Friday, August 7, 2009

The War in Afghanistan 2558 Days and Counting

To put Afghanistan in prospective. World War II lasted 2175 days counting from Sept 1, 1939 to Aug 15, 1945. Our Civil War was three days short of four years or 1456 days. The war in Afghanistan has lasted 2558 days counting from October 7, 2001. There is no end in sight, in a war where the casualty rate resembles our own Indian Wars of the 19th century, and with a cost that competes with the heady spending days of the Vietnam War.

Framing the debate about the strategy in Afghanistan, has been as difficult as trying to swat a mosquito with a straw. The level of frustration is reaching a point where it can no longer be tolerated. Our democracy deserves to know what is Afghanistan to our national interest, and is it worth the lives and monetary cost to do what other great powers have tried and failed, for the past 2500 years? Today, that goal appears to be to move Afghanistan's people, kicking and screaming into the 21st century, whatever the cost.

Below, are several posts that resonate with reason and offers insight beyond the stifling self-interest that flows from much of the media and our elected officials.

Zenpundit leads off with this post that he introduces this way.

Had a pleasant and interesting email conversation with the always thoughtful Dr. Bernard Finel of The American Security Project ( that link is the blog, here is the main site for the org). Dr. Finel has been blogging vigorously and very critically of late about COIN becoming conventional Beltway wisdom, a premise he does not accept nor believe to be a useful strategic posture for the United States. It was a good discussion and one that I would like the readers to join.

Read this important post in full:
On COIN and an Anti-COIN Counterrevolution?

This next post comes by way of Thomas Barnett who opens with these words from his World War Room column in Esquire.

On Monday, the latest video surfaced from Osama bin Laden's longtime deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, featuring his usual sermon on the state of the radical Islamic struggle against the United States. The gist: Al Qaeda is winning hands-down, natch. Trouble is, it's not.

The message wouldn't have attracted any more media attention than his thirty-or-so
similar videos from the past three-and-a-half years except, of course, for his affirmation that a truce with President Obama is still on the table: If America is willing to "concede" radical Islam's "victory" throughout the greater Middle East by withdrawing all of its troops, then Al Qaeda will stop targeting Americans.
Some offer.

Read more: Why Al Qaeda Is Losing the War on Terror.

Clearly Barnett raises valid points that Galrahn of Information Dissemination picked up on and added his thoughtful analysis.

Here is a snippet of Galrahn's thoughts.

As Tom Barnett notes, "We're the ones winning this struggle across the board" and are doing so by connecting opportunity to places where opportunity has rarely existed in any form, much less on a global scale. While there is a hint in the truth that by fighting them over there we aren't fighting them over here, there is also a bit of truth in suggesting that fighting the soft war is more important, and achieves a more attainable containment strategy than fighting the hard war in those disconnected places ever will.

Read more: Thinking About Trends and Changes.

From the field in Afghanistan comes this report filed by Michael Yon. The photos are stunning and Michael's reports so real, you can taste the grit of the dust kicked up by the rotors.
Read more:
Pixie Dust

Michal also found the time to contribute this guest post at Steve Pressfield's It's The Tribes Stupid!

It can be tempting to downplay or ignore the influence of tribes in Afghan politics, and on the effects on our operations. We tried to ignore the great influence of the tribes during the war in Iraq, and not until 2006, fully three years into the war, did we effectively begin to work with tribes on an appreciable scale.
Tribes in Afghanistan: A Guest Post from Michael Yon

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