I think that's a valid question. Its certainly been on my mind more than a little bit lately.
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once wrote an essay called "Security" in 1955. Way before any of the world's present bullshit was even a thought in most minds. He ended that essay by saying, "Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?"
I think this applies to a few other things that are going on in the world today. Most specifically, Obama's current waffling about whether or not he is going to send more troops to Afghanistan.
In the immortal words of the Door's, "The time to hesitate is through." Send them already, will ya?
We have a military situation in Afghanistan that in my well trained military eyes has reached what could only be described as a stalemate. Nobody's moving. One way or the other. Which is ridiculous. Get in there and win the fucking thing, or bring the boys back home! Simple.
However, I don't want that. I don't want any of them home until this thing is won. I can say that because I don't have any children over there right now, but make no mistake, I'll be headed back soon enough. (Wanderlust is a mother fucker.)
I spent entirely too much time of my life doing what my government sent me to do in that country to accept anything less than a victory in that God forsaken country. One drop of blood was too much to shed, but once it was shed, victory is the only thing that will vindicate that bloodshed.
So instead of being vague about victory like so many of our politicians, I came up with some standards for victory.
1. Secure border with Pakistan.
We have to do this before all else anyway. And if I were the general in charge of this shit that's where I would dedicate the majority of those new forces (if I got them). The bad guys filter in over the Pak border and set up their little exploding presents and conduct their operations with Pakistan as their base. So close the border and all of a sudden things will get a lot easier. Easily said, but not so easily done. But 40,000 US troops would have a pretty good shot of securing the border.
2. Freestanding, effective, respected government. That won't fold the first time the Taliban come and blow something up.
This is simple, and notice I didn't say corruption free. People who think they are going to get a corruption free government are to naive to live. Corruption is part of government whether anyone likes it or not. I think its laughable that people would want a corruption free government in Afghanistan when we don't have one here.
Freestanding, meaning they can stand on their own. Enforce their laws without US assistance, fight their own battles, their own wars, collect their own taxes, conduct their own elections, fix their own roads, do everything for themselves.
Effective, meaning they can do all the above mentioned things with a minimum of bloodshed.
Respected. In my blog when I was in Afghanistan I told you about the tribalism. Some people didn't even know that a central government existed, others knew about it but couldn't have cared less what it did or wanted. This is something that has to change there. A central government is integral to the success of that country and will be needed to make a viable nation. But until the people of that country accept and submit to a central government, progress will be either be slow or inert.
So are those the only things that need to be done to win in Afghanistan? Nope, definitely not. But I think those are the most important. You secure the border and next thing you know there isn't so much fighting to be done. Or maybe they just flip the switch and start coming in from Iran in greater numbers. But we can deal with that some other time.
Build a government is a huge undertaking. There's a million things that go in with that. Economic, diplomatic, educational, infrastructure and a ton of other concerns are all involved in building a government. But once there is one in place that can handle its own business then we can declare victory and roll out.
So if you ask me, they are going to have to send everyone that was in Iraq to Afghanistan. I couldn't imagine what would happen in that country if there were 200,000 US troops in that country, and they were deployed correctly. I can see it now...
-Afghanistan's borders with Iran and Pakistan have been secured by American troops standing guard every 10 meters.
-All roads have been cleared and secured by the newly instituted Afghani highway patrol.
-Searches are commencing of every residence and structure in Afghanistan. Under current troop levels this will be complete by Christmas next year.
-Afghani police and military academies and training centers are operating at optimum capacity. Churning out fully trained police officers and soldiers and their leaders in staggering amounts. The police will be fully staffed within six months and the military will be at 100% of its authorized strength by the end of next year.
-Afghani civilians are turning in Taliban operatives by the hundreds because they say, "There's no need to be afraid of them anymore, there are American and Afghani soldiers everywhere."
Ah, what a great thing that would be. But that's all pie in the sky bullshit.
However, it doesn't change the fact that an undertaking of this magnitude is not something that we can just walk away from. Stopping terrorism became nation building and we cannot leave under any circumstances until that nation is built. Whether anyone likes it or not.
There is still a mountain of work to be done. Work that will need to be done, one way or another. Give us the troops we need. Give us the resources we need. I've done my part, but don't worry, I just checked the deployments coming up and there's a few slots left for trainers for Afghani police in September 2010.
Fortune favors the bold, so let's get moving, let's quit waffling. The time to hesitate is through...thanks Jim.
I love you Mom...