Saturday, July 18, 2009
I Ask Again. Tell Me How This Will End?
British Retreat from Kabul
Lt Col. Tim Karcher and family
Last week I wrote Tell Me How This Ends, Afghan Redux. The subject of the war in Afghanistan continues to resound as keyboards softly click out new posts filling the blogosphere with ideas and discussions that bury the puny MSM soundbites and pontifications of politicians of every stripe.
I do not consider myself a specialized expert in international relations, military science, anthropology, political science or any of the host of specialities that continue to offer counsel and criticism about our strategy and goals in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, I in the words of an old soldier, when called upon a few years back to discuss our national security goals would describe myself as, "a generalist, who if scratched would be skin deep in a specific speciality." In that vein, I would say that my talent lies in facilitating discussion and absorbing ideas as they cross paths here at HG's World. That is why one finds so many introductions and links interspersed with comments designed to draw out your interest and then let your critical skills digest the content.
Understanding Afghanistan and our stated global goals, since late 2001 has become as elusive and unpredictable as springtime weather in the rugged valleys of the Hindu Kush. The following posts and links are some of the best of this week's examples of thoughts on this subject.
Fabius Maximus gets a major hat/tip for this post. As Fab introduces this piece, I would concur 100% with his assessment to take the time to read the whole article.
We slid into the Iraq rapidly and unknowingly, our way greased by lies. Not so in Afghanistan. Our first invasion was in response to 9-11, a fast and bloodless (as such things go) overthrow of al Qaeda’s allies. An object lesson to our enemies, it might even have resulted in a better regime. If we had withdrawn our army, sent them some checks and well wishes (along with threats of death from the sky should al Qaeda re-establish camps), who knows what might have happened?
Instead we attempted nation-building. A usually unsuccessful endeavor, it was grossly under-funded and under-planned. Years later we pour even more resources into it, further exhausting our treasury and our military. Unlike Iraq, we have had wise and eloquent warnings about our folly. Such as this article, which I strongly recommend reading in full.
These powerful essays raise points that deserve deeper study. A few days ago Mark of Zenpundit did a guest post at It's The Tribes Stupid! which I covered in the previous post. He later posted an exchange between himself and Nathan and Josh, the scribes at Registan.net.
Nathan Hamm, the founder of Registan.net asked some critical questions of me at It’s the Tribes Stupid! and for whatever reason, I have tried multiple times to post a reply and my comment does not appear. Therefore, I emailed it to Nathan and I am replying here so those interested in following the discussion can see it. My apologies for the inconvenience. Here’s the reply, Nathan’s questions are in bold text: Guest Post at It’s the Tribes, Stupid!
The unseen value of this exchange is in the link to Registan.net which offers another insightful view of a part of the world that to most young Americans, aside from soundbites of Afghanistan, is home to Borat Sagdiyev. I would urge readers to visit their site and spend some time educating themselves on the knowledge gained from several years of actually being on the ground in Central Asia.
Another site, often over looked in understanding Afghanistan is Ghosts of Alexander. On the tactical military side, Michael Yon has returned to begin a series of reports from the field in Afghanistan, Searching for Kuchi & Finding Lizards .
Finally, a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of those who serve, this careingbridge update on Lt Col Tim Karcher who was gravely wounded in Iraq.
This post ends on today on LTC Karcher and his bravery. We have asked thousands of Americans and the sons and daughters of those nations who have joined us to endure similar sacrifices as well as the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan. The echo always on our minds will be, How will this end and was it worth it?
UPDATE: Dueling Critiques on Afghanistan