Thursday, October 22, 2009

Afghanistan: More Dollars and No Sense

When War was War and Not a Game!
More Dollars
The cost for each American soldier deployed to Afghanistan has now reached one million dollars per year. The cost of maintaining a Taliban soldier in the field for a similar period is somewhat difficult to estimate, but many find the figure to be under $3,000. This means the debt ratio is about 300 - 1, with the Taliban maintaining a overwhelming edge. The debt ratio is not however the only problem, but the ugly question of sanctuary is again hitting the American military in the face as it did in Korea, Vietnam, and to a certain extent in Iraq. The Taliban and their al Queda allies are more or less free to move between Pakistan and Afghanistan and we are powerless to attack them in their strongholds in the mountains of western Pakistan. Yes. we have the UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles) with their hell-fire missiles that occasionally find an al Queda leader in a remote mud hut hidden in some mountain valley and dispatch that trusty Hell-fire against him at a cost of $100 to $200 thousand dollars each. The parts of this fallen leader are quickly gathered up and buried before sunset as is the custom in that part of the world. And a new leader is quickly named at a cost far less that the cost of sending the first on his trip to meet the many virgins. When I hear that we have killed another Taliban leader in the mountain of Pakistan, I almost laugh. Its like killing a single ant in the giant ant hill and calling that some kind of victory. This is not war, this is playing at war, this sadly has become a game with the young men of our country being the pawns in a protracted conflict we can never win with the current rules of engagement . We will lose this war without ever having lost a battle and the many young men who will never return to their families will have fallen in vain because of this great political game. The Taliban and al Queda will continue to be funded by the massive amounts of petro dollars coming from the Wahabis sects in the Gulf States and the enormous sums of money generated by the opium poppy in the mountains of Afghanistan.

No Sense
The way this war is being waged in the mountains of Afghanistan is absolute madness and insanity that is totally out of control and one that has its roots going back to the 1950's and the Korean War. In that conflict the U.S. government under the leadership of President Truman allowed a great American army to be stalemated in the mountains of Korea, and despite repeated request by the commander in the field General Douglas MacArthur for tactical nuclear weapons to be used they never were. Today we have a nuclear armed state in North Korea, a state that poses a serious threat to all of its neighbors in that region. A few years later in another part of the world French forces in Indochina faced a turning point in their struggle against a communist insurgency in what is now northern Vietnam. French forces were surrounded and outnumbered at the besieged fortress of Dien Bien Phu and after many request from the french government for tactical nukes to be used to break the siege Dien Bien Phu fell and we had the establishment of the communist state of North Vietnam and the stepping stone to the Vietnam war where tens of thousands of young American soldiers died. To this day the use tactical nuclear weapons remains off the table even though that decision has cost us tens of thousands of young Americans lives. At some point in the very near future the battle field situation will become so dire that an American President may be forced to revisit that decision and for once think about the troops in the field and not the journalist at the London Times. Even after seeing what happened in Korea and at Dien Bien Phu we entered another war where we were bound by old rules of engagement that had failed us in the past. Our enemy was allowed sanctuary---a place to regroup and rebuilt and a place from which to attack again and again. In Vietnam the American soldier never lost a major battle, but the government lost the war and Vietnam fell to the enemy. This is our current path in Afghanistan, a path we've traveled many times before and it will end in the same place--DEFEAT AND DISHONOR!

The defeat will not be of battles lost by our brave troops for none have been lost. And the dishonor will not fall on them for they are all, all honorable men. The defeat is the nations and the dishonor is ours. Ron Russell

15 comments:

Mr Pink Eyes said...

You would think that someday we might learn from the past. We are so afraid of our image that we refuse to do everything that we can do to win wars.We try to fight "compassionate" wars. This is costing us American lives every day.

LD Jackson said...

Very well put, Ron. I have put your article on StumbleUpon because I think it is so relevant to the discussion about the direction we need to go in Afghanistan. Good job.

Ron Russell said...

Thanks for posting my article to StumbleUpon Larry. I use to put a link on my post for such things, but haven't used it in a while--I know the effort involved so again thanks.

TexasFred said...

A few years ago, U.S. involvement (CIA) in Afghanistan, gave the Taliban all the tools they needed to defeat the Russian army.

The Soviet Union was embarrassed and placed in financial ruin...

Today, the tide has turned. The Taliban is being supplied by *outside sources*, are fighting our troops, and in many cases, defeating them, and America is being bankrupted in the process..

Afghanistan was a *done deal*, right up until the time that George Bush took us to Iraq on a vendetta..

Ron Russell said...

You make some good points Fred. The Taliban were defeated following the first year of war, but the sanctuary afforded them in Pakistan gave them the place to re-group and re-organize and we are now feeling the full effect of that and no number of troops can solve the sanctuary problem---we must be allowed to cross the border in force or allowed to carpet bomb the villages in the high mountain valleys where ever necessary. If Pakistan fails to grant these rights then we need to leave Afganistan. The ongoing efforts of the Pakistan army will not success in that they will kill a few hundred or so of the taliban and then withdraw declaring a victory and nothing, absolutely nothing will have changed. There is nothing we can do about the mistakes of the Bush administration and nothing we can do about the early errors of the Obama administration all we can do is to solve this sanctuary issue or get out. No need for more loss of American life if we are unable to do this. Anything short of this is a political move and not a military action and simply a way of prolonging an already protracted conflict with no end in sight.

Thomas said...

Time to leave Afghanistan. If we're not willing to win brutally and decisively, we need to go.

After we pull out turn the whole countryside into glass where not even a cockroach would survive.

TexasFred said...

Well Ron, you're correct, there is nothing we can do about ANY of it actually...

So, why do you blog? If you present stories like this and expect the facts to NOT be pointed out and opinions regarding those failures to be espoused what's the point?

You see, we can beat this horse to death, but as much as we can't change what happened previously, there's not a damned thing that you, I or anyone else can do about the future, other than point out the errors of the past and hope that someone is possibly paying attention...

Ron Russell said...

Like you Fred I'm a student of history, I point out the mistakes of the past which I deem most important as you do. One can look at any failed policy and see many different reasons for that failure, so we may think are valid and some trivial and secondary and that will always be the case. What is important is that we learn from the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them. An easy statement to make but a difficult one to carry through. I blame Bush, Obama, Clinton, Bush 1, and others going back to Truman.

I blog Fred to point out shortcoming I see. I may not see what others do and that is fine. I do however value my opinions as well as the next mans. I respect history and try to draw from it and relate it to the present. I enjoy input from others who present their case logically, but should someone began to hurl insults I cut him off and the discussion is over. You do not fall into that group and we see things on the Afgan issue pretty much the same. It may very well be that we're both wrong or just perhaps both correct. Honest I can have a back and forth where the disagreement is slight, but if the gap is too wide I will seldom engage anymore. There was a time in the past when I could handle that, but not now. And Fred your facts are valid in that Bush did pull resources from Afghanistan to send to Iraq---that is not disputable and I would never, never do that. Is just that we see the cause and effect somewhat differently and thats fine. Yours is a very popular opinion while mine is not shared by as many. I voted for Bush and would vote for him again over Barack, but then we don't have that choice. Frankly, at the present time I see no one on the scence that I could whole-heartly stand behind, but then that usually happens only once in a life time. I got to vote for my man who fit that bill twice and he had the same initials as me.

Ron Russell said...

Forgot to mention on thing. My mother was a great movie fan as my father worked at the local theatre in Oak Grove, La in 1938 and she was a big fan of Ronald Reagan, so guess where the Ronald came from. I was the first Ronald in the family. So Reagan was my man for many reasons.

Teresa said...

The Russians did not have the support of the Afghanis or their government in the past war, but that is different with this war. The United States have been invited this time as an ally in the war effort to defeat the Taliban, and Al Queda. As for carpet bombing all of Afghanistan, I think that is the best way to defeat the terrorists. But, I think the problem is with the amount of civilian casualties there would be if we did carpet bomb the place. I believe that General McChrystal should have been granted the number of troops that he requested because I believe he has a much better understanding of the needs on the ground, since he's there. I also believe that if we did not go into Iraq, the war in Afghanistan would have been far worse off than today. Saddam Hussein would have tried to undermine our efforts in Afghanistan and sent even more terrorists to Afghanistan than our living there today.

Ron Russell said...

You make some very good points Teresa. I remember the day the Russian Tanks crossed the narrow bridges in the mountain passes coming into Afghanistan. The world remembers. A puppet Russian government was being over thrown as best I recall and the Russian troops were sent in to prop it up. Some Afghans supported the Russians while others did not. The U.S. backed those who opposed the Russians and the conflict grew until the Russians were forced to withdraw. American supplies poured into Afganistan through the mountain passes and the Russians could do little to prevent that. After the Russians left the war continued amoung the various groups with the Taliban who we did not support eventually gaining the upper hand. Osama who fought against the Russians threw in his lot with the Taliban and they in turn rewarded him by allowing him to establish large bases in country. The fighting in the northwest of the country continued and was going on during the 9-11 attacks.

My main point is this issue of sanctuary and it must be solved in order to assure success in that conflict. If the Germans in WWII had a country to operate from which was immune from attack, we may very well still be fighting them.

The Right look said...

The past, if not learned from, is doomed to be repeated.

Very excellent piece of writing Ron!

Enjoyed it!

Thanks,

-j-

Debbie said...

I'm afraid I have to agree that we need to pull out. The war could be won, if the agenda was not to change the country, but to kill and dismantle al-Qaeda. This could be done. It is do-able. But we started out trying to take on the Taliban, make a democracy where a democracy can't survive at this time.

Deborah F. Hamilton
Right Truth
http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

hbl said...

The Press, after ignoring Afghanistan for so long, is now starting the same tactic they perpetrated during Vietnam and the second Iraq war: The body count.

Drip, drip: Like a Chinese water torture, they are trying to wear the American spirit down by emphasizing our losses.

These are wars we must win. Our long-term security depends on it. Half measures and dithering will not do.

Ron Russell said...

I agree HBL, we must win but that means changing the ground rules and not playing the same old game we did in Nam.