So my gunner got a package today. Inside this package was a Newsweek magazine from February, 9 2009. On the cover, which was completely black except for the lettering, were the words, “Obama’s Vietnam, How To Salvage Afghanistan”
I can only assume that his parents thought he might like to read what was inside due to the fact that he and I have had so many ridiculously long conversations about exactly what was inside. An article by Fareed Zakaria, now I have no idea who the hell he is (I know I probably should) but apparently Newsweek is hiring some writers who either have half a brain, or grew up in Afghanistan.
So the article he wrote was called, “A Turnaround Strategy.” Well, let’s see what Mr. Zakaria has to say. He begins with a story about how some local Afghan villagers took up arms against the U.S. In the Uruzgan Valley. They fought along side the Taliban pricks that were embroiled in an intense firefight with American soldiers. Accidental insurgents they were called. Now I just pray that the locals around here don’t take up arms against us. I can see it happening, but I have kinda gotten used to them, it would be a shame to have to shoot them.
Then he hit me with another one that bothered the hell out of me. He said, “But I don’t believe it is a quagmire-yet.” Ah, how thoroughly depressing. One simple word, “Yet” can tangle my mind into a knot.
So I think I have said before, I know I have said before, that this whole thing seems like a big game of hold what you got. Which is a much lower class way of saying quagmire, so I can run with him on that one.
He goes on to give a four point plan for reversing the direction of this war, which I have to admit I don’t entirely agree with, but it makes a lot of sense.
Oh, by the way we got back on missions today and we drove a really long way out today and then we came back. I couldn’t believe it but I started thinking to myself, “You know what, I wish these assholes would blow me up or shoot at me!” You know just to break the monotony of it all. So there is absolutely nothing to write about so I’ll evaluate someone else’s writing. However, there is one bright spot. There is some General here who is investigating our chain of command which makes me happy. Nothing will come of it, I am sure, but it will be fun to watch the commander sweat for a few days. Stay tuned.
Anyway, back to this guys article. First point: Do counterinsurgency right. He was long winded and wordy with this part but the basic premise is that instead of running around here with guns blazing and killing everyone and performing regular military missions. You know, hunt and kill, search and destroy, raids and all that shit. We should be gaining the trust of the people, making them feel secure, not overreact to every provocation and becoming a productive and welcome influence in the community.
Okay, finally someone that is smart saying something that makes sense. It breaks down like this folks. I want to kill these Taliban and al Qaeda pricks just as much as the next guy. However finding them is a tough one. Like looking for one particular needle in a mountain of needles. Know what I mean? The fact remains however, that every door we kick down (if we ever got to do that), every person we kill, every air strike we call, every place we bomb, every village we roust, we create ever increasing animosity between us and the people of this country. We create the breeding ground for the very thing that we are trying so very hard to destroy.
Second Point: Strengthen the Afghan government. All that comes down to is we have to ensure that there are legitimate elections here within the foreseeable future. The government that I have seen so far is about as corrupt and inconsequential as it gets. I watched the other day as we unloaded humanitarian aid from a helicopter and tried to load it into trucks, an Afghan commander punch and kick his guys because he thought that we were taking it away from him. Anyone besides me think that this guy thought we were taking his money away from him? You could see it in his face, he was thinking that he wouldn’t have anything to sell if we took all this shit from him. Not a bad racket if you ask me. Take all the free shit they send you from the States or wherever it comes from and sell it. 100% profit. Al Capone would be proud.
I couldn’t even begin to tell what corruption goes on around here. All I can really say is that, this place makes the Illinois legislature look like a girl scout troop. Think about that.
Third Point: Talk to the Taliban. Ouch, I don’t want them to do that, but he offers some pretty convincing arguments that the Taliban aren’t necessarily the problem, its al Qaeda. So I guess that I can live with that. However, I still think that the Afghan people should be offered a choice of their government because they hate the Taliban almost as much as they hate us. Given the chance I don’t think the Afghani populace would choose the Taliban so I guess it wouldn’t hurt.
Fourth Point: Pressure Pakistan. Okay, now here is where I have to say quite simply, we have to sit right on Pakistan’s head. There is no way around it. Whether we are willing to face it or not Pakistan is where the lion’s share of this shit comes at us from. They hit us from inside Pakistan, they use it as training ground, as recruiting ground, they use it to lick their wounds in winter, they use it to hijack many of our supply convoys on routes that Pakistan is supposed to have control of. Until we control either Pakistan or we control the crossing of the Pakistan/Afghan border then we aren’t going to be able to accomplish a thing.
So I guess that I am glad that I know there are at least a few smart people back home advising that we do some of the things that I have talked about in the past. Hopefully they can say it a lot better than I can so that someone might listen to them. In the meantime all I can really hope is that this doesn’t become my own Vietnam...
I am done for now.
I love you mom...