In a recent article for TIME magazine, perpetual whiner, Joe Klein asks, ‘Why Are We In Afghanistan?” He calls it, “The Aimless War.” People should be shocked-absolutely shocked to see a veteran writer go all the way to Afghanistan, talk to troops, civilians, leaders, etc., and still not understand why NATO and the United States are in Afghanistan. Of course, it is Joe Klein, and when it comes to military matters he has all the tactical and strategic understanding of a doorknob. It’s like looking to a comedian or a sportscaster for political or military insight (though it is amazing how many people go to Keith Olberman and Jon Stewart for their information).
Klein returns from his useless adventure with little more than a pimp-punditry paper on excusing isolationist policies rather than engagement of genuinely bad guys; suicidal members of death cults bent on hunting down and killing Americans by any and all means. His article whines about how hard things are over there as if the very word “Afghanistan” isn’t a historical synonym for “ass end of the world,” “land of the nearly impossible,” or at least “graveyard of empires.” Of course it’s hard over there. It’s a war zone in the worst place on the planet. It’s a place that has known little more than war going back almost 10,000 years. The people are not the sharpest knives in the drawer by western standards because building schools has never been as useful to them as building bunkers, trenches, and dugouts. Their ideas about women, human rights, etc are not western, because the west has always asked the two connecting questions: “Why are we there”+”Why not just leave?” …and then left!
Klein actually managed to go all the way to Afghanistan to report on the insurgency there, and he never read a book on what an insurgency IS. He never read the 911 Commission report on WHY the United States and NATO are in Afghanistan, and (my favorite) the title to his article labels it an aimless war, questions why “We” [the United States] is in Afghanistan, and the man doesn’t even mention conversations with United States forces, officials, etc.
“Why Are We [Americans] there”….let’s ask the Canadians, Dutich, British, and then write about how aimless the American effort there is? Talk about arrogance on the part of a writer, his editors, a magazine, and the ignorance of its readers.
The war in Afghanistan was proposed by the Clinton Administration’s Richard Clarke in 1999 (according to his book, the 911 Commission, Bill Clinton’s memoirs, Madeline Albright’s book, and others). Why? Because Al Queda and their political wing, the Taliban, were using Afghanistan as a terrorist state bent on attacking the United States. Two years later, they succeed. Tomahawk missiles were not readily available. In fact, even ammo for tanks is scarce, but they had two things in abundance: hate and conviction. From that point, all they needed was a few guys and some box cutters. 3000 people died as a result, and where does that hate come from? It comes from the abandonment of Afghanistan to a land of infinite chaos and war instead of a land of hope and peace.
So Klein, in complete ignorance of the 911 Commission report, multiple Clinton Administration memoirs, and without talking and citing any Americans in Afghanistan, asks, “Why are we [Americans] there?”
If I turned in a story to my 8th grade English teacher, and the story was about eagles, but all I talked about were doves….she’s have torn it up. This goes beyond stupidity-even beyond propagandist arrogance. It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. It reinforces the idea that poor writing, incompetent editors, and vain efforts are killing print journalism.
The Aimless War? I think not. It’s time Mr. Klein and his editors looked at page ONE of the US Army Counterinsurgency Manual:
1-1. Insurgency and counterinsurgency (COIN) are complex subsets of warfare. Globalization, technological advancement, urbanization, and extremists who conduct suicide attacks for their cause have certainly influenced contemporary conflict; however, warfare in the 21st century retains many of the characteristics it has exhibited since ancient times. Warfare remains a violent clash of interests between organized groups characterized by the use of force. Achieving victory still depends on a group’s ability to mobilize support for its political interests (often religiously or ethnically based) and to generate enough violence to achieve political consequences. Means to achieve these goals are not limited to conventional forces employed by nation-states.
1-2. Insurgency and its tactics are as old as warfare itself. Joint doctrine defines an insurgency as an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict (JP 1-02). Stated another way, an insurgency is an organized, protracted politico-military struggle designed to weaken the control and legitimacy of an established government, occupying power, or other political authority while increasing insurgent control. Counterinsurgency is military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency (JP 1- 02). These definitions are a good starting point, but they do not properly highlight a key paradox: though insurgency and COIN are two sides of a phenomenon that has been called revolutionary war or internal war, they are distinctly different types of operations. In addition, insurgency and COIN are included within a broad category of conflict known as irregular warfare.
1-3. Political power is the central issue in insurgencies and counterinsurgencies; each side aims to get the people to accept its governance or authority as legitimate. Insurgents use all available tools—political (including diplomatic), informational (including appeals to religious, ethnic, or ideological beliefs), military, and economic—to overthrow the existing authority. This authority may be an established government or an interim governing body. Counterinsurgents, in turn, use all instruments of national power to sustain the established or emerging government and reduce the likelihood of another crisis emerging.
1-4. Long-term success in COIN depends on the people taking charge of their own affairs and consenting to the government’s rule. Achieving this condition requires the government to eliminate as many causes of the insurgency as feasible. This can include eliminating those extremists whose beliefs prevent them from ever reconciling with the government. Over time, counterinsurgents aim to enable a country or regime to provide the security and rule of law that allow establishment of social services and growth of economic activity. COIN thus involves the application of national power in the political, military, economic, social, information, and infrastructure fields and disciplines. Political and military leaders and planners should never underestimate its scale and complexity; moreover, they should recognize that the Armed Forces cannot succeed in COIN alone.
Perhaps the best source for understanding why NATO and the United States are in Afghanistan can be found in the 911 Commission’s final report. There are several sections that detail WHY Afghanistan was and is important to the war with Al Queda (a war declared by Bin Laden in 1992; sixteen years ago). Perhaps the best can be found in sections 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5
He returned to Afghanistan.
2.5 AL QAEDA’S RENEWAL IN AFGHANISTAN
Bin Ladin flew on a leased aircraft from Khartoum to Jalalabad, with a refueling stopover in the United Arab Emirates.62 He was accompanied by family members and bodyguards, as well as by al Qaeda members who had been close associates since his organization’s 1988 founding in Afghanistan. Dozens of additional militants arrived on later flights.
No Mr. Klein, AMERICA and the rest of the world are in Afghanistan because if they weren’t, it would become another terrorist state. There is historical evidence to prove this as well as theoretical. Moreover, there is a plan for Afghanistan, but one cannot understand why Americans are in Afghanistan by asking Dutch, French, Canadian, or British soldiers who are there as peacekeepers. Why? Because American troops are there not only as peacekeepers, but also on the attack in a counterinsurgency. It’s not the same as in Iraq as no two battles or wars are ever the same (this ain’t a football game). The coming surge and shift of operations in Afghanistan is necessary, allegedly supported by the left (including President-elect Obama), and while having many of the same maxims and tactics will be as unique as every setting and scenario is.
How sad is it that TIME magazine and a veteran “writer” like Joe Klein could get away with such a puff-piece of poorly-written, sensationalist rhetoric; an article with a title that’s completely unsupported by the text within? Maybe, as Newsweek and other print pubs look at layoffs….Joe Klein should go back to Kabul and start his own publication? One wonders how fast he’d be demanding MORE peacekeepers were he to live and work there?