
3. Eliminate the Taliban. Not done at all thanks to cross-border support.
4. Eliminate the sources of the attacks on America and the West in general. Done to a debatable point.
5. Manage the military and guerrilla warfare environment on the ground in Afghanistan. Not done on a routine basis except locally.
6. Improve the human condition of Afghanistan after a 40-year war. Not done at all. Even the basic issues of north/south and Pashtun interests weren't really considered.
7. "Hearts and minds" operations - These operations never work, and always ignore the brutal coercion of the civil population. This also happened in Vietnam and Iraq. If you simply said, "We're trying to give you back your country", it'd make a lot more sense to people in war zones.
8. Casualties - Too high for too long, and unnecessary, caused mainly by the insistence of "boots on the ground", whether required or not.
9. Boost American credibility in the Middle East and South Asia in a regional Middle Eastern strategy. Not achieved. Thanks to things like Blackwater and other bizarre "accessories", US credibility has been tarnished, badly.
10. Find a solution to this type of warfare. Not done, and repeating many of the mistakes of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

As the removal of the Taliban, Ba'ath and ISIS "governments" demonstrated, we have ample capacity to deny power to anti-liberal regimes. We can afford the peoples who are trapped under their rule with an opportunity to rebuild their nations along more democratic lines.  But we can not do the building for them if they are not bought in and our very presence seems to make them too dependent on us to do the building.  

Meanwhile, what is and always has been the greatest challenge of guerilla warfare? Locating the enemy.  Paradoxically then, the key to defeating these enemies is to trick them into taking power, as Barrack Obama did (intentionally or not) in the "Caliphate."  You can't both exert government-like control over a territory and remain hidden.  All you've really done is made target acquisition easy for us.  

Posted by at April 18, 2021 8:26 AM