Our politicians excitedly discuss troop increases in Afghanistan. Should we send more troops? Should we wait till the current ones are all used up? Can someone get involved in a sex scandal so we can stop talking about this? Those politicians have all kinds of questions. But there is only one right answer to increasing troop strength in Afghanistan. Send them all.
We must avoid armed conflict when we can. In all cases, we should resolve these issues through talks and mediation. The preferred outcome is mutually beneficial to everyone involved and, if not that, then at least an amicable parting of company. On those occasions where armed conflict cannot be avoided, we must fight to win.
Without arguing whether we should have engaged in war in Afghanistan, we are there now and have been for eight years. Our progress is limited. There is no good reason for this. The enemy is not that strong or gifted. Our soldiers are well trained and equipped. The only reason we have not made greater progress is that our politicians have half-assed this whole process. (Regular visitors to this site know that I keep the language fairly clean, so that is a pretty strong statement.)
Right now, the Afghan people are more afraid and more respectful of the Taliban than of us. They have faith that the Taliban is capable and that we are not. They will help, if at least not hinder, the Taliban in the war against us because of this faith. They do not believe that we will win. Neither does the Taliban.
That's a serious problem. You win violent conflict when the other side no longer wants to fight. This can be because they believe in their own defeat or because they are no longer capable of wanting. By sending a minimal force to Afghanistan we show the Taliban an army that can be fought and defeated. We cannot win that away.
The only way of taking the fight out of the Taliban is to send such an overwhelming show of force that they lose hope. The enemy, as well as the local non-combatants, must look at our show of force and decide that maybe messing with our forces is a bad idea. This is the way to cut down on recruitment on the other side.
That recruitment is a big issue. Every time the Taliban makes a successful or even showy but unsuccessful, attack against US troops, they get to go brag about it. They get to talk about the inherent weakness of the American forces and how if they all get together now they can beat us. They really don't see that there is a huge nation and massive piles of resources asleep on the other side of the world.
So, why won't our politicians do something about this? Much of it has to do with the current attitude of the American people. We are lazy. We are poorly educated about the interconnectedness of the world. We have no concept of self-sacrifice. We are a people for whom extreme means fun. The politicians bow to public pressure.
The media aren't helping. Gone are the days during World War II when the media played along with a pro-American, let's band together message. Now they jockey to see who can do the best job of tearing things down. A politician who wants to increase troops is a war mongering monster who wants to kill brown people, but a force that wants to kill or convert every American is a nebulous group of oppressed people who won't bother us unless we bother them. After all, according to the media, we make terrorists by going over and fighting terrorists.
If we want a time of peace, especially one that will last a while, we must win in Afghanistan and we must do it in such an overwhelming way that other potential foes are less likely to want conflict. In the future, when we say we want a peaceful resolution everyone else should nod in agreement. That is not going to happen now. Unless we can send those forces to Afghanistan, it never will happen. Unless this country can pull together, media included, this country will not exist much longer.
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