JOHN BERNARD: THE SPECTER OF SUCCESS IN COIN….BUT FOR WHOM?
Juxtaposition is a literary expression of the side-by-side positioning of incongruent terms or ideas. Politics and culture seem to do this as a matter of the normal transaction of day to day business; suggesting that certain ideas or arguments make a point that is polar opposite. Most of the thinking population would describe these attempts to bolster support for an ideal or an idea, deceitful. I would agree but there is something even more devious about this tactic in that while it may be successful in convincing an audience to think or believe a certain way, the real danger is to the wielder of this tactic. At some point they become oblivious to their own act of deceit and begin to believe their own garbage or at least justify it as a must, to meet an “honorable” end.
Curious: If one must lie to achieve a specific goal; can that goal really be considered honorable?
There was a Country and Western song which loosely quoted Alexander Hamilton; “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. Sadly it has become daily commentary for a government obsessed with compromise which equals giving in on a principle, equals the shedding of truth and honor, equals leadership that is, well, compromised. While the dealing of politics and business in DC may generally lead to some not-so-great legislation that could adversely affect business, savings accounts and our posterity, these things pale in comparison to the decisions (or lack thereof) that directly affect the lives of a small percentage of this population, here and now; our Military.
This political season which will end 1 year and 5 months from now and deliver us our next President, has already compromised on national security. In doing so it has also compromised the lives of the men in our Armed Forces serving on an active battlefield in the midst of a yet unidentified enemy that doesn’t seem to be suffering from the same inability to identify us as his enemy. And like pawns deemed expendable in a chess game played by a novice, our Marines and Soldiers continue to be placed side by side with people who deem us an enemy based on the teachings of their deity.
The proponents of COIN doctrine have continued to suggest over, and over again, that there is a component of Afghan society, friendly to us and sharing of our political vision for that country. They are so convinced of this they have been willing to place the Sons and Daughters of this generation shoulder to shoulder with members of Afghanistan’s current generation while denying them what every conventional military has used for 6 millennia; fear and force and the will to use them to force our will on the enemy while preserving the lives of their military.
The soft skinned, three-piece suited, environmentally air-conditioned members of Congress and the White House, seem to be equally content to leave our men and women in uniform exposed to the ‘non-existent’ dangers from the ‘unidentified enemy’, as well. After all, there are far more difficult things to consider like, the debt ceiling, taxes, the shenanigans of Rupert Murdoch’s empire and of course; the coming election. Of course the “watchdog” media is obsessed with the trial of a young woman in Florida, the possible paring of a young starlet and a Marine at the Marine Corps Ball, the Prince and Princess of another country and any number of other truly meaningless events. To say the media, DC and the general public is now completely numb to the plight of the average Warrior abandoned on the battlefield in Afghanistan is really just stating the obvious but even the British are now angered by the apparent waste of their blood and treasure.
Success has apparently been defined and met in Afghanistan, by this administration which announced it will begin a draw down starting this month which will reach 30,000 in time for the election, this coming year. Of course one man’s success is another’s abysmal failure but when all of the media and all of the statistical experts are in your corner, it is easy to craft a story that is supportive of your claim to success – regardless of the actual evidence to the contrary. I won’t delineate the “evidence” used by this Administration or Congress to back their claims, just watch the news.
I would like to suggest that 1400 years of ideological history and the nearly 5000 years of habitation there paint a picture of a people who are not going to change their minds or their ways and are certainly not going to “westernize” nor become fast friends with us. The past ten years, excluding the first 6 months, have shown us that trying to convince the citizenry there of our majestic vision for their future has met with mixed reviews – at best. At worst, it has cost the lives of hundreds dead and thousands disfigured; physically and mentally. The trend toward an anti-American and anti-ISAF culture there seems to be growing – not subsiding. Consider the events of just a week:
1. The weekend of 09 July 2011, two Americans, one Iowan National Guardsman and a civilian contractor are gunned down by an Afghan National Intelligence Service who also wounded another Guardsman before being killed himself. The debacle that followed including angry local Afghan’s surrounding the unit, nearly ended with more Americans being killed.
2. 12 July 2011, Ahmed Wali Karzai, half brother of Afghan president, is killed by a “trusted confidant”. My entire interest in Afghanistan revolves around just two issues; first that those who would do this country harm are dealt with – finally and second for the welfare of our Warriors. Karzai’s brother and family welfare don’t make my list of concerns but one has to ask just how this fits the Petraeus/Obama model of success?
3. 13 July 2011, 5 French Service Members are killed by a suicide bomber on the very day that Karzai is in Kandahar to mourn his brother’s death (can it actually be considered murder if an Afghan Islamic Soldier kills an apparent apostate?)
4. 14 July 2011, in an apparent violation of a “gentlemen’s agreement” within the religious community there that tolerate/respect the wearing of Turbans by some members in the Mosque, a member killed 3 Imams and wounded 15 others by detonating a bomb hidden in his turban.
5. 16 July 2011, another as yet unidentified NATO Soldier is killed by a member of the Afghan National Army. Of course, ISAF was quick to suggest he might just be “someone” wearing the uniform but Taliban spokesmen were clear he was not one of them. The dirt-bag ran away after killing the soldier.
6. 16 July 2011, yet another NATO soldier was killed – in his quarters, by an Afghan National Soldier who the Taliban claim was a sleeper agent….Sleeper agent or not; the vetting/non-vetting process cleared this dirt-bag for service and now one more soldier will not be returning home to his family.
I want to thank M.J. Green’s tireless efforts in ‘cataloguing’ these latest pieces of evidence “chronicling COIN success” – at least as defined by this administration. I would also like to suggest you all read a piece by Andrew Bostom which provides some insight into the “success” story in Iraq. He provides not only a glimpse at the preposterousness of the continued suggestion that COIN has changed anything there but a look at the British history there and their perspective from their attempt, in the 1930’s.
In addition; please stop by Diana West’s Blog to read her perspective on these and other interesting details that seem to not be included in the equation of Strategic success; operating under COIN in a predominately Muslim culture and as defined by Politicians.
It is important to keep what our political establishment considers success in mind as we delve ever deeper into the “evolutionary” processes of other Muslim nations across the region because what they have deemed successful in Iraq and Afghanistan will be tried in other areas.
Our Warriors will continue to be tasked with the whims of the ignorant in DC and will continue to pay a price.
Are you now ready to demand change from your elected officials or are you satisfied with these weekly tallies which define success; for the enemy, yet unidentified?
Our Warriors are waiting…..
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