Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Known Known?

Stratfor has a good piece on the WikiLeaks Afghanistan data dump, but I have to object to this statement:

The WikiLeaks portray a war in which the United States has a vastly insufficient force on the ground that is fighting a capable and dedicated enemy who isn’t going anywhere. The Taliban know that they win just by not being defeated, and they know that they won’t be defeated. The Americans are leaving, meaning the Taliban need only wait and prepare.

Really? Vastly insufficient forces? Yeah, that was said a lot about Iraq, and yet here we are with Vice President Biden boasting that Iraq could be the administration's greatest achievement.

A capable and dedicated enemy? Yeah, that was said of the Baathists, Sadrists, and al Qaeda killers in Iraq, and yet here we are. The enemy did indeed go somewhere: to Paradise, Syria, Jordan, or just home to move on after admitting defeat.

As to the enemy winning by just not being defeated? Sure, but I think we are defeating the enemy in Afghanistan. It doesn't matter whether the enemy believes they won't be defeated. Recall that in Iraq, the Awakening just started to really snow ball in fall 2006. That was at the same time that the Iraq Study Group was counseling withdrawal from Iraq and the new Speaker Pelosi gave the gavel to the children in the House of Representatives and voiced determination to get out of Iraq. That summer, our Senate nearly voted against funding the war and the press was, with few exceptions, declaring the surge a failure.

Yet with all that, instead of evading our offensive and just waiting and preparing for us to leave, some of our enemies in Iraq switched sides. We won.

Yes, we will be leaving Afghanistan eventually. But we can still beat the enemy before we go. Watch what happens in Kandahar this summer and fall:

The new commander of U.S. forces, general David Petraeus, has cancelled his predecessors plan for clearing the Taliban out of Kandahar (with large numbers of troops hunting down and killing or capturing key Taliban personnel). Instead, the U.S. will attempt to make deals with the various factions in Kandahar, and then send in troops to round up (or kill) key Taliban personnel. The new strategy is not a lot different from the old one, especially in a strategic sense. What it is doing differently is seen at the tactical level, where the troops are concentrating more on enemy logistics (blocking routes used by the Taliban to get people and weapons into Kandahar) and bases outside the city, that support forces inside the city.

Don't lose heart.