Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There is Nothing to Fear But Jihad Itself

Winning is not a permanent status. You don't achieve it and put it on a shelf to admire and occasionally dust to recall the glorious victory.

While I am concerned about the apparent inability to end the policy of contracting areas that Afghan government forces attempt to control, I find this attitude about the Afghanistan campaign simply bizarre:

The original goal for the invasion of Afghanistan was to defeat Al Qaeda, but at a congressional hearing in June, a US general testified that “we [the United States] have decimated Al Qaeda.” Although the reason for going into Afghanistan has been met, President Trump himself has shed doubt over the likelihood and timeline of any additional success. In a speech outlining US strategy in Afghanistan, Trump stated that, “Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement [in Afghanistan].” But, more importantly, he added: “nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.” Accordingly, what do US military planners hope to accomplish? And why do US political leaders fear withdrawing? [emphasis added]

Why do we fear withdrawing? Maybe because without Afghanistan and Pakistan able and willing to control their jihadi-prone Pushtun areas, that al Qaeda or other jihadis capable of striking America will regenerate and pose a 9/11-scale threat to America again.

The idea that since we have virtually destroyed al Qaeda that we can withdraw is a mind boggling claim to make.

We nearly destroyed al Qaeda in Iraq and yet after withdrawing at the end of 2011 the group regenerated in a new form with help from sanctuaries in civil war-wracked Syria and exploded in Iraq in 2014 to build that part of the ISIL caliphate.

Every person in the world should fear an American withdrawal from Afghanistan if we risk the victory of the Taliban who once sheltered al Qaeda which killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001 and compelled us to fight the war on terror that continues to rage.

The very fact that jihadis continue to fight should tell us how much they consider killing Americans to be a mission from God that they will not stop trying to achieve. And arguing that domestic American political motives are what prevent a more wise (and fearless?) withdrawal from Afghanistan is breathtakingly stupid under the circumstances.

Sadly, until Islam itself wins the civil war that rages within their religion over who gets to define Islam, we have to fight jihadis to protect our people and to enable the non-Islamists in the Moslem world to modernize and define Islam in a way that doesn't encourage murderous jihadis.

And again, I'm not trying to claim all is well. I remain worried about how we are fighting the war.

But while the noted continued contraction of government forces' footprints (which started in the Obama administration) worries me if not ended and reversed when we can, two other points made by the author don't seem like indicators of defeat. Increased Afghan security force casualties in the last few months resulted from more intense fighting for Ghazni (which Pakistan engineered). It might be a good idea to not publicize friendly casualties to deny the enemy information rather than representing a sign of government defeat, no? And remember the enemy suffered far more casualties in the battles (and that information did not come from enemy press releases).

I don't have high hopes for what can be achieved in Afghanistan, which I expressed before President Obama was even sworn in:

The end result in Afghanistan, if all goes well, will be a nominal national government that controls the capital region and reigns but does not rule local tribes and which actually helps the locals a bit rather than sucking resources from the locals, who in turn do not make trouble for the central government or allow their areas to be used by jihadis to plan attacks on the West. We press for reasonable economic opportunities, with bribes all around (I mean, foreign aid), to keep a fragile peace.

And we stick around this time, unlike after the Soviets left Afghanistan when we ignored the place, for a generation or two to see if we can move Afghanistan into the 19th century (hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves).

I'm concerned about Afghanistan.  But I'm concerned because we can't afford to lose this war. Jihadis free to plan attacks on America will attack America.

That initial article cited was one of the dumbest things I've ever read.