Breathtaking news from the Pentagon about Afghanistan

Summary: My writings began in 2003 with analysis of the Pentagon’s obviously false reports about victory in Afghanistan. Fifteen years later, William Lind shows that little has changed. Anger is the only rational response by a free people to this. Our response will reveal, again, what we have become.

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The Pentagon Declares Bankruptcy

By William S. Lind at Traditional Right, 7 January 2019.
Posted with his generous permission.

It’s intellectual bankruptcy, since we still give DoD almost unimaginable sums of money.

According to the December 28 New York Times, the Pentagon has finally made its moral and intellectual bankruptcy official.  With regard to our failed war in Afghanistan, the Times reported that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. (USMC), said that the Taliban “are not losing.” The general is correct. The Taliban are not losing because they have won. All that remains is working out the details of their assumption of power and our departure. To his credit, President Trump recognizes that reality.

But merely presiding over our defeat is apparently not enough for General Dunford. In a truly breathtaking admission of strategic incompetence and intellectual bankruptcy, the general went on to say according to the Times …

“’If someone has a better idea than we have right now, which is to support the Afghans and put pressure on the terrorist groups in the region, I’m certainly open to dialogue on that,’ General Dunford said at a panel sponsored by The Washington Post earlier this month.”

Wow. I doubt Moltke Jr. or even Keitel, whom the Fuehrer described as having the mind of a hotel doorman, sank that low.  Has General Dunford considered asking the charwoman who cleans his office? Perhaps he could talk to his milkman or egg lady. Certainly his driver should be consulted; after all he has some idea where he is going, which general Dunford, after sixteen years of war and several thousand American dead, admittedly does not.  In the long annals of military incompetence that’s still one for the history books. Clio should award General Dunford the Golden Trash Can, First Class, with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.

Let us imagine, for a moment, that we are a Prussian officer sent to advise General Dunford on how to turn a lost war around (That’s what happens when you fart at the dinner table on board the Hohenzollern). Taking the General’s statement quoted above as a description of his strategy, we see that “supporting the Afghans” has no meaning because it is a war of Afghans against Afghans. As to “putting pressure on the terrorist groups”, “terrorists” simply means “the other side” and “pressure” means tactical pinpricks with no strategic impact.  It is seldom possible to reverse strategic failure at the tactical level, and kleckern, nicht klotzen is a prescription for failure at all levels of war.

So to begin we need to shift our focus to a strategic level. I suspect even General Dunford knows that the Taliban’s strategic center of gravity is its support by Pakistan. Take that away, and the Taliban is walking on air. How might that be done?  Recognize that so long as the current Afghan government is aligned with India, Pakistan has no choice but to support the Taliban. Pakistan’s threat is India, and Pakistan needs Afghanistan as an ally to offer it some strategic depth. Above all, it cannot have a hostile Afghanistan putting Pakistan in a two-front situation. So our first step is to give the current Afghan government a (secret, not public) ultimatum: cut all ties to India and become a loyal and subservient ally of Pakistan. If they won’t, our troops and money go home. The money, more than the troops, will concentrate their thinking.

When the Taliban sees this move and realizes the strategic threat it represents, offer them a peace that secures our limited objective while rewarding them.  Our objective going into Afghanistan was to deprive Al Qaeda of a base. We have no quarrel with the Taliban per se. So, we offer to recognize a Taliban-led Afghanistan as long as they do not invite back groups that seek to attack the American homeland. Al Qaeda have worn out its welcome in Afghanistan before 9/11 and it now has more useful bases in other countries.  Plus, the Taliban is already fighting ISIS within Afghanistan. As part of a peace deal, we could offer to support the Taliban in that fight, not with troops but with the all-important ammunition in 4GW, money.

I doubt General Dunford will be willing to heed Prussian advice. But if he’s asking the whole world for input, he might recall that these services send their best and brightest young officers to serve the members of The Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Chairman, he is well within his rights to say to those young officers, many who will have served in Afghanistan, what he said on the Post’s panel: if you’ve got better ideas than what we are now doing, please share them with me. I suspect he would to get some useful feedback, perhaps along the lines I’ve outlined here.

Or he could just ask the charwoman. Even she is likely to come up with something better than doing more of what has not worked in sixteen years.

————————————-

Our senior generals at work, planning to lose more wars.

Pentagon War Room

About the author

William S. Lind is director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation. He has a Master’s Degree in History from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 to 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 to 1986. See his bio at Wikipedia.

William Lind

Mr. Lind is author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook (1985), co-author with Gary Hart of America Can Win: The Case for Military Reform (1986), and co-author with William H. Marshner of Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda (1987).

He’s perhaps best known for his articles about the long war, now published as On War: The Collected Columns of William S. Lind 2003-2009. See his other articles about a broad range of subjects…

  1. His posts at TraditionalRight.
  2. His articles about geopolitics at The American Conservative.
  3. His articles about transportation at The American Conservative.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about our generals, about our war in Afghanistan (here and here), and especially these…

  1. The Core Competence of America’s Military Leaders.
  2. Careerism and Psychopathy in the US Military leadership — by GI Wilson (Colonel, USMC, retired).
  3. William Lind looks at our generals, sees “rank incompetence”.
  4. How did the US Army’s leadership problem grow so bad? — by Don Vandergriff (Major, US Army, retired).
  5. Reforming the US Army: can be done, must be done.
  6. Officers can reform our military and make America stronger! – Only the will to do so is lacking.
  7. Admiral Rickover’s gift to us: showing that we can reform America’s military.
  8. Trump chooses another general best suited to lose wars.
Anatomy of Failure: Why America Loses Every War It Starts
Available at Amazon.

This helps explain why we lose.

Anatomy of Failure: Why America Loses Every War It Starts

By Harlan K. Ullman (Navy Institute Press, 2017).

See the preface. From the publisher …

“Why, since the end of World War II, has the United States either lost every war it started or failed in every military intervention it prosecuted? Harlan Ullman’s new book answers this most disturbing question, a question Americans would never think of even asking because this record of failure has been largely hidden in plain sight or forgotten with the passage of time.

“The most straightforward answer is that presidents and administrations have consistently failed to use sound strategic thinking and lacked sufficient knowledge or understanding of the circumstances prior to deciding whether or not to employ force.

“Making this case is an in-depth analysis of the records of presidents from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama and Donald Trump in using force or starting wars. His recommended solutions begin with a “brains-based” approach to sound strategic thinking to address onne of the major causes of failure —-the inexperience of too many of the nation’s commanders-in-chief. Ullman reinforces his argument through the use of autobiographical vignettes that provide a human dimension and insight into the reasons for failure, in some cases making public previously unknown history.

“The clarion call of Anatomy of Failure is that both a sound strategic framework and sufficient knowledge and understanding of the circumstance that may lead to using force are vital. Without them, failure is virtually guaranteed.”

13 thoughts on “Breathtaking news from the Pentagon about Afghanistan”

  1. I am angry, mainly at myself for buying the lies initially. I became angrier after becoming acqainted with Lind, you and Richards. At first I was skeptical of your views, heh.

    This is after this morning’s foreword and Lind’s opening paragraph.

    Now, back to reading your/Lind’s post.

  2. Even a neo-con warhawk like Richard Haass now acknowledges that the US cannot win in Afghanistan, but his policy solution is to stay with minimum man power and try to draw in key players around Afghanistan.

    It’s strange that he believes that Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan would accept a US present in the region or help with the conflicts those countries have with the US.

    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-strategy-for-not-losing-war-in-afghanistan-by-richard-n–haass-2019-01

  3. From the 28 DEC article:
    >>>Mr. Trump, he said, wanted to end these military campaigns so he could focus on the economic and geopolitical contest with China, which he views as America’s biggest foreign threat. “This is not about a return to isolationism,” Mr. Bannon said. “It’s the pivot away from the humanitarian expeditionary mentality of the internationalists.”<<>>Mr. Trump’s views, however, were hardly a mystery. “It is time to get out of Afghanistan,” he wrote on Twitter on Feb. 27, 2012, when he was already thinking about running for president. “We are building roads and schools for people that hate us. It is not in our national interests.”<<<

    Trump's rightthink here is utter.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor

      Dark,

      “Trump’s rightthink here is utter.”

      Perhaps. Color me skeptical that granting DoD’s dreams of unlimited funds to fight China will do other than make contractors richer.

      1. Hmm, looks like my comment got garbled. To the first quote I wanted to point out that China has been extracting resources from Afghanistan for years now, while we’ve been dumping resources there . Trump was utterly right about how what we’re doing in Afghanistan.

      2. Color me skeptical that granting DoD’s dreams of unlimited funds to fight China will do other than make contractors richer.

        That’s the primary purpose of just about everything these people do.

      3. Larry Kummer, Editor

        Feeriker,

        Rightly so. If we won’t run America, others will do so – and run it in their interest, not ours. That’s the Great Circle of Life taught us by the Great God Disney.

  4. “Solution of Afghanistan and Pakistan Instability.”

    The only solution to the present problem of instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the Union of these two countries based on principles of Democracy and Federalism.

    In history, Durani Empire was composed of all the areas in which today’s Pakistan and Afghanistan are located, and during the Mughal Empire together they were a single country. In the initial period of the British Empire, they were also the same country.

    Union of both countries will make the single government more responsible in stabilizing this region and in satisfying the nationalistic pride of its inhabitants. People will be able to serve humanity as other large nations of the world do. Otherwise, this region will always remain a nuisance for the world. It destroyed Soviet Union. It may also take down the western world, which will be a great blow to the development of Science and Technology, especially Medical science.
    Advantages to the world:
    Control of terrorism:
    Instability in this region is causing great damage to humanity. Soldiers of many countries are sacrificing their lives just to eliminate terrorists from these countries. In the presence of a unified government, it will be easier to control terrorists.
    Control of extremism:
    As a unified nation composed of multiethnic groups such as the Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis, Pashtuns, Urdu speakers, Tajiks, Persians and Hazaras, and as a multisectarian society such as Sunni and Shiites, it will become impossible for any ethnic group or religious sect to find any future in extremism.
    Stabilization of the region:
    Although it is now that the problems of this region have gained attention, it has suffered from instability for a long time. People here are finding no hope, no future for themselves, partly because of interference from foreign countries, such as the British Empire, Soviet Union, USA, China and India. When they were unified under the Durani Empire, the region was stable. The same was the case during the Mughal Empire.
    By creating a unified state of Pakistan and Afghanistan, a sense of satisfaction, pride and respect of having a national state will be achieved. That might lead to normalization of relations with the rest of the world and stability.
    Solution to economic problems
    At present, both countries are burdens on others, and pose barriers in exploring the resources of Central Asia by the world. After stabilization, it will be useful not only for Central Asia and for the World, but also for the new unified nation itself.
    Advantages to Pakistan:
    It was the vision of Quaid-e-Azam, the Founder of Pakistan, to unify the regions of West Pakistan, Afghanistan, East Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia. The A in Pakistan was meant to stand for “Afghania/Afghanistan”. This goal probably needs time. It took many centuries for Europeans to realize that they shared a common goal.
    • By unification with Afghanistan, areas, which are included in Pakistan, will stabilize, and migration of people from disturbed areas will stop.
    • Smuggling of weapons across the borders will end, and Law and Order will be established.
    • Similarly, illicit drug trade will be minimized.
    • Whole areas of Pukhtoons (Pashtuns) speaking population will unify, and that will help the development of culture and language of that group which is now divided in two nations.
    • Expenses for Security measures on the borders will be minimal. The resultant balance can be used for the welfare of people.
    • Interference of other nations in this region will subside.
    • Due to unique historical importance for Buddhists and Hindus, tourism industry will flourish and business activity in the region will increase.
    Advantages to Afghanistan:
    • Through unification, Afghanistan will cease to be a land locked country. The union will promote freedom of people of Afghanistan to travel and engage in economic activity,
    • Extremism and terrorism will come to and end, as the people will become more engaged and involved in adjusting themselves in the new union. Utilization of raw products of Afghanistan will increase.
    • Security and military expenses will minimize.
    • Doors to Pakistan will open to Afghanis who look for jobs in Pakistan.
    • Shortage of food products in Afghanistan will decrease and it will increase the utilization of raw products of Afghanistan.
    • Linking Central Asia via Afghanistan to the rest of the world will generate extraordinary development.
    Based on above observations, suggestions and predictions, it is clear that unification of Pakistan and Afghanistan will be fruitful for everyone in the region and for the world at large.
    Mr. M. Akram Khan Niazi.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor

      akram,

      “The only solution to the present problem of instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the Union of these two countries based on principles of Democracy and Federalism.”

      Is there any evidence – any whatsoever – of a movement to do that? Among the elites? Among the people of either nation?

      These things don’t happen because somebody thinks it is logical.

    2. Akram: “The only solution to the present problem of instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the Union of these two countries based on principles of Democracy and Federalism.”

      Sounds good in theory. Sounds horrific and catastrophic in practice.

      The inept, military-dominated, cruel, and generally unpleasant governments currently running both countries LIKE the current situation want to keep it in place, and have far too many ways to thwart your vision. We learned a long time ago that barring extremely unusual circumstances, like losing WWII, foreigners coming in and imposing their vision of a perfect government is an unavoidable recipe for total disaster for the interfering international powers.

      Experience has shown that the usual outcome of such an attempt is that the US would pour more billions of dollars and thousands of lives into the effort and would unify the population of both countries against anything we suggest and make the general population much more receptive to supporting the terrorists and the so-called governments simply because they are NOT viewed as foreign invaders.

      Vietnam is the classic example but hardly the only one. Christianity and Islam have a *SPECIAL* historical relationship that would make things a lot worse than Vietnam. The British learned this lesson the hard way in the late 1800’s in Afghanistan (although admittedly, they were pushing hard for monetary and territorial gains as well).

      The smarter thing for foreign powers to do is to STAY AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE until the locals figure out how to constructively engage with the outside world. Anything else leads to a widespread and increasingly vicious insurgency against the invaders regardless of the moral purity of the original motives of the invaders.

      My final thought on this idea just makes things worse. Pakistan, like it or not, is a nuclear-armed nation. How do you feel about the Pakistani government using nuclear weapons on either the US or their own people? I cannot, in moderate language, describe how unhappy I am about the thought of ripping the lid off that particular can of incestuous, blood-sucking, demonic tapeworms. The resulting catastrophic consequences COULD NOT POSSIBLY be worth the theoretical but highly unlikely benefits.

  5. The Man Who Laughs

    “’If someone has a better idea than we have right now, which is to support the Afghans and put pressure on the terrorist groups in the region, I’m certainly open to dialogue on that,’ General Dunford said at a panel sponsored by The Washington Post earlier this month.”

    That threatens to turn into some kind of Monty Python routine.

    “If someone has a better idea than we have right now, which is to send waves of infantry under sixty pound packs across no man;’s land to storm the German machine gun nests, I’m certainly open to dialog on that.”

    – General George Paget Ponsonby-Hilliard, 1917

    At the moment, what it’s about is that no one wants the roof to cave in on their watch. It’s better if it caves in on the next guy’s watch.

    “Recognize that so long as the current Afghan government is aligned with India, Pakistan has no choice but to support the Taliban. Pakistan’s threat is India, and Pakistan needs Afghanistan as an ally to offer it some strategic depth. Above all, it cannot have a hostile Afghanistan putting Pakistan in a two-front situation. So our first step is to give the current Afghan government a (secret, not public) ultimatum: cut all ties to India and become a loyal and subservient ally of Pakistan.”

    I’m not clear on what support the current Afghan government gives India. Also, given that the current war in Afghanistan costs Pakistan nothing and that the long term prospects of the current Afghan government seem poor, Pakistan’s incentive to take that deal looks dubious. Our hand may be so weak by now that we have very little left to bargain with. I’m not saying it couldn’t work, but I wouldn’t bet the rent money on it.

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