One of the most ruthless generals of the French Wars of Religion was Blaise de Monluc. Unlike our military’s modern-day cheerleaders, he had no illusions about the saintliness of his warriors and their commanders. “Acknowledging the atrocities of soldiers, he declared that princes carried a heavier load of sin, for ‘there is no evil in war of which they are not the cause.'” (TLS, September 25, 2009)
Yet dare to even entertain the idea that the American military is not always a force for good, and that the princely Stanley McChrystal, commander of the 100,000-strong US and Nato force in Afghanistan, is not omniscient and should never be made omnipotent with respect to the Afghanistan war—and you are unpatriotic.
Left and Right: this is the prevailing wisdom.
By now you’ve heard that, by Times’ telling, “300 insurgents swarmed out of a village and mosque and attacked a pair of isolated American outposts in a remote mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan with machineguns, rockets and grenades.
They first stormed the Afghan police post at the foot of the hill in the province of Nuristan, a Taleban and al-Qaeda stronghold on the lawless Pakistan border. They then swept up to the Nato post. The battle lasted all day. American and Afghan soldiers finally repelled them, with the help of US helicopters and warplanes — but at heavy cost.”
What does the fact that “Eight American soldiers and two Afghan policemen were killed,” and that the Taleban “captured 35 policemen whose fate would be decided by the movement’s provincial council” tell you?
To wit: One battalion “lost two soldiers, with three wounded, late on Friday when an Afghan policeman opened fire on his American colleagues during a joint operation to clear the Taleban from villages around the Nerkh valley.
US and Afghan investigators are trying to determine whether the policeman was a covert member of the Taleban or made a mistake. Either way, the attack fuelled the distrust that many Nato soldiers feel towards the Afghan security forces they are training as part of the coalition’s eventual exit strategy.
‘You don’t trust anybody, especially after an incident like this,’ said Specialist Raquime Mercer, 20, whose close friend died in the attack.”
Save your breath; Most Afghans have more affinity for the Taliban than for the democracy wielding Wilsonians.
Update I (Oct. 5): The Neocons-cum-Republicans, who have no principles other than to line up behind their man and against Obama, are cheering Gen McChrystal’s London sojourn to lobby for more troops. What’s next on the army commander’s media blitz? An appearance alongside McKenzie Philips on Larry King? Is there any aspect of American life that is not conducted in public or on camera?
It’s got to be obvious that the general knows nothing about the chain of command. He lacks discipline or a code of conduct. McChrystal’s a lobbyist in fatigues, guarding his fiefdom.
More importantly, Gen. David Petraeus conducted himself similarly. Although he didn’t lobby abroad for his cause, he assumed a decidedly political role. However, at the time, Republicans and their boy, Bush, were on board with Petraeus’ push for more war.
Update II: Diana West excerpts extensively from “From New Deal to New Frontier in Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State.” This is worth a read, as are most of Diana’s posts.
With respect to the Helmand-Valley project in Afghanistan, Diana has mined Prof. Cullather for the Money quote:
Nation-building did not fail in Afghanistan for want of money, time, or imagination. In the Helmand Valley, the engines and dreams of modernization had run their full course, spooling out across the desert until they hit limits of physics, culture, and history.
More good material via Myron, written by Jim Sauer, “a retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major and combat veteran with over thirty years of service. Since retiring he has worked in support of U.S. Government efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel”:
The hard fact is that the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan “people” are not for sale! The descendants of “The Great Khan” and their tribal cousins have no interest in being Westernized in any way. And, the human sewers that serve as their political leadership can only be rented. Americans are interlopers in a land where interlopers generally have their heads lopped off.