STUCK BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
(…facing the unintended consequences of misguided policy notions)

There’s no sense trying to dodge it, but at this moment the US is stuck between a rock and a hard place…facing the unintended consequences of misguided policy notions.

Neither the Bush nor the Obama administrations have handled either of our Afghani or Iraqi ventures very well. That is, their approaches have been tactically reactive rather than strategically pro-active with the result that in neither country are we likely to see any kind of positive outcome from all our efforts in either one…after nearly a dozen years in both.

While much of that could be ascribed to our motivations arising from 9/11, that is, a revenge-driven determination to punish any and all who might have been involved with that tragic event, what followed after those earlier moments of reaction should have been much more calculated and considered. Our failure to do so is what has brought us to where we are today, and the prospects for our being able to successfully salvage something from a decade of such errors…are not very encouraging.

Yes, we stormed into Afghanistan first, mangling those most directly responsible for 9/11, that is the Bin Laden al Qaeda mob sitting in a Taliban held sanctuary. Militarily it was a successful operation…but we then found ourselves trying to figure out…what to do next. We apparently had no clue about the place, nor had we done any advanced planning for how we were going to handle the aftermath of our invasion of it.

Among other things none of our people seemed to understand the realities involved with Afghanistan, of which the four most important were: a) It was a tribal society, with a tribal society’s perspectives, not readily adaptable to Western type ideas about democracy. b) Because of a long Taliban rule by force and terror, hard on the heels of a Soviet one, there was no effective infrastructure upon which to build any kind of viable national governance. c).The Haqqani drug cartel exercised a strong and continuing subterranean influence, which would forcibly resist anything that threatened its interests. d) Hardcore Pakistani ISI/military establishment paranoia about India would sabotage any efforts to create a stable and prosperous matrix in Afghanistan, for fear that would enhance India’s influence there.

Mostly ignoring such realities we went ahead to create a Western style “democracy” and impose it on their tribal structure. Inevitably, inter-tribal rivalries gummed up the works of this type of governance, leaving Afghanistan still in a mess today.

 

Meanwhile, we continued to pursue purely military objectives, mainly search and destroy ones which, while they have reduced most of the al Qaeda elements there, have had little impact on the remnants of the Taliban operating from its Pakistani sanctuaries. The ultimate military stupidity of publicly announcing our withdrawal schedule from there has simply emboldened its resurgence and drive to regain power.

Worse yet, since it seems to have been co-opted by the Haqqani cartel, to be its “muscle”, it now has the means to seize that power away from an obviously inept, corrupt, and ineffective national government no one in the country considers relevant anymore. Once our remaining forces are gone, the Taliban will be back in force, just as before.

The aftermath of what we then did, following our later assault on Iraq, may have been slightly more forward thinking…but not by much. As pointed out in the previous issue No. 46 we’ve followed the same misguided formula there as we did in Afghanistan, and today we face another debacle there as well.

But there is another element involved in the Iraq situation. The so-called ISIS Islamist insurgency is not just a sectarian motivated one. What we face there are the power ambitions of a very determined wannabe warlord who is using sectarian extremism as a weapon to achieve those ambitions, in effect, another Saddam Hussein, and just as murderously ruthless. The terror tactics apparently applied by his cohorts so far are an indication of his true colors. He is an opportunist who has seized upon the chaos in Syria and the weakness in Iraq to try to carve out his own domain, with Sharia Law as his means of maintaining it. To what extent that will succeed is anyone’s guess, he may have over reached.

Regardless of the outcome however the US will gain little benefit from it. It missed the boat for that…ten long years ago.

CENTURION