September 3, 2009

"How to Win in Afghanistan We tried the 'offshore' strategy before. The result was 9/11."

Max Boot boots George Will.


AllenS said...

Max Boot: "Recall the failure to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora because we wouldn't commit enough American troops."

Nonsense. I think he's talking about those 5000 Army Rangers that weren't committed. Where does Boot think those troops were going to come from? How does he think that they could have been moved into position that quickly to make a difference? Does he have any idea how many helicopters would be needed for that operation? Does he have any idea how many additional rear echelon troops would be needed to support those combat soldiers? I'm left wondering what type of military formation would have made a difference to Boot, dress right, dress?

Bissage said...

One side insists on the "offshore" strategy while the other side insists on the "boots on the ground” strategy.

But there is a way to compromise this disagreement.

Send in the flesh-eating robots.

They’ll have to be programmed with an expiration date, of course.

Joan said...

Generally, I agree with Boot, but I'm suspicious of polls supposedly revealing popular support for the US presence there. They smack too much of the "we'll be greeted with flowers" rhetoric from early supporters of the war in Iraq.

Afghanistan is not Iraq, though. Iraq had an infrastructure, a government, a national culture. Afghanistan has none of those things, and "winning" the war in Afghanistan is likely to take generations as we cajole it out of its tribal past and present into something resembling a modern society.

Kirk Parker said...

Well, it's certainly possible for both of them to be wrong, but I'll take my chances with Boots. Remember when McCain (accidently?) let slip that it might be years and years and years? Well, guess what--that is what it will take, if we're interested.

wv--shmenco: not exactly sure, but I suppose it's Yet Another Yiddish Euphemism for the Male Member.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Afghanistan is likely to take generations as we cajole it out of its tribal past and present into something resembling a modern society.

Well if it wouldn't become a safe haven for Islamofascists bent on flying planes into buildings, I for one would be content to leave them to their tribal ways. Then again I'm not content with spending our blood and treasure over the next few generations trying to civilize a region of
11th century goat herders and poppy farmers.

I second Bissage's motion and vote we send in the flesh eating robots.

AllenS said...

The last time we tried an offshore strategy it was against the country of Japan, and it was an amazing success.

traditionalguy said...

Michael Yon who is in Afghanistan and whom I believe is not playing politics with lives of brave young men was interviewed by Ed Morriesy ( on Hot Air) and was asked the question that Will has asked. He says that if we were not already there, then it would be crazy to send forces into the Afghan area and try to start a nation state. He says that the Afghan area tribes have no sense of being in an Afghan State that we have drawn on our maps, but is not on theirs. He also stated that being there to block Al Queda is not a reason since Al Queda can start up anywhere it wants. That leaves NO reason to escalate mission and troop numbers there except to co-operate with Al Queda's need for a new supply of Human Targets in their Afghan Ambush Training Center for Jihadist Recruits. That escalation is only rational if one is an anti-war and anti-military Progressive who wants to see the America's Military Commanders demoralised by a sure defeat so that they will no longer be feared in the world nor trusted by the American people with the lives of their sons and daughters.

madawaskan said...

Here is the only specific polling that Max Boot refers to-

An International Republican Institute poll of 2,400 Afghans in July found that only 19% have a favorable view of the Taliban compared to 62% who have a positive impression of the U.S. and 82% who view the Afghan National Army favorably. A poll taken earlier this year by the BBC and ABC found that only 4% of Afghans want the Taliban to return to power. He's talking about the Taliban's polling amongst Afghans-he also makes a very cogent point- we have a reputation for being fickle and pulling out he refers to the 1990s in Afghanistan but he also could have referenced the first Gulf War.

What happens to those that co-operated with us one iota when we leave them behind? It's not good and so far that has been the lesson learned by Afghans and others.

Now Max Boot gave some reference to poll numbers in the USA falling as motivation for George Will and others like him to want the Administration to bail...

Krauthammer even made a reference to this the other day except he took it one step further alluding to his guess that Obama's poll numbers are falling because of the turn of events in Afganistan...


I think this is what happens when you read too much Democrat spin-with the new theory being that Obama is losing support with Democrats and that it is because he is not Liberal enough.

It's almost tempting to let them go down this path but it looks like the wrong people would have to pay for it.

It's a bad premise.

Since, Obama has taken over Afghanistan and the reporting of what goes on there has fallen of the radar.

Ask the average person on the street about Kabul or have we pulled out of Pakistan and you are going to probably get an answer worthy of the Jay Leno show.

Obama's poll numbers have fallen because of America's wariness of what's happening to their future and present pocket book,-

Unemployment-in other infamous words-

It's the economy stupid!

That and some wide sweeping rushed changes with various missteps are why Obama's poll numbers are falling Obama has no one to blame but himself for that.

Triangle Man said...

Send in the flesh-eating robots.

Come on Bissage! I can't believe how blind you people and your flesh-eating robots strategy are to the realities of modern military operations. It's all zombies now.

former law student said...

Where does Boot think those troops were going to come from?

Not his problem, apparently. Which takes the sting out of the criticism without invalidating the conclusion drawn.

Allen S, meet tradguy: Japan was a modern industrialized nation state, while Afghanistan is a bunch of tribes. The Japanese authorities -- eventually -- concluded that surrender was better than having all your cities obliterated one-by-one. Maybe if Afghanistan had cities, industries, and a centralized government, they would respond as the Japanese did.

madawaskan said...


Well it is McChrystal and Petraeus that are asking for more troops-which by the way I don't think would be possible to put in there had it not been for te earlier strategy of less but more mobile troops.

I always hated when the troop surge was somehow touted as the antidote to the failed strategies of before.

Wars are dynamic the facts on the ground change as soon as you land-it's almost like Heisenberg's principle.

Heck if you've sent in UN observers to "observe" you've changed it.

Anyways I like the seemingly new algorithm of predicting and protecting the larger numbers of the populace rather than the few more random actions of the terrorists- they will always come in like wolves for the "numbers count" anyways.

traditionalguy said...

Fls...The Emperor stepped down from his Sun God duties long enough to surrender the Japanese military, against its will, only to save his skin when he figured out that A-Bombs could get to him too. Since we cannot use Nukes, we need to find battle sites designed for victory for us and not for the guerella warriors, which means we need to leave the Afghan mountains and defend in a defensable place another day. There is no such thing as a victory that will leave the Afghan Army guys to hold those Mountain Valleys. Reality is easier to deal with than politically induced delusions, said Joseph Heller more than once.

traditionalguy said...

Madawaskan...The battles are winnable with helo and A-10 air support. Forever. Those victories are not meaningful to a guerrilla force that only has to draw blood and scram. Forever. There is no local population willing to turn against Al Queda/Taliban and fight for us with betrayal for cash payoffs. They don't need the cash in those tribal mountains. So we can leave or we can revert to strikes by special forces. But to send in 30,000 National Guard guys on their 3rd deployment in 5 years to teach civics lessons and police skills to Afgan tribesmen is lunacy. The roads are bombed expertly and without a trace showing so that they are an ambush planners dream. We will lose 2/3 of the American men to those bombs just getting men and supplies into the Mountain Valleys with no purpose except the postponement our eventual defeat.

Leather Daddy said...

I once spent an enjoyable evening at the Eagle in Barcelona with a gentleman who went by the name, Max Boot.

madawaskan said...


Yep, I don't know what's in the new playbook that Obama has to read over Labor Day but my suspicion would be it's going to concentrate on protecting population centers and not pursuing the rest of it.

Now one cynic I know thinks Obama just sent more troops over so that the victory parades around October 2012 would be more impressive.

The military guy I know wants to strap them all down in their chairs and make them watch the end of Charlie Wilson's War over and over till they puke.

madawaskan said...

The military it is their job to plan long term and to provide for a continuum-I don't think the message should be to our enemies-wait out the Presidential cycle.

Otherwise we would add one more element to both the success of terrorism and to the weakness of elective government.

traditionalguy said...

Madawaskan...I am skeptic enough of Obama to presume that he will arrange whatever disaster will not be blamed directly upon him, while he sees to a quick as possible end to our exercise of power anywhere against the interests our new most favored mid-eastern friends, the Iranians.

Methadras said...

How to win an Afghanistan? Kill the enemy. Go after them, stop worrying about trying to be everyone's friend. President BarelyCare will now change his strategy to turn our military into an observation force. Bin Laden is elusive. He escaped Tora Bora by mere luck, but that shit happens. We need to hunt for him and his collaborators and sympathizers, namely the Taliban. Why is this so hard for politicians and generals who fancy themselves political wanna-bes?

madawaskan said...


our new most favored mid-eastern friends, the Iranians.

It's the new smart diplomacy...every things Neville again.

traditionalguy said...

Methradras... Do you remember the Atlanta Olympic Bomber in 1996? He also was an abortion clinic bomber, and as you can imagine he was The Most Hunted Man in the Feds history. Every summer in the Smokie Mountains near Bryson city NC ( where he was hiding)the roads were clogged with parked cars of Federal Officers hunting groups and their check points and roadblocks hunting him for 10 years. They never caught any sight of him, until one day he got tired and turned himself in. When will they ever learn?

Joe said...

We will never win in Afghanistan. The only way we could approach winning is to be as brutal as Genghis Khan and nobody rightly has the stomach for that. Besides all that, it's entirely pointless.

There is a chance we could maintain a stalemate for years, but we may as well call that a loss and so the only question now is, how do we lose gracefully and get the hell out.

(And no, I haven't changed my mind--even before the post 9/11 discussion started about going in there, I believed that the best strategy was to pound the Taliban out of power and then leave.)

Cedarford said...

Nixon's Vietnamization strategy was a success before Congress stabbed S Vietnam in the back and withdrew our aid and air support. The "Surge" in Iraq was a success mainly because it was all about "Iraqization" of the War.

There is no true way to "Afghanicise" a people that do not see themselves as Afghans but as members of tribes. The Russians learned that when they had 10 times the troops, far more ruthlessness to the enemy, and an easy logistics train into the place - on their failure to create a legitimate Central Gov't.

We have even less of a shot with the all-corrupt Karzai regime we set up. At least the Russians had true-believing Communists in their Potemkin Regime - who truly believed in something other than enriching their extended families with heroin money and "cuts" of any business in country.

That leaves the last of the dying, destructive Neocon Movement as the only ones arguing that we need to be there for generations and spend more each year than we would reforming healthcare..and eliminating perhaps 200,000 needless or premature deaths in the US medical system and begin to get control of costs. (which they reject as 'wasteful"...better the money goes to Noble Afghan Freedom Lovers!!")

The argument apparantly is that we need to beg and bribe the Pakistanis billions so we can use Pakistan as a logistics route to Afghanistan to get people and equipment in "to actually keep an eye on Pakistan and control events there if things go bad." And to prevent the AQ hiding in Pakistan, including bin Laden, from "reforming" in Afghanistan.

In brilliant neocon logic...It's so if Pakistan is taken over by radicals, our 50,000 men now cut off from all supplies through Pakistan..are poised to fight Pakistan's 3 million man military and 160 million hostile citizens to Liberate Them, in turn...And Save Israel!!

Synova said...

Certainly we can't "win" if we only do what has been done before only *harder*.

Synova said...

And maybe you've got a point there, C4, and we ought not be trying to force the creation of a centralized government at all.

How about a decentralized one? Perhaps, with a little bit of creative thinking our assumptions about what is necessary for a "government" can be set aside and a way could be found to *use* the tribal nature of the area instead of endlessly fighting against it.

Instead of saying, hey, you'll never win an election but we'll let you vote for the Mayor of Kabul, so stop fighting it will be fine; instead create confidence that people will NOT be forced to answer to Kabul. Try decentralized cooperation instead of centralized corruption. And limit that cooperation to the absolute minimum of building and securing roads and airstrips.

madawaskan said...

The Russian army of 1979 conscripts equals the US Joint Forces of today?

I guess this ends the discussion.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

I'm all for nation building and using out armed forces to protect us. The apparent fact that the Karzai government replaced voting boxes in the South of the country with ones they stuffed is a big issue to me. We do not have an honest partner apparently. We are sponsoring a corrupt one. If we can not make him or someone else there hold an election when they say they are we should seek another strategy.