A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
As much as I dislike doing this, I am going to offer President Obama some sound advice, which I fully expect him to totally ignore. That advice is: “Get the hell out of Afghanistan!”
Just recently I published a piece, on my own blog, by my friend, Alan Caruba, calling for the same thing. Getting US troops out of Afghanistan is just another thing Alan and I agree on.
Maybe it is a generational thing. Both Alan and myself were in the military during the Vietnam War and both of us experienced what the wrong war in the wrong place can do to a military and to a country and we don’t want to see our country go through that again.
Having said all of the above, I fully expect President Obama to maintain US troops in Afghanistan and stand-by as they are chewed-up by twos and threes until, we have a death toll of Americans rivaling that of the Vietnam debacle.
Here’s the thing. We cannot win in Afghanistan.
I am a realist. I look at the facts and choose my position on a subject based upon those facts. I do not interject optimism into my decision-making in so far as taking a position or forming an opinion. When one does that and applies that process to the war effort in Afghanistan one can come up with only one inescapable truth -- and that is, we cannot win in Afghanistan.
This is not defeatism. Understand that. Of COURSE, the American military could, fairly easily, wipe that country off the map in short order. But, what would we have gained? As far as I can see, nothing of value to the US would be gained. Occupation of the country would, it seems to me, be nothing short of another decades long shooting war with our military bases becoming “Fort Apaches” in enemy territory. None of this takes into consideration the cost in dollars to the American economy.
The question, then, for our current President and Commander - in - Chief, is: why continue to feed our young men into a sausage grinder, such as Afghanistan, knowing full well that at some point, down the road from now, the Commander- in- Chief, in 2013, or beyond, will be ordering their withdrawal from that hell-hole? Saving face for Mr. Obama, or any President, is certainly not enough reason to spill the precious blood of American soldiers.
Afghanistan is not really a country. Not REALLY. Frankly, I’m not sure WHAT it is, but a country - it ain’t. It is sort of a no-man’s land with a conglomeration of tribes and/or clans usually at each other’s throat over some sort of “slight.” Their major industry is dope. Yep! “DOPE.” They grow beautiful fields of opium poppies -- and they sell it on the world market -- both the legal market and the black market. Get between them and their dope money and you are asking for serious trouble.
Afghanistan’s next-door neighbor, Pakistan, is where the serious threat to America lies. Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Program was established as far back as1974. Earlier this year, some American officials expressed concern that Pakistan is enlarging its nuclear weapons facilities. They fear that Pakistan is moving to increase its stockpile of fissile material. That would allow them to develop more destructive atomic weapons. Some experts are concerned that Pakistan may be in the early stages of creating thermonuclear weapons. Thermonuclear weapons are far more destructive and could be more easily developed to fit inside warheads.
As much as I hate the thought, it is entirely possible, and highly probable, that we will awaken one morning, in the not too distant future, to the news that Pakistan has been overrun by some terrorist organization, and those terrorists are in possession of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. In fact, this is the ONLY reason, I can conceive of, for American troops to remain in Afghanistan. At least, America would have forward deployed troops -- just in case this very scenario became a reality.
If Obama is determined to keep America’s military engaged in Afghanistan, then he needs to huddle with the Pentagon and actually listen to the “fighting generals” and follow their advice. America has had more than enough of bureaucrats in Washington directing US troops in battle with an enemy. Mr. Obama should immediately drop any thought of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Afghans. It isn’t going to happen. Forget “nation building, too.
I am aware that I will earn the title of “Armchair General” by making this observation, but here goes, anyway. It seems to me that America has only two real choices in Afghanistan. Get out – or -- “fort-up” as near the Pakistan border as we can and with the use of electronic eavesdropping (otherwise known as “spying”) and “humint” or “human intelligence” gathering sources (That simply means spies on the ground in Pakistan) stay as well informed as is humanly possible so that threats to Pakistan’s’ nuclear weapons and their development program can be thwarted as quickly and efficiently as possible. Even that won’t be one hundred percent effective, but, at least, our efforts in Afghanistan will not be a total waste, as they certainly appear to be today.
Hard choices? You bet they are. But that is the reason the President gets the “big bucks,” the nice house, the nice cars, and even a primo aircraft to fly about the globe. And, we would go so far as to suggest that Mr. Obama kiss and make up with Israel, our only REAL friend in the Middle East. He may not like it, but, from the looks of the diplomatic struggles with Israel these days, there remains the very real chance we will need to use Israel’s military facilities in the event the war in that region becomes even hotter and even wider.
So now it is “Obama’s War.” It will make his administration -- or -- break his administration. If Mr. Obama has any doubts about that, at all, we suggest he pluck a few history books from the White House library and look up the Jimmy Carter Administration. Many of the problems America is trying to deal with today, in the Middle East, were inherited directly from the hapless Carter Administration. It will be a very long time, indeed, before the American electorate entrusts the lives of their young military assets to the likes of the Carter Administration ever again. Unfortunately for the America people, Mr. Obama exhibits a host of the Carter foibles and will cost the US, over time, an abundance of time, money, and American blood.
This is, admittedly, not an easy problem to deal with. But deal with it Obama must. We Americans and, indeed, the remainder of the world, both friend and foe alike, will have their eyes upon Obama observing, trying his metal, and looking for that single weakness Obama may display. They will be searching for a weakness they can exploit to bring even more death and destruction to America’s shores. We can only pray that Divine Providence will look mercifully upon America and extend his arm of protection around the US as He has so lovingly done in the past.
J. D. Longstreet