Well a lot of the guys around here make fun of me because I say certain things a lot. Amongst the things I say with ever increasing frequency is this:
You’re going to be fine, you’re going to be just fine.
So why did I tell you that? Because I am about to ask Barack Obama some questions and then I am going to answer them for him. Not to mention I am going to throw a little commentary at you about the conservatives in the military and I just love to say that to them.
YOU’RE GOING TO BE FINE, YOU’RE GOING TO BE JUST FINE…
To whom do I say this little gem? Pretty much everyone I know at one time or another. Where did it come from? Prison, a federal prison is where this one originated. This is what I tell my inmates whenever they get onto one of their little fits of bitching where if one did not know better and heard this tirade you would swear that the sky was falling.
I say it calmly and with the requisite amount of condescension but it’s true, the sky is not falling, the sun will rise again tomorrow and you are going to be fine.
Which is what I love to tell all the conservative lunatics that are here in Uncle Sam’s mean green machine whenever they lose their cool talking about what Obama is going to do when he gets into office and what not.
You would think that the conservatives around here thought that Obama is about to usher in an age when the military will be weakened to the point of irrelevancy, and all their money is about to be taken by the government and given over to…France.
Now the extremity of their ideas is laughable but for the most part the virulent dialogue that qualifies as debate around here is almost exclusively directed at Obama. Which provides me with an endless amount of entertainment given the fact that I love to stir up the shit and I also love to be the guy who disagrees with everyone else. Sometimes I wonder if I was home in Chicago where everyone loved Obama if I would’ve supported McCain just to be a pain in the ass. But I digress.
We all know that Obama has a full plate to deal with. He has one war to end, and one war to win. He has an economy that is truly in the shitter, and all the problems that come with that. He inherits a country whose standing on the world stage has never been shakier, and on and on…
Which issue is most important to me? Well if you guessed the war in Afghanistan, then there is another ETS cookie for you.
What is he going to do about this war? Where will he take it? How many more guys will he send here? How is he going to deal with the war-profiteers err civilian contractors that are here? If he does send more guys here, where will he have them sent? The questions about this one are literally endless. Each answered question gives rise to about twenty more.
So in order to further my patriotic duty as an American soldier, and in order to offer constructive solutions as opposed to just bitching I am going to answer every one of my questions and present the new president with a little plan on how to win this thing. I am going to use the “If I were you” format for answering the questions. I also realize the obnoxiousness it takes for a lowly enlisted soldier to presume to lecture the president on how to conduct a war and his international affairs, but hey, I am obnoxious so here we go.
What are you going to do about the war?
If I were you the first thing I would do is come up with a workable timeline for leaving Iraq. I think anywhere from 18-24 months would be feasible. The whole 16-month thing you were talking about might be a little too ambitious and you want to leave yourself some wiggle room. If something goes on that would delay the whole thing you don’t want to be shackled to the 16-month promise.
Next thing on the agenda would be moving most if not all of those combat assets from Iraq to Afghanistan. Actually this would be a concurrent thing. As resources are no longer needed in Iraq they could be transported over to Afghanistan. I would recommend that you have all this stuff fixed in Kuwait or Qatar so that the equipment would not have to go home. Easier shipping, you know what I mean.
Following the transfer of all of those military resources to Afghanistan I would hope that the generals you have in charge would see the need for a massive redeployment of troops and material within the theater. I have talked in the past of Afghanistan’s strange political dynamic that places the real power firmly in the hands of the tribal elders, mullahs, warlords, and militiamen out in the countryside and the mountains. Contrary to the American model which concentrates political power in the urban centers. Bearing that dynamic in mind two things should happen.
First, military forces in this country should be concentrated in the borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent the free reign border crossing that makes this war so damn hard to fight. In addition those forces should be concentrated out in the countryside to the south and east of this country. That is where the Taliban is rebuilding from, so that is where we need to be with the guns and bombs to prevent that rebuilding from taking place.
Secondly, have you ever heard of a “loya jirga” Well it’s a big council meeting of Afghan leaders. Not just the political appointees and the elected gangsters that they have in Kabul right now. I mean real Afghan leaders; the tribal elders, the mullahs, and all the guys that hold real sway out in the provinces that aren’t controlled by Kabul. Just so you know that is pretty much all of them except Kabul, not to mention I would bet my left nut that Kabul only holds power inside the city limits of Kabul and has very little real power outside the city in its own province. But I could be wrong.
I would recommend that you, or someone with some real juice come here under invitation from Hamid Karzai and perhaps secure the invitation of the Pashtu leaders in the border areas. (This would help out immensely with security, given the Pashtu and Islamic value placed on hospitality) Come here and participate directly in a debate with the loya jirga. I am not going to lie, this would be wild, Afghani politics is a contact sport and they would come out guns blazing. Maybe that was a bad metaphor.
Come to the loya jirga ready for them. Make sure you come with a plan. Tell them what you want to do for Afghanistan economically, socially, culturally, and militarily. And tell them what they have to do to ensure that American resources are not squandered and/or misused.
I would do some reading up on this one, the loya jirga I mean. There is nothing in American politics that really comes close. The closest thing would be like a congressional debate with very few rules and a two-drink minimum. Also be advised that one of the recent loya jirga’s that took place consisted of over 1800 people. This is not going to be any small affair.
Doing this would serve a myriad of purposes. First you would endear yourself to the Afghani people. Second you would be able to put your finger on the pulse of this nation. When presented with an opportunity like this the tribal leaders and warlords would come out in droves. Which would serve a third purpose of helping to identify whom holds power, and where they hold that power. If they had the juice to get elected to the loya jirga they obviously have the juice to make the moves that are needed to bring stability to this nation.
Take each and every suggestion seriously and examine all the possibilities presented. These people know their country and what it needs better than we do, I think if you want to preach the politics of inclusion there is no better chance than this to show you are serious.
Where will you take this war?
If I were you, the logical conclusion of this war is a stable Afghanistan with a functioning economy and society, and a government favorable to the United States and the world in general.
Well that is a mouthful and a shit ton easier said than done. So what would we need to do to accomplish that end?
Interconnectivity in this country is key to the stability of this country. Not only am I talking about cell phones and computers but I am also talking about the infrastructure of this land that will allow the free transport of goods, services, and people across the barren wastelands that permeate most of Afghanistan.
A nationwide highway system is so important to any stability that Afghanistan will ever see. There is no way that any central authority could ever be achieved in this country without it. How can the government assert its power in the countryside if it can’t even get there?
This is going to require one tremendous investment on the part of the international community. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how many billions of dollars it will take to pull this off. So may I be so bold as to make a suggestion as to how to do it.
Pull all civilian contractors out of the war in Afghanistan. They have already made entirely too much cash off this war anyhow. Tell them to go home and find regular jobs with paychecks that are commensurate with their skill set as opposed to coming here and driving a truck for $10,000 a month. There is precedent here as well. I found out that while in Kosovo and Bosnia (NATO or the UN) whoever’s mission that one was gave $2,000 per month per soldier to all nations that sent soldiers there. The governments of some other countries gave that money to their soldiers, while others, our government included kept that money and did not give it to the soldiers. Why? Because American soldiers are not mercenaries. Am I the only one who finds it slightly hypocritical that we would do that and then turn around and pay these people astronomical amounts of money to do something that all logic would say should be done by a soldier. But I digress.
This highway would not only connect the country to the city, it would speed the movement of military assets and material, it would contribute to winning the hearts and minds of the Afghani’s and would connect them to each other facilitating the transfer of ideas and dialogue and debate. Even if they have to drive it from one place to the next.
The second step in the process of connecting this country is telecommunications. Now this unfortunately is an area where civilian contractors would have to be used. Last time I checked the army didn’t have a phone company.
Cell phone towers need to go up everywhere. Make it to the point where cell phones are just as common here as they are in the states.
Get the regular phone lines up.
Get the mail system up to par.
Get the computer and Internet systems here up to a level where they can support the massive amount of demand that will come when people realize what is going on.
AND MAKE DAMN SURE THAT NONE OF THIS SHIT IS CENSORED!!!!
If you see what I am getting at, I do truly believe that this society would never be able to handle a free and democratic government right off the bat. But maybe it is a bit Machiavellian of me, but I can deal with that, so long as the avenue that will lead to the eventual formation of said democratic government is there.
The free exchange of all the ideas that this country can muster and the debate that will lead to the formation of new ideas, all of which will be facilitated by the Internet cannot be overstated.
Not to mention the ability of the Afghan people to see the rest of the world and how it functions and to be able to demand similar conditions from its own government is paramount.
The Afghani’s will eventually come around to a western way of thinking. Everyone always does so long as they are exposed to the ideas.
The free exchange of ideas is one of the few real questions I have. I don’t really have any suggestion for ensuring that other than requiring it of the Afghani’s and that smacks of American elitism and condescension. Which is not good. But you have people smarter than I to figure that out.
I already spoke to what I would like to see done with the civilian contractors so I won’t reiterate it. Just understand that the only civilians that should be allowed into a war zone are those who have such a highly specialized skill that no soldier, sailor, airman, or marine can be found who can do their job. Enough said. The next questions were how many more guys will you send here and if you do, where will you send those guys?
If I were you I would secure the border first. The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is already well known as the most lawless place in the world. I know for a fact. How do I know this? Because I live really, really close to it. I don’t really know, nor do I have the resources required to give you an accurate estimate of how many troops it would take to secure this border. But I can say that it would number somewhere north of 150,000. (Bear in mind there are like 190,000 guys in Iraq.) Probably more, not to mention that the border between Iran and Afghanistan has to be secured for the same reasons. I mean there would need to be FOB’s, and outposts, and border patrol stations every 50 feet or it quite frankly is not going to work. Now that sort of presence could not be sustained for years on end, but it could be sustained long enough for the interior of the country to complete some of the work or rebuilding and by doing that you would make the country hostile to those crossing the border.
Next thing up would be chasing down the ones that we have in here already. You know the ones that don’t jump the border every October to avoid the harsh Afghani winters. Presently, our forces are concentrated in a few urban centers. This is a bad idea, the Soviets tried it and we all know what happened to them. Our forces need to be concentrated in the countryside and mountains of Afghanistan. I’m not advocating that we abandon the urban areas but they are no where near as important or volatile as the rural enclaves that have allowed the Taliban to reemerge as a powerful force in this country.
The Taliban presence in this country cannot be allowed. In no capacity can the Taliban operate in this country. They must be hunted down, killed or imprisoned and they must cease to exist as an entity. That is all there is to that. I have seen and felt the work of these men first hand. There is room neither on this earth, nor in any sort of civilized world for them. They must be eradicated.
To that end, a whole lot of American soldiers will be needed to secure the countryside. Once the border is secured then their reinforcements and supplies will come to a screeching halt and then the troops within the country can begin the hopefully not so long and arduous task of hunting and killing the remnants of the Taliban and the insurgency.
With a secure border the work of rebuilding this nation could take place. No one should assume that it will be easy or without tragedy or loss of life but nothing ever is. However, once that work begins in earnest and the Afghani’s see that there is nothing to be gained from opposing the development of their own country and that the west in general is a friend to Afghanistan then, as I said before, they will become hostile to those who would disrupt this process. Then the Taliban, and the insurgents would feel not only the weight of the American military but also the weight of the Afghani people. Taken together that weight would be a crushing blow.
Well I am sure that someone has already said pretty much every thing I have come up with thus far. All you really have to do is to look at history to see how to fight this war. Read all about how the Soviets did things here, and then do the exact opposite. So that is what I suggest.
Mr. President, I don’t know if you will ever even see this but at least I got it out there. Now to the rest of you, especially the Professor and Sooner23, let’s hear it. I want a debate on this one. I want questions, I want suggestions, I want “what ifs”, I want disagreement, I want alternate theories, I want it all. I didn’t just sit down and write damn near seven pages like I am a freshman in college again for nothing. Consider this a rough draft of a work in progress that needs to get critiqued and graded and cut up and analyzed and revised. And I want all of you to help me with it. So let’s hear it, what are your thoughts, what are your ideas for improvement, what did I get wrong, what did I get right, and all of that.
All right, so I am done, for now.
I love you mom…