Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Afghanistan “on the brink” says Michael Yon

In this interview at Pajamas TV, journalist Michael Yon (one of the good guys) argues that indecision, prevarication and political posturing leaves Afghanistan “on the brink.”  “It’s going very poorly,” he says [hat tip Robert Winefield].

"The war is being clearly being lost at this point..."
"The coalition is slowly but surely dissolving..."
”The Taliban can sense blood in the water.”
"The British are under resourced..."
"The German's are being badly handled..."
"The Dutch are thinking of taking a secondary role..."
”It’s the perfect storm for the enemy at this point.”
”We’re on the final play here.”

Meanwhile, despite pledging to make Afghanistan his focus once in office, Obama is still not taking the calls of his field commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal.

So What Went Wrong in Afghanistan? asks Elan Journo:

    “How did America, the world's most powerful nation, find itself in this morass? A shortage of troops and resources? Reliance on a corrupt Afghan regime (a fact highlighted by the charges of massive election fraud, to name a comparatively tame example)? Some combination of these themes? No, the problem goes far deeper. Our post-9/11 policy--in Afghanistan and across the board--was subverted by a factor that few have thought to examine: the basic moral ideas that animate our foreign policy.”

Basically, a morality dedicated to goals other than overwhelming victory is achieving its aim.


  1. General McChrystal, unfortunately - while right to call for more troops - follows the line that protecting innocents is a priority, i.e., if the enemy is hiding out among civilians then attacking the enemy must wait till later - this is how so many got away in the first place and lived to fight another day. The generals used to complain that their hands were tied, now one of them is *asking* for them to be. He's admitted as such by suggesting that this war could be 100 years long. Fuck that! - get it done.

  2. Robert Winefield21 Oct 2009, 11:27:00

    As I recall, his argument is based upon holding the line until the Afghanis organize themselves into a unified force under a single democratic government - without any guidance (i.e. the Marshall plan in post war Germany and the MacArthur plan in post war Japan) from the US.

    Sounds fine as a sound bite but it is total BS when you think about it. It's a bit like throwing a whole bunch of basic organic molecules into a test tube and waiting until they randomly assemble into a life-form. You'll be there a fucking long time with very little to show for it.

    Unless the USA is willing to make Afghanistan it's protectorate and basically occupy the place with a lot of men, they are farting at thunder. Attempting to build a nation by leaving it to folks who have never been a nation - let alone built one - to do it for you is futile.

    Have a look at the pictures on Michael Yon's website. The silly fucks haven't even gotten around to building a proper road network between the various provinces! And the place has been inhabited since the days of the Roman Empire (if I recall correctly!)

    If the nation gets built as a secondary benefit of your combat operations - fine. But opposing the enemy by force comes first.

    Obama's problem is that he has not got the forces on hand to do either the latter or the former.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Any moral use of force that claims to supersede the Geneva Conventions is wrong.

  5. Perhaps you ought to tell the Palestinians and jihadis that, monsewer?

  6. @ KG
    I think it would be more difficult to explain the US's adoption of the Rand Institute's solution to the US's allies in Afghanistan. The US would loose any international support.
    Aren't the yanks broke enough yet?

  7. There are two distinct problems. Whether the counter insurgency and development is being properly resourced and whether the counter insurgency & development approach is right. Your post & the link conflate the two.

    There is any amount of evidence that invading a foreign country and destroying infrastructure and oppressing the citizens does not work. Counter insurgency doctrine gets at hearts and minds. Maligning that as "subverted by a factor that few have thought to examine: the basic moral ideas that animate our foreign policy. Basically, a morality dedicated to goals other than overwhelming victory is achieving its aim" is to completely misunderstand human nature and Rand. You award the US state the right to interfere with peasants unconnected with Jihad and call that consistent with Rand. Riiiigggghhhhtttt.

    Your overwhelming victory can only be achieved by destroying all infrastructure and killing everyone who does not declare themselves quisling friendlies to an invading foreign power. What McChrystal recognises is that killing a cousin turns harmless peasants into insurgents. It will take a long time and substantial resources to build infrastructure and educate people so that the peasants look at the foreign invaders as being beneficial.

    So both inconsistent with Rand and a misunderstanding of the difference between counterinsurgency and conventional warfare. It is impossible to achieve long term victory against insurgents without local co-operation.

    On the former question of whether the Counterinsurgency & development is being adequately resourced the answer is clearly no.


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