November 18, 2008

Prepping to Lose Afghanistan

U.S. forces have turned over the majority of the country to Iraq security forces with little recognition by a media obsessed with the cost of Sarah Palin's campaign wardrobe. There are units that had shed their once-required body armor because threats of enemy action are so low. Some frontline units have served their tours thus far without firing a single shot.

Despite a loathing by the media to declare it such, the Iraq wars are effectively over, and we won. The first war was the second invasion of Iraq where U.S. conventional forces deposed Saddam Hussein, killed his heirs, and defeated his military in 2003. We won that one quickly. The second war, an asymmetrical conflict with al Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni insurgent groups, emerged from the rubble of the conventional conflict as a media war, where seemingly random IED strikes and vicious terrorist bombings that killed dozens at a time sought to create chaos and defeat the U.S and Iraqi will to win.

I hasten to add that this war was in many ways effective, turning the majority of Americans against the conflict and a President who refused to surrender to terrorism. Despite some serious political and military mistakes, new U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine combined with a Sunni rebellion known as the Awakening Movement to stomp out or co-opt the last significant vestiges of the insurgency. Together as allies, Americans and Iraqis have won this war as well. What remains are isolated terrorists committing regrettable and ultimately pointless attacks of violence that can no longer significantly influence the course of history.

The third war, fought concurrently with the Sunni insurgency, was a proxy war pitting the Shia government and it's coalition backers against EFP-equipped, Iranian-trained Shia militias for the control of Iraq's Shia majority. This was won earlier this year when Iraqi forces commanded by the Prime Minister and backed by American units stormed de facto Iranian strongholds throughout southern Iraq, killing or capturing hundreds of pro-Iranian militiamen and effectively neutering Muqtada al Sadr's Medhi Army.

Like all counterinsurgencies, we couldn't easily see at the time when these foes were effectively finished as a long-term threat, but with the benefit of hindsight and ever-dwindling casualty figures for all sides, it is obvious that the war Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats tried so hard to lose in Congress was won in the sands of al Anbar, the slums of Basra, and the streets of Baghdad.

The Iraq War, as men on the ground on all sides of the conflict will tell you, is over, and we—Americans and Iraqis together— won the right for the Arab world's first democracy to exist despite fierce internal and external opposition.

Unable to force a loss in Iraq before taking office and now nearly unable to lose, Barack Obama's allies are already setting their sights on losing the other major conflict engaging our military, attempting to concede Pakistan's tribal areas and Afghanistan to al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Islamofacist terrorist groups.

Since the beginnings of the buildup that led to the Iraq War, the same far left "war is never the answer (unless we get to build the concentration camps)" set that didn't want us to invade Afghanistan suddenly declared that was the "good" war, that Afghanistan should be our focus, and that getting Osama bin Laden should be the primary, if not singular focus of the entire war on terror.

With Barack Obama now secured as the President Elect, TIME now declares that winning the Af-Pak conflict and getting Osama isn't all that important after all:

The important point of Hayden's Atlantic talk Thursday was that Muslims have turned against bin Laden, realizing that his campaign against the West has ended up killing more Muslims than it has Islam's enemies. Al-Qaeda may be picking up adherents in North Africa and Yemen, preparing its return, but it certainly is no longer in a position to destabilize Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country. And, although Hayden didn't say it, there is no good evidence bin Laden is capable of mounting a large-scale attack. He failed to pull off an October surprise, as many in the FBI and CIA had feared he would.

Despite all this, whether bin Laden is alive or dead is actually pretty irrelevant. Obama has no real choice but to revitalize the search for him, if only for political considerations. If al-Qaeda were to attack in the United States the first months of his term, Obama would end up for the rest of it explaining why he wasn't more vigilant.

But what if bin Laden really is dead, buried under a hundred tons of rock at Tora Bora or so weakened that he might as well be dead? Indefinitely crashing around Afghanistan and Pakistan's wild, mountainous tribal region on a ghost hunt cannot serve our interests. The longer we leave troops in Afghanistan the worse the civil war there will become. One day Obama will need to give up the hunt — declare bin Laden either dead or irrelevant. He has more important enemies to deal with, from Iran to Russia.

I am more than happy to concede that bin Laden is either dead or irrelevant; that is an argument that many on the right and within the military have been making for a very long time. It has been the American left and Democrats in Congress that obsessed with making bin Laden a symbol of the war they argued we should be fighting instead of the war in Iraq. Now that Iraq is won and they have control of both branches of Congress and the White House, they're suddenly attempting to shift the goalposts.

Instead of focusing on winning the war they have been insisting is the "right" war to fight, they're now attempting to trivialize it and minimize expectations of what we can accomplish so that can build the political cover to withdrawal, sans victory. Rest assured... they will find a way to blame President Bush for not winning, instead of accepting responsibility for the loss they are now hard at work trying to engineer.

Certainly, Afghanistan is in far more dire straits than Iraq, but it is a war that can still be won if Democrats decide it is worth committing to win. Sadly, so many of those now in Congress grew up in the 60s and 70s and have a systemic case of Vietnam Syndrome. They don't know how to win. They don't care to win, and in deeply disturbed, self-loathing, and broken parts of their psyche, they don't think we deserve to win wars.

Prepare for defeat, America.

After all, it is the change you elected.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 18, 2008 10:17 AM

The dirty little secret is that Obama was NEVER really going to go after Bin Laden or Al Qaeda/Taliban forces in the Afghani theater of operations.

It was palpable rhetoric employed in order to buttress the point that you alluded, namely that Iraq was a distraction and we let our eye off the ball, so to speak, as per the Left.

I too, on yahoo today, saw the article in question prominently displayed:

All of sudden UBL is NOT important in the grand scheme of things...LOL

Mark my words, by the 3rd year of his despicable regime, Hussein, will have either withdrawn our forces from Afghanistan or drawn them down to the point of irrelevancy....

Posted by: Carlos Echevarria at November 18, 2008 10:52 AM

Here's a whacky notion, why don't we wait and see some concrete action from His Barryness before declaring Apocalypse Now? I don't doubt that Barry's enthusiasm for Afghanistan was as sincere as his opportunistic objection to Iraq but he is at least on record favoring the Afghan front. He cannot vote Present on this one and a thumbsucking delay that amounts to that has all the ramifications of taking the decision intentionally. These are the realities of politics; not elective politics but ALL politics whether those of Saddam Hussein, FDR, Ptolemy or Mahatma Ghandi. I for one look forward to the education of Barack Obama. He is out of the coccoon now. He is, sorry Bar! standing in the boots of George Bush and every other Chief Executive before him. I hope to heaven he knew that the Presidency did not come with Harry Potter's magic wand but if not (and that is what his rhetoric implied) he does now. Obama has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He said that was what he wanted. And whether we wanted it or not, that is the reality. I recall that we claimed recently to be in the business of reality. During the campaign Barack had a bad case of believing his own press. I don't think that can persist even as PresElec and certainly not after all the swearing. Watch; this man is about to go grey before our eyes as Clinton and W have. Not me though. I am eternal.

Posted by: megapotamus at November 18, 2008 11:28 AM

The big mouthed miracle worker now has to deliver. I'd laugh except his folly is going to cost us so much in resources, pain and grief. America will rue the day.

Posted by: Shoprat at November 18, 2008 05:22 PM

Mega, wanna make a bet on whether or not Obama goes soft on the War on Terror? I'll take the "yes, he will" side of that bet.

Simply put, Obama has a wet noodle for a spine. He is constitutionally incapable of coming to a big decision without more angst than any other 100 people. Look at how much hemming and hawing we had on his veep pick, not to mention all those "present" votes in his history.

He's shown none of the inner strength of a Bush to fight a war in the face of the anti-war frothing moonbats. He will go wobbly, the only question is how long it will take.

Posted by: ConservativeWanderer (formerly C-C-G) at November 18, 2008 06:21 PM

While I agree w/ those who are skeptical about Obama (and agree w/ CY's prediction on how this will unfold), I'm also prepared to let Obama's actions be the basis for criticism.

I think that it is entirely appropriate to wait for Obama to be inaugurated and to act, before tearing into him.

But at the same time, I think it's important to be able to remind his liberal defenders, here and elsewhere:

A. What Obama promised.
B. What Obama actually does.
C. The separation between "A" and "B."
D. How what Obama does is actually not that different from what Dubya did .

If that means applying some of the Left's favored comments to Obama, in our criticism, well, who are they to object?

But waiting until Obama is actually inaugurated is part of what should separate the sane from the Nutroots.

Posted by: Lurking Observer at November 18, 2008 08:30 PM

C-Dub, I know where you are coming from there and have roughly the same estimation of Barry's grit but that is the Barry of the primaries which is somewhat the Barry of today but the movement has been significant just since the election. As I said, the Dems are LOUDLY on record favoring Afghanistan exclusively. Like the election, now with the Iraq war in the rear view, the dog has caught the bus. They have the opportunity to do what they have claimed to want. The move to Hillary is obviously (if sincere) a sign of intent to prosecute the GWOT rather than a bugout. As always, the only sensible end to this discussion is, we shall see. I forget what British leader it was who, when asked what would determine Crown policy leading up to the war said, "Events, dear boy. Events." Events have Barry outgunned and surrounded. Kumbayaism, if he tries it, will fail spectacularly, early and often. If the man proves ineducable, so be it but I'm going to wait on events.

Posted by: megapotamus at November 19, 2008 10:32 AM

If ever there was a golden opportunity to exceed 9/11 as Obl claims’ he wants to do it’s inauguration day!! You have both Presidents, Obamas
Cabinet, both the Senate and Congress, The Supreme Court and god knows
how many people in attendance…I think I would avoid DC on that day!!!

Posted by: Gator at November 19, 2008 12:01 PM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/19/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Posted by: David M at November 19, 2008 12:43 PM

I just finished Bing West's new book "The Strongest Tribe" and it is the best thing I've read about Iraq. It s similar t Michael Yon's bok but with more strategic discussion and West spent a lot of time with Petraeus and the generals.

Michael Yon's blog has a new post on Afghanistan that illustrates some problems. For one thing, we should just buy the entire opium crop and be done with it.

Posted by: Mike K at November 19, 2008 03:25 PM

Maybe I'm just a pessimist, Mega, but I prefer to prepare for the worst and then be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't happen.

Posted by: ConservativeWanderer (formerly C-C-G) at November 19, 2008 08:08 PM