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Sunday, September 06, 2009

No gain 

As long time readers know, the Clarion Content has been opposed to the American war in Afghanistan since its beginning in 2001-02. We have never seen the connection to the terrorism of September 11th, 2001, an event rooted far more in Saudi Arabia. We have never believed that there was a unified Afghan nation to fight for. The shape and division of the population within the borders of the western conceit of the state of Afghanistan has doomed centralized authority to failure since its inception. The United States and its allies by holding with the forces of central authority risk becoming the new Soviets, universally detested and resisted by all save for their paid lackeys. President Obama must reverse course and withdraw from Afghanistan posthaste leaving behind only small teams of Special Forces to hunt for Osama bin Laden and his cohorts. Who, by the by, are far more likely to be hiding in Pakistan, a nuclear armed country that America increasingly risks destabilizing every day that it keeps a 100,000 troops in the Central Asian theater. A radical revolution in Pakistan could threaten the lives of all Earth's inhabitants.

Sadly, President Obama has only increased the United States ground forces commitment to Afghanistan since taking office, from 60,000 troops, to now nearly, 100,000 with recent reports indicating United States commanders are asking for more. This despite their own concerns about strategic failure. It is utterly remarkable that with the redux of the failure of nation-building that was tried in Vietnam still smoldering in Iraq, the United States is embarking on a similar strategy in Afghanistan. The Clarion Content believes you cannot pacify people over a long hall by bombing them. (Pacification via boming is doomed to fail unless one is willing to kill them all, the implied threat in the unconditional surrender demanded during World War II. The United States must not favor genocide.)

Nor should Americans ever accept that other people's lives can be labeled, "collateral damage," and forgotten.

None of this diminishes the tremendous sacrifice being made by the Americans serving in Afghanistan.

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--Pacification via boming[sic] is doomed to fail unless one is willing to kill them all, the implied threat in the unconditional surrender demanded during World War II.--

What, precisely, do you mean by this, Aaron? The demand for unconditional surrender had nothing to do with genocide, nor was there ever an implication of genocide.

The threat of dropping a third bomb on Tokyo, and thereby killing the Emperor certainly would have been a massive blow to the Japanese population, but it I think you have a far ways to go (and I'm talking graduate thesis-level here) to suggest that the Japanese ever thought the Allies had planned on killing their entire population. The fact that the surrender eventually was made unconditionally is, in fact, a strong suggestion that the Japanese knew that we didn't have a plan on mass-extermination of the Japanese population.

Whoa, I am in no way saying that the Allies really planned genocide at the end of WW II, in Japan or Germany. What I am saying is they had to convince the leadership of those countries that, if necessary, the Allies would keep fighting until every last one of theirs (Japan-Germany's citizens) was killed.

Thus the rationale to bring Russia into the war against Japan when by all logistical accounts it was patently obvious who was going to win. A similar rationale underlined the Allied bombing campaign of Germany, a will breaker that was designed to indicate, if necessary, we will kill you all, non-combatants included.

The way in which the island hopping campaign in the Pacific proceeded demonstrated to Allied leadership that surrender, simply because the battle was hopelessly lost, was not something most in the Japanese military were willing and able to accept. The iron-fisted way in which certain Pacific isles were (and had to be) cleared was a demonstration to the Japanese that the Allies would kill every last one of them, if that was what had to happen to take a given island.

The atomic bomb was Truman's methodology to get out of this morass. His (and many of his commanders) view was that fighting for the home islands of Japan to every last woman and child would have been far more devastating and destructive than the bomb.

Either way though, bomb or home island invasion, it was critical to signal to the Japanese (and the Germans before them) that there were to be no compromises. The Axis had to face that their choices were total capitulation or death.

It is obvious to all, America and its allies today are not presenting this kind of brutal choice to its enemies.
--It is obvious to all, America and its allies today are not presenting this kind of brutal choice to its enemies. --

Are you suggesting that we ought to?
No. I am suggesting that since we can't, won't and shouldn't conduct the Afghan War in this manner that America and its allies draw down their forces in Afghanistan to a level of small counterinsurgency ops only, while supplying significant development aid, especially for literacy and modern irrigation.
Why should we do that? Unlike Iraq, leaving Afghanistan in a state of near-lawless tribal warfare is actually an improvement over the situation they had before. What's the point of us throwing money into a sinkpit?
Supplying vast amounts of development aid into a country where there isn't a functioning government to disburse it, and refusing to provide the troops to control it, will be putting cash in the hands of the warlords. We tried that tactic in Somalia.
It doesn't have to be huge amounts of aid. It just has to be well-targeted. (not lump sum grants, not anti-drug money, not anti-family planning money, not aid for defense---literacy and irrigation, see Kerala.)

And it has to be externally implemented projects rather than allow aid distribution to be controlled by internal graft seeking, patronage playin' peeps.

America would have been, and would still be better served by targeted assistance of Somalia's development, rather than the current volatile cocktail of neglect, mixed with virulent hostility.
You didn't answer the question of why, though.
A pragmatist might talk about the benefits and advantages of order versus disorder, and development versus subsistence.

A utopian might talk about other people and our common obligations to humanity and each others basic needs.

I am a mix.

Take Somalia as an example, practically and morally America would have been better served not to disengage completely.
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