Thoughts On Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 9 months ago

I have enough posts on Afghanistan to write a book.  But I thought it may be a good thing to give some closing thoughts on a failed campaign.

From the beginning of the George W. Bush era, the notion had been that people love liberty and will always side with it.  This is a demonstrably stupid assumption, disproven merely by looking at the medical yoke of tyranny Americans seem to love at the moment.

The important facet of human belief systems Bush failed to take into account was religion.  Islam isn’t built for liberty, and liberty isn’t compatible with Islam.  When David Kilcullen wrote his doctoral thesis on counterinsurgency, he learned all the wrong lessons.  He mistakenly believed that hearts can be won, and that the measure of doing that is a function of the degree to which they all share in the wealth, prosperity, political theater, and health of a nation or people.  It’s the sociologist’s dream – couple human terrain with force from guns, and any culture can be transitioned into something that it is not.

David Petraeus learned all the wrong lessons from Kilcullen.  Stanley McChrystal attempted to cut off the head of the snake with direct action operations using SpecOps, falsely believing that without the head, the snake would perish.  Islam isn’t a snake, but rather, a world and life view (a false one) that regenerates.  The HVT campaign was bound to fail.

On top of that, following the mantra to win hearts and minds, a set of ROE was put into place that made it impossible for the U.S. warrior to win.  He had to fight the battles of lawfare as much as enemy combatants.  Finally, the campaign in Afghanistan was marked by micromanagement and extraordinary ignorance and stupidity.

Gen. David Rodriguez made it difficult for Marines in Helmand and during the initial parts of the larger campaign for Helmand he issued an order that every use of artillery receive his approval.  The ignorance of U.S. brass taking Viagra to the tribal chieftains so that could continue their abuse of little boys is so repugnant that it’s amazing the enlisted men didn’t turn their weapons on their own command.

Tim Lynch (who has spent longer time in Afghanistan that any English speaking man alive today, nearly ten years) told me personally that the DoD had thousands of hours of video footage of Afghan boys engaged in sexual activity with animals.  Against this backdrop, Islamist militants only became more incensed and enraged.

From the beginning I favored sending the Rangers and Marines to the border with Pakistan so that AQ could be killed in the caves of Tora Bora rather than escaping to live and fight again.  Chase the Taliban, kill them, and then there would be no Quetta Shura.  And then leave.  But we had to play armed social worker, and now here we are.

The final exit is a debacle of mammoth proportions, Americans will be left in Afghanistan to be beheaded, and Bagram Air Base (the best and brightest hope for a smooth withdrawal) was shut down.  And they are proud of it.  Meanwhile, twelve Marines perished today.  It is a dark day.

I asked my friend John Bernard (former Marine Corps First Sergeant) – who lost his own son in Afghanistan – for his thoughts today.  He sent me this, but as I see, he also posted it to his blog.  Give it a visit.  Here are his thoughts.


So after several years of listening to the faint of heart and the lowly in character sob over the use of wrong pronouns, the meritless claims of institutional racism, continual cries of inequity, inequality, privilege and oh yeah, mean tweets, we arrive at today’s latest fruit of globalist clap-trap; 12 dead American Service members and another 15 wounded by some as yet unnamed cabal of Satan worshipping cretins in Kabul.

This follows a week of watching one of the most disgraceful egress operations in the annals of Military History. And it as an easily foretold ending to an historically ill-advised military doctrine which supplanted the hunt-kill strategy in place in Afghanistan until June of 2009. I “predicted” this that same fateful month and reiterated over the following decade.

I will remind those who forgot and the rest who have been too self-absorbed to know, that in June of 2009 Stanley McChrystal brought to light the fruit of a year of positing, posturing, submitting and frankly, undermining the probability of any kind of favorable outcome in what has been called, the Graveyard of Empires. Make no mistake, the genesis of this horrific turn in Afghanistan rests with the then newly Minted/Corronated/Sainted, Barrack Hussein Obama 6 months earlier. Obama had been very clear in his narcissistic “memoir”, Audacity of Hope, pg 261 …” I will stand with them [Muslims] should the political winds shift in an ugly direction…”

He backed those words with his Commander’s Intent statement regarding Afghanistan by voicing concern for the safety of the average Afghan; supplanting his sworn duty and associated responsibility for the Constitution, National Security and his War Fighters. His voiced concern instructed his bevy of Leftist Politruk and the machinery of Leftist Bureaucrats at the Pentagon who felt legitimized in dragging down the sullied book, from the dusty shelf in the Library of Horrible Ideas and one more time decided to apply the doctrine of the Counter Insurgency with its impossible ROE, to Afghanistan.

Given COIN’s 76 year history of 100% abysmal failure, it was nothing short of malfeasance and even justifying a charge of Negligent Homicide for those who recommended COIN with the same charge placed against the one man who chose to secure security for a foreign people over the security of the Nation and its War Fighters he was Oathbound to Defend.

Given the catastrophic endings for the Brits in Malay, the French in Indochina, the US in Vietnam, Somalia and the questionable conditions in Iraq; the predictable consequences in the entire Middle East from 2010-2012 including the attack on the CIA safe house in Benghazi where four Americans were killed and no rescue mission was launched, it was not only predictable that ANY egress from Afghanistan would be catastrophic, but in fact, a given!

With this history as backdrop, we can now discuss Biden’s Saigon or potential Dien Bien Phu through the lens of historical accuracy understanding that COIN in Afghanistan was doomed to fail even before McChrystal opened his mouth publicly in June of 2009.

What makes what we are witnessing in real time all the more frustrating is knowing his not too bright advisors had at least, warned him of the probability of failure a full 6 months before they pulled the metaphorical trigger on the egress.

It is also appalling and frustrating to have to listen to Biden and his underlings parade out rhetorical effort after lie after garbled statement in an effort to put a smiley face – even to take credit for some kind of tactical mastery in this entirely preventable episode.

Again, predictably, the White House Press Corps seems incapable or unwilling to ask the most obvious questions;

“Why didn’t you keep Bagram open until every single American Citizen and Afghan Collaborator were safe”…

“Why didn’t you secure the several billion dollars in US War Materiel and Weaponry before pulling out the last of the troops and contractors?”

“Why didn’t you immediately launch a massive extraction effort to safeguard and remove American citizens when it became undeniably apparent on August 14th?”

“Why in the name of all that is right and just did you give any sway to the Terrorists “Teachers” known as the Taliban?

Instead we have been treated to that age old political witchcraft, enjoined by both politician, bureaucrat politruk and media entertainer alike; the effort to polish a turd. Somewhere along the line it became knee-jerk to spin a story, create a tale, redirect the public gaze and basically, lie, rather than own up to the mistake.

Unfortunately, a full 50% of this population is more than happy to play along and even gleeful at the prospect of actively participating as long as it props up their questionable selection for the Presidency.

Obama may have started us down this path

Obama’s Politruk may have sullied themselves in the name of relevancy.

But it is Biden and his corral of miscreants who own this astoundingly shameful excuse for an egress.

And now he can add the names of at least 27 American War Fighters; dead and wounded who were tasked with nothing short of a cleanup operation in a vain attempt to help a feckless “president” save face.

Democrats and their legion of facilitators would do well to learn at least one lesson;

Sometimes, a Turd is simply a Turd.

I pray for the families of those 12 War Fighters whose lives were sacrificed for the sake of politics. It is doubly infuriating for our family being as this debacle began to take shape on the Anniversary of our Son’s death in Afghanistan 08/14/2009.

I pray for the families of the thousands whose lives were sacrificed for the misplaced interest of a president who sullied his oath, 12 years ago.

I hope although very likely in vain, that those who selected the current figurehead will see the fruit of that ill-conceived choice even if it required the unnecessary deaths of yet more American Service members, this day, 26 August 2021.

 Semper Fidelis

 John Bernard

UPDATE from HPS: I cannot help but append this post with another observation.

They were never serious.  I knew they weren’t serious when I watched and analyzed the logistics operations taking place a decade ago.

General David Rodriguez boldly and baldly stated over TV that the Taliban were on their heels.  They were reeling from the pounding the U.S. troops had given them.  For that reason, there would be no spring offensive.

I said that there would be, and I explained in many posts exactly what the strategy would be.  The Taliban would attacks the lines of logistics at two points:  (1) The port city of Lahore to Chaman (the Southern route), and (2) The port city of Lahore to The Khyber Pass through the Torkham Crossing (the Northern route).  There are two main [guarded] border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  This isn’t difficult.  This Khyber Pass route is particularly treacherous, with one blown up truck blocking the single roadway for hours or even days.  I’ve still got the pictures of what they did to the trucks.  The Southern route relied on “Jingle Trucks” of the locals.  It was a pittance compared to the Northern route.

The Taliban did exactly what I said they would do.  There was a spring offensive, and it attacked both points of ingress of supply into Afghanistan.

After this, flights kicked up at Donaldson AFB in Greenville, S.C., 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.  It was all air after that.

And David Rodriguez is an idiot and the DoD should hire me as their logistics analyst.  They don’t care enough to do that.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On August 26, 2021 at 11:31 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    The great military theorist the late Colonel John Boyd, USAF (ret.) commanded an air wing during the Vietnam conflict, and hence had a front-row seat to events there. After the war, he began an intensive study of conflict in all of its forms, a trend which accelerated when he retired from the military and began working as a civilian employee of the Pentagon/DOD.

    He sought to understand how a super-power like the United States could be brought to heel by a much smaller and less-technologically-advanced nation like North Vietnam. Moreover, he sensed that his military education had not told him the whole story concerning human conflict and how it is waged. And once he had completed a comprehensive survey of humanity at war, he then turned to nature “red in tooth and claw” for whatever lessons it offered.

    Boyd never in his lifetime authored a book containing the distilled wisdom of these efforts, not that is known at any rate, but he was famous for the marathon briefings he gave – some lasting hours on end – to his audiences at the Pentagon. From these briefings (some of which have survived intact to the present) and based upon the work of many of his closest acolytes and colleagues, we know something of what he concluded….

    1. War is fought at three levels: Moral, mental and physical.

    Of these, the moral level is the most-important, whereas the physical is the least-important. This order, Boyd hastened to note, is precisely the reverse of what most senior officers learned at staff college and at West Point or Annapolis, in OCS or ROTC. This mis-ordering of priorities had and still has profound implications for the nation’s conduct of war, and our prospects for winning of wars.

    2. People, ideas and hardware are essential to the fighting/winning of wars, but like most western militaries, we consistently emphasize hardware over people and ideas, when in reality people and ideas matter a great deal more than hardware.

    Boyd was for years a member of the military reform movement within the Pentagon/DOD, a coterie of retired military, civilian specialists and serving officers who attempted to reshape how the nation fought wars, and how it procured the tools for doing so.

    Boyd was famous for thundering: “People, ideas and hardware – in that order!” at his audiences. But the five-sided puzzle palace isn’t optimized for the elevation of people or ideas; it is optimized for generating revenue for defense contractors and their pals on the ‘Hill.

    The disaster in Afghanistan again shows that high-technology alone does not win wars; people and ideas win wars, and that if a people and their ideas and beliefs are strong-enough, they can defeat the finest technology money can buy.

    3. War is contested at three primary levels: At the level of grand strategy, at the level of operations, and finally at the tactical level.

    One of the most-vital lessons Boyd learned from Vietnam and also the study of conflicts like the Second World War is that tactical and operational excellence cannot overcome a deeply-flawed grand strategy.

    If Boyd was alive today, he would undoubtedly reaffirm the point vis-a-vis Afghanistan: Despite the tactical and operational excellence of our fighting forces, and those of our NATO allies, our overall effort in Afghanistan was doomed virtually from the start because of a deeply-flawed grand strategy.

    The same lesson could be learned from examining the German war effort in the Second World War. Although her fighting men often performed at an elite level tactically and operationally, it was not enough to overcome the many flaws and severe defects in Germany’s grand strategy.

    @ Herschel

    Re: “From the beginning I favored sending the Rangers and Marines to the border with Pakistan so that AQ could be killed in the caves of Tora Bora rather than escaping to live and fight again. Chase the Taliban, kill them, and then there would be no Quetta Shura. And then leave.”

    Yes, quite so. That accords well with Boyd’s thinking and that of some of his surviving colleagues, such as Bill Lind, who have written that the proper military response to the 9-11-2001 attacks was a punitive raid-in-force – something very much like what is suggested above.

    Re: “David Petraeus learned all the wrong lessons from Kilcullen.”

    Subsequent events have shown that Petraeus, McCrystal, et al. have had suspect loyalties all along. All have, to a greater or lesser extent, become part of the “swamp” in Washington D.C. -and just to make sure that we rubes out in flyover country got the memo, both guys violated their oaths as officers by coming out for gun control.

    Re: “Make no mistake, the genesis of this horrific turn in Afghanistan rests with the then newly Minted/Corronated/Sainted, Barrack Hussein Obama 6 months earlier. Obama had been very clear in his narcissistic “memoir”, Audacity of Hope, pg 261 …” I will stand with them [Muslims] should the political winds shift in an ugly direction…”

    Barack Hussein Obama is a practicing Sunni Muslim, and has been since his childhood in Indonesia. He is no Christian, that’s for sure, and his much-ballyhooed membership in Jeremiah Wright’s “church” of black liberation theology in Chicago, was just a fig leaf to hide his actual beliefs. In fact, Obama hates Christianity, and the proof was everywhere to be seen if one could recognize it.

    Remember Obama’s much-hyped visit to Notre Dame early in his first term? Much was made of it in the MSM press. Notre Dame is one of the oldest and most-prestigious Catholic Universities in the United States (albeit one living off past glories in that department, but that’s another matter), and Obama, David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel all knew this when they accepted the invitation for B. Hussein to speak there. Obama went, but not before insisting that every crucifix, cross or other Christian symbol in sight be covered up first.

    No Chief Executive/CIC has ever done something like this before, so why now? The answer lies in Obama’s hidden allegiance to Islam and hostility to other systems of belief which challenge its primacy. Christians and Christianity are the oldest and most-determined foes of Islam over the last 1,400 years, and you can bet that Obama knows that.

    Remember that statement BHO made about all of those people in small-town America, “clinging to their guns and Bibles”? That was a direct shot across the bow of the people guys like Obama hate and fear the most. Namely, traditional Americans, rural people, Christians, those from the South.

    Obama never missed an opportunity to insult the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, albeit in petty ways. That was no mispronunciation by accident of “Navy Corpseman,” that was an intentional shot at the Navy. Whenever it rained outside, Obama made sure some Marine had to stand there in the downpour holding an umbrella over his head. Stuff like that.

    Why? Because Obama is a Muslim, and the Muslims still smart over the fact that the Navy and Marine Corps kicked their butts but good at Tripoli during the Barbary Wars, the very first fought by the young nation and its brand-new navy and corps of marines.

    Vis-a-vis Afghanistan, Obama was playing for other team, at least whenever he could get away with it. I am of the belief that Obama and his people “gave up” those men in SEAL Team Six shortly after the OBL raid, when it came to light that they were the unit responsible for the take-down. On August 6th, 2011, the Taliban shot-down a Chinook helicopter (call-sign “Extortion 17”), killing all 38 people on board, including 22 members of SEAL Team Six. That was a straight-up assassination job, IMHO.

  2. On August 27, 2021 at 4:24 am, Nosmo said:

    The moment it was escalated beyond the individual Special Forces unit level the entire project was doomed; planning all of it from the Pentagon may have doomed everything from before any part of it began.

    American ROE should have matched the enemy’s: 1) that’s the only thing they understand; 2) anything else was a waste of effort, time and resources.

    To change a nation one must first change the society, to change a society one must first change the culture; 14 centuries of culture is impossible to change even slightly in single human lifetime terms. It’s even more impossible in American attention span terms.

    If one’s own culture is a steaming hot mess any attempt to impact a different culture will produce negative results.

    Intelligence gathering – and understanding it – is a very long and deep game; the committment to it must be, at minimum, decades, and probably centuries, and accurate, complete intelligence gathering cannot be successfully accomplished by remote control. It requires very long term direct, intimate attendance and participation. (Old proverb: (verifiable) facts are gathered and assembled into data; data is analyzed and sorted into information; information is organized to allow creation of knowledge; knowledge is used to undertake action. Action produces new facts. Change the order or omit a step and none of it works.).

    Regardless of the skill or committment of the intelligence gatherers and processors, if the intelligence users are not also full and complete participants the process will not be effective and will probably fail completely.

    WWII was approached with “we do this or else” attitude which deeply impacted and affected even the smallest part of American life; Afganistan, and Iraq, were approached with a “hobby” attitude.

    Bottom line: based on decades (at least) of accurate, intimate intelligence, go in, hunt down whomever needs to be hunted down, kill whomever needs to be killed, collateral damage be damned, destroy what needs to be destroyed, collateral damage be damned, stay prepared to do it again. And again. And again. Do not be afraid to perform the hunt/kill/destroy function prior to receiving an insult, prophylactic action is more efficient (eg, killing a single Osama Bin Laden in 1990 would have been more efficient and less costly than killing thousands of Taliban in 2003-2021 and spending 18 years rebuilding 3 blocks of New York City (Bin Laden would have been replaced, keep killing the single replacements, all the way back to childhood or even prior to their conception).

  3. On August 27, 2021 at 7:19 am, Dindoo said:

    100,000 LDS missionaries or carpet bomb with Neutron bombs. Only choices.

  4. On August 27, 2021 at 7:38 am, Fred said:

    Re Obama. Islams only allegiance is to Islam. Never confuse what they say or appear to do as anything other than a tactic or strategy of deception.

  5. On August 27, 2021 at 8:56 am, Frank Clarke said:

    Let us speak plainly about the Middle East and idiots, among whom are many who think we’re doing great things there.

    Pigs will not simply fly… pigs will win dogfights against F-16s before anything in the Middle East (Israel excepted) resembles what any sane person would describe as “a functioning 21st-century nation”.

    Anyone who tells you that we will enlighten The Islamic World and bring them current is an idiot.

    If they don’t themselves believe what they’re telling you, they think you’re the idiot.

    If you believe them, you are.

    All Islamic societies are — architecturally — anti-technological, and the more fundamentalist they are, the more this becomes literally true. The paradigmatic fundamentalist Muslim society exists only within the matrix of a pre-industrial dark-age technology where education and wealth are starkly rationed to those at the top of the pyramid, and the bulk of society simply does what it’s told.

    Left to their own devices, all of Islam would revert to this in 20 or 30 years. We should let them.

    There are drawbacks to that plan, certainly. The principal drawback is that it promotes slavery, and slavery is both a moral and an economic abomination. It is a moral abomination because it supports and reinforces the idea that one person can own another. It is an economic abomination because it acts as “an anchor to windward”; it makes stagnation more economically attractive and thus impedes progress. This is why whenever in the modern world one finds slavery being practiced, it is a virtual certainty that it is happening in a Muslim nation. The Muslim mind-set does not see this stagnation as a problem to be solved. It is not ‘a bug’; it is a feature. The availability of labor at below-market rates artificially alters the cost of capital to make investing in alternatives less profitable and thus less attractive. In such a situation, technological progress happens almost exclusively among those who do not own slaves.

    This is precisely what happened in 1861-65: the Confederacy was almost exclusively agricultural because the availability of slave labor substituted for technological progress. The Union, a mix of agricultural and industrial economies, could bring technology to bear and after the Emancipation Proclamation and the resulting influx of Northern abolitionists into the Union Army, the South’s effort to secede collapsed.

    In an earlier time, the 14th century, The Black Death swept through Europe wiping out an estimated 1/3rd of the population. Human labor then became — because of its shortage — more valuable, and this was followed by an easily-predicted exodus of serfs (servants/slaves) from the farm to the city where they were paid wages for their labor and entered, thereby, an emerging middle-class. The sudden decline in the availability of farm labor seeded a need for mechanical substitutes, and this may have been the embryonic stage of the later industrial revolution. It certainly started the Renaissance.

  6. On August 27, 2021 at 11:21 am, Bill Buppert said:

    The Taliban didn’t conduct the 9/11 attack in America nor did Iraq under Hussein.

    aQ under UBL had tremendous support from dissident Sunni organizations in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and all over the Middle East. The Wahabbist Salafist Sunni violence center of gravity has always been Saudi Arabia.

    UBL just so happened to have a substation in AFG generously funded by the ISI in Pakistan and logistically reinforced through the very permeable 2,760km Durand Line in southern AFG.

    UBL could have based out of any number of countries, maybe we should count our blessings he didn’t choose Mexico City then the alliance logic would have been to invade Mexico to shut down the local aQ franchise.

    UBL had a savvy plan: invest about a million dollars to fly airplanes into buildings in CONUS as close to Mordor and Sauron as possible. Predictably, the west would then proceed to spend trillions of dollars to make war (on itself too hence wonderful results like the TSA) on the Islamic world, Sunni and Shia alike while UBL and his subsidiaries would frantically yell “Oh no, not THAT briar patch” at every opportunity.

    No matter how awful 9/11 was, it was the logical result of meddling in other people’s affairs endlessly who had no desire to be acculturated to western norms.

    Muslims don’t want democracy anymore than I do and whatever you think of Muslim culture, they have a deep masculine obligation to always weaponize Newton’s Third Law of Thermodynamics.

    You can’t stop the signal until you stop tuning in.

    Ironically, Sunni Muslim Inc is deeply invested in the Ivy League academic complex that provides all the foreign policy puppets for DoS and foreign policy gas cloud in DC invested in Sunni supremacy over the Shia Triangle+ [Bahrain, Iran, Syria and Yemen].

    Comrade-Secretary Blinken is simply the logical puppet to champion a foreign policy built on mass estrogen, woke navel gazing and toddler conceptions of economics.

    If you think times are interesting now, just wait a few weeks.

  7. On August 27, 2021 at 1:42 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Bill Buppert

    Re: “aQ under UBL had tremendous support from dissident Sunni organizations in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and all over the Middle East. The Wahabbist Salafist Sunni violence center of gravity has always been Saudi Arabia.”

    The so-called “global war on terror”has been cruel joke from the get-go, in the sense that no serious effort to deal with the Islamic threat can omit the Sunni Arab role in the propagation/perpetuation of the global “Great Jihad” as the believers term it, in particular Saudi Arabia. Running a close second in a dead heat are those other so-called “allies,” Pakistan and Turkey, neither of which is a friend or ally of any non-Muslim or non-Muslim nation.

    Here’s the bad news: The U.S. will not have anything approaching an independent foreign policy again until it and we are shed of the Arabs’ hand on the tiller of our foreign policy. I speak of the petrodollar regime, which gives the Arabs – in particular the Saudis – enormous leverage over our foreign policy and economy. Want to know why the U.S. has been at war, deployed, etc. in the Middle East so often in the last half-century? The answer is the petrodollar.
    And now that Tel Aviv and Riyadh are best pals, that lobby is even more powerful and influential in Washington, D.C.

    If the Saudi King calls, and tells the president “Jump!,” the commander-in-chief has to ask “How high?,” and do whatever he asks – or risk losing the privileged position provided by the petrodollar and all of those billions of dollars recycled back through western central banks and the federal government itself. Oh, and without debt instruments – U.S. T-Bills and the like – purchased by the Arabs, Japanese and other buyers, the U.S. government itself is insolvent.

    The Arabs, like a new pusher in town looking for people to buy his narcotics, hooked us on easy & cheap money back in the 1970s, and now, like a hardcore cocaine addict, will do just about anything to maintain a fix.

    Re: “UBL had a savvy plan: invest about a million dollars to fly airplanes into buildings in CONUS as close to Mordor and Sauron as possible. Predictably, the west would then proceed to spend trillions of dollars to make war (on itself too hence wonderful results like the TSA) on the Islamic world, Sunni and Shia alike while UBL and his subsidiaries would frantically yell “Oh no, not THAT briar patch” at every opportunity.”

    From the very beginning, or nearly so, I have seen this as their game plan as well. Osama Bin Laden and his colleagues in al-Qaeda closely studied the Vietnam War and its outcome and aftermath. They saw that “death by a thousand cuts” was an effective long-term strategy against a hegemonic super-power such as the U.S. Therefore, their strategy would be to strike outwards into the heart of the infidels, thereby provoking the colossus into a rage, and lure him into a protracted low-intensity conflict on ground unfamiliar to him. Once ensnared in the quagmire, the Taliban, al-Qaeda et al. could have their leisurely way with inflicting an assortment of agonies upon the now-immobilized U.S.+ NATO forces.

    Leaving aside the moral/ethical aspects of their actions for a moment, one really must credit the enemy for their dead-on accurate assessment of our mindset and probable course of action. They played us so well that half of the U.S. population still hasn’t cottoned to that fact.

    And as in Vietnam, an asymmetric or 4GW opponent needn’t triumph militarily at the tactical/operational levels; he needs only to survive intact-enough to resume business-as-usual when the invader-occupier finally pulls up stakes and returns home. Which is precisely what has happened.

    Viewed dispassionately, we are weaker than we were on September 10, 2001 across multiple categories and metrics of economic, cultural, political and military power. Grave, possibly irreparable, damage has been done to U.S. nation honor, prestige and standing in the world. Indeed, to our enemies and more than a few neutrals, we are a laughing stock.

    And that is without taking into the account the direct costs: $2.2 trillion dollars spent, and the many lives lost (KIA) or maimed/wounded (WIA) over that time. The enemy, however, is arguably in better shape than he was pre-9-11-01. The Taliban actually controls more of Afghanistan now than it did when the first U.S. troops set foot in the dust of that place almost 20 years ago.

  8. On August 27, 2021 at 2:00 pm, Fred said:

    Man TCJ is good. This post and the comments are instructive and thought provoking. Thanks guys.

  9. On August 27, 2021 at 2:54 pm, Liberty4Ever said:

    A lot of truth and sadness in that blog post.

    We live in a country where many of the people who serve in our military and their loved ones understand the realities of international relations and geopolitics far better than those who are making the decisions. That’s probably because they have the purer motives and the most to lose. The career military brass and the career politicians in what passes for civilian control of our military have entirely different motivations and purposes.

    The Afghanistan carnage isn’t over. For the poor natives, that toxic political religion of tyranny will continue, stronger than ever. Politically, socially, culturally and economically, there is no escape for those natural born victims. There will be some more pain, suffering and death on the US side in the short term but hopefully that 20 year nightmare is winding to a close and we can leave as Big Damned Losers, but never bet on the success of those playing to lose. There is still plenty of opportunity for the advocates of perpetual war to send US forces and materiel back into Afghanistan in a year or two on some God forsaken “peace keeping mission” or other excuse for more bonehead stupid interventionism. They love to spend Other People’s Money on endless wars that weaken the US, and they never learn from the death of Other People’s Children.

  10. On August 27, 2021 at 3:15 pm, Bear Claw Chris Lapp said:

    “On top of that, following the mantra to win hearts and minds, a set of ROE was put into place that made it impossible for the U.S. warrior to win”.

    Its a feature not a bug. The alternative does not support the military industrial complex.

    Hopefully this will be the last sacrifice of blood and treasure which disheartens me to no end.

    No country will ever trust America ever again, I hope, to prevent this. Although I am sure there are plenty more corrupt foreigners who would welcome it for the profit.

  11. On August 27, 2021 at 4:58 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Liberty4ever

    Re: “We live in a country where many of the people who serve in our military and their loved ones understand the realities of international relations and geopolitics far better than those who are making the decisions. That’s probably because they have the purer motives and the most to lose. The career military brass and the career politicians in what passes for civilian control of our military have entirely different motivations and purposes.”

    Yes, that’s well-stated and quite accurate. The following words come from the pen of Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC (retired), who authored the short book “War is a Racket,” which was published in 1935, four years after his retirement from the Marine Corps. The passage below forms the opening of the first paragraphs of the book.

    ” War is a racket. It always has been.”

    “It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”

    “A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”

    …/ /…

    “How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?”

    Butler was attacked relentlessly by his former bosses and their bosses in the shadows, on the basis of his statements – and was even called a communist. But such charges are obvious nonsense. Butler’s military pedigree was about as above-reproach as one could be. Only nine individuals have received multiple awards of the nation’s highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor. Butler was one of those men, having earned the designation twice.

    Butler was no socialist or communist; his real “crime” vis-a-vis the deep-state was tearing the lid off of the lucrative war-making racket in this country – and exposing it to the light of day and public scrutiny.

    Butler’s words were written about other wars and other soldiers who fought in them, but they are just as timely today as when they were first written over eighty years ago.

    Were there any causes for which it was worth going to war, in Butler’s view? Yes, and he addresses them in the book. He offers two things as worth defending by force of arms, if necessary: American homes, families and communities – and the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

  12. On August 27, 2021 at 6:24 pm, Hudson H Luce said:

    The US ‘alliance’ with Saudi Arabia is like an alliance of a scorpion with a goose, when the scorpion needs to cross a river – the scorpion kills the goose halfway across, because that’s the scorpion’s nature. And we no longer need their oil – and should never have become dependent on it – strategic military and economical resources with a 6000 mile supply line are folly. Same case for China, but that’s a lot worse, in way which everyone here knows about.

    There’s no such thing as “fundamentalist” or “radical” Islam – that’s *normal* Islam. The goal of Islam is to bring the entire world under submission to Allah, either by persuasion or force. And Islam is foreign to any notion of natural rights, it is the word of Allah in the Qu’ran which is the supreme law. Peaceful coexistence is only possible when the whole world is under submission. And those who are under submission to Islam have one duty in Dar ul-Harb, the outside world, the “sphere of conflict” – to engage in jihad against infidels. Bringing those people into non-Islamic countries *guarantees* conflict – it is their mission from Allah, and allowing them to stay as long as they have not renounced their faith, is folly. And that may fly in the face of the First Amendment, but if the religion is cover for aliens from a theocratic state to use conflict to advance their cause, then that Amendment needs a slight reformulation – perhaps “peaceful free exercise” would do the job.

    The bin Laden family was staying at George W. Bush’s family ranch in Crawford, Texas on September 11, 2001, and the only air travel in the US on the day afterward was them being flown out of the US. That struck a lot of people as being quite odd, back then. They were not interviewed by any part of the “intelligence community”, for some reason. And they bankrolled OBL from their billion-dollar construction industry. Perhaps that’s why the “chase” for bin Laden was so unsuccessful.

    A big part of the trouble is that the process of intelligence collection and analysis has been politicized in favor of neoliberal policies, so the people who need to rely on those agencies for impartial analysis in order to set policy have been repeatedly misled and even lied to. The latest – and most disastrous – lie was that the Afghan National Army existed at all, or had any loyalty to the Karzai or Ghani governments. It was no surprise to me to see that “Army” fold up like a cheap tent in a hurricane following the US statement about ending support. That little disaster came from the neoliberals at CIA and the State Department, who ratf*cked Biden like they did to Trump and threatened to do to any President who defied them. That was followed up by the neoliberals running the Pentagon, who closed Bagram Air Force Base, by slipping away in the dead of night, leaving arms, ammunition, aircraft, and other supplies to whomever wanted them – and the Taliban gladly stepped in… And that thoroughly sabotaged the evacuation effort, leading to the current debacle at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Those Pentagon neoliberal bureaucrats ratf*cked every American citizen left in the country, every troop stranded there, and quite a few others – and they ratf*cked Biden, too. And then the “intel community” did its part, too, mouthing some ridiculous nonsense about there being 90 days before the Taliban could possibly come in. They were only off by 83 days. Ooops, another “intelligence failure”.

    What Trump should have done, on his first day in office, at one minute after he assumed office, was to conduct a Joe Stalin-style purge of the Pentagon, the “intel community”, and the State Department. Biden should do the same, unless he wants to get ratf*cked right out of office and wind up in some godforsaken nursing home, doped up and drooling into his shoes until he finally gets shuffled off into Eternity – and a lot of other Americans and others around the world end up in the same location, albeit not so peacefully. The neoliberals infesting the government need to be purged either by effective leadership or by revolution, or like any other parasite, will hollow out and eventually destroy the host.

  13. On August 27, 2021 at 10:48 pm, Original Grandpa said:

    wow, Georgiaboy… (Douglasville here…) I agree and then some. McChrystal and ‘Betrayus’ are only two of many in our .mil ‘leadership’ who should resign – or commit seppuku – and get Lloyd Autism and Milley Vanilli, that traitorous Vindy-man… these clowns had a chain of command that they broke, dishonored themselves as officers and failed utterly to lead.
    This began years ago, and in all of it – again just as with Benghazi – Grandpa asks the question:
    “What imbecile with absolutely no understanding of warfare, made the decision to abandon Bagram?” My reaction upon hearing that news was “what in the… no way… fools.”
    The night we tucked tail and left Bagram will stand in history as one of the most idiotic moves ever made.

  14. On August 28, 2021 at 2:39 am, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Original Grandpa

    Thanks for the kind words. As the Texans say, I’d better buy a bigger hat! BTW, how are things in the Peach State? I don’t reside there at the moment, but I’ve always regarded it as home, as I was born there.

    In the old days, treasonous scum like the so-called general officers you mentioned, would have been publicly-shamed and perhaps handed a load pistol and told to go off and do the right thing someplace in private and save everyone the embarrassment, but nowadays? Not gonna happen. We live in a nation which has forgotten the meaning of honor and the meaning of virtue.

    I do not mean every individual, but speak instead of our public consciousness. Words like treason, betrayal, and honor/dishonor are no longer part of the popular imagination, and for that reason, I despair that anything will come of these disgraceful actions and events. Obviously, I’d like to be proven wrong, but I am not holding my breath on that one.

    As a nation, we sure could use a stern, take-no-nonsense type like General George Marshall of WWII. That man did such a service to the nation during the lean years between wars… he foresaw that the army would soon be earning its combat pay, and made dozens upon dozens of astute judgements to that end. Cutting out and eliminating dead-wood, promoting promising junior-to-mid-level officers over their more-tenured peers, and keeping a notebook jammed with notes concerning ideas and men who had impressed him … or failed to do so.

    Wars are famous for showing who’s got what it takes and who does not, but the wars of the past afforded enough time to make such distinctions. I’m not sure we have that luxury anymore, not here in the 21st century. Which is why we need a “new”George Marshall more than ever.

  15. On August 29, 2021 at 9:48 pm, George putnam said:

    Politician whores acting like whores should surprise no one. It is our costumed cretinous flag rank officers that bear responsibility for this 20 year, multi trillion dollar waist of American lives. Not one of these Cunt resigned in protest over piss poor strategies and policies imposed by political whores, not to mention fellow costumed cretins. Any of our flag ranked elite excrement that had a hand in this debacle should be dishonorably discharged or worse. The do not deserve the trust and confidence of their subordinates and the American people. Flush them ALL.

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You are currently reading "Thoughts On Afghanistan", entry #27964 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Counterinsurgency,Department of Defense and was published August 26th, 2021 by Herschel Smith.

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