by Ron Spangler
Talking to my neighbors and friends who are in the military and have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, some have served 2 and 3 deployments, one thing is very clear, moral for our military in Afghanistan is at an all time low. It is not the mission or the thought that they could lose this war and suffer defeat at the hands of the Taliban but rather they are starting to feel like the politicians will repeat their cut and run strategy of Vietnam. They are worried the President will continue to waiver back and forth. They worry this will give the Taliban time to consolidate their strength and numbers in all parts of Afghanistan. They know this will make the chance for a complete victory by our military more difficult and cost more lives.
The military cannot speak publicly on how they feel about President Obama's indecisive way of running the military or the preposterous idea that we can somehow live with the Taliban controlling parts of Afghanistan. If you talk to them one on one as a neighbor or friend you will find they do not believe this will work.
Upon John Kerry's recent return from Afghanistan he put forward the idea that maybe it wouldn't be so bad to let the Taliban control some of the tribal areas around Afghanistan while we devote or time building up the Afghan military and police. Kerry evidently believes the Taliban will be content to run these areas separate from the rest of Afghanistan and allow us to stay in the major provinces building modern cities with schools and a more moderate Islamic ideology. This is absolutely insane and our military knows it best. Either Senator Kerry has no clue of how much hatred the Taliban has for the United States and our allies or he knows and just doesn't want to admit the real enemy in Afghanistan is the Taliban.
What Senator Kerry is saying is not new. President Obama has said something similar in the past, when he talked about "peeling away moderate Taliban." Number one there are no moderate Taliban, either you are Taliban or you are not. Taliban is not simply a political party like we have in the United States. It is a Islamic theocracy that follows the strictest form of Islam and Sharia Law. They will not tolerate any religion, government, or laws that are in conflict with their warped since of governance over the Afghan people. It seems Senator Kerry and President Obama have no compassion or humanitarian concerns for the people, especially the women and children, that they would allow the Taliban to govern. Under this plan they are willing to stand by and watch while the Taliban returns to its old repressive and brutal ways. They are willing to watch while women and young girls are raped and murdered simply because they are less important than the animals owned by everyday Afghans. The President and Senator have forgotten that the Taliban does not believe in or have any respect for Constitutions or Civil Rights, they only believe in Sharia Law and their extreme interpretation of it.
This whole idea of dealing with the Taliban and allowing them to control and thereby govern any part of Afghanistan is eerily reminiscent of the Biden plan in Iraq. If Senator Biden had his way back when similar discussions were going on over Iraq, that country would be partitioned today with the United States acting as the peacekeeper and arbitrator over each of the warring factions. Fortunately his idea never received any real consideration, not because it was simply stupid but because everyone knew it was not feasible. What Senator Kerry is proposing is not that much different from the Biden plan for Iraq. The plan would not work in Iraq and it will not work in Afghanistan.
Some will argue that Senator Kerry never said that his plan was to work with the Taliban or allow them to remain in power in some of the areas around Afghanistan. To some extent this is true, however he did say: "Amazingly, the Taliban actually have ombudsmen to hold their shadow government accountable to the people. The legitimate government of Afghanistan cannot be less accountable than the Taliban, or we cannot be successful." This sounds like praise and it is absolutely not true. To think the Taliban could be held "accountable to the people" is the most naive statement I have ever heard.
Senator Kerry acts like Afghanistan is a country built around cities with modern roads and easy access from the rural areas to the larger towns and cities. He equates it to the United States with local and state governments running their particular state and providing security for it. He forgets that this is a 19th century country with rural areas still living in the 18th century. On one hand he says we must defeat the Taliban but on the other hand he says Al Qaeda is the biggest threat to the United States. He says we must not allow a return of Al Qaeda into Afghanistan but we do not need to increase our military strength. He says we must continue training Afghan military and allow them to gain security for Afghanistan without increasing our military. He says we must concentrate on building up Afghanistan cities, roads, schools and infrastructure thereby winning over Afghan support for a Taliban free Afghanistan without expanding the war inside Afghanistan. He says we should carry out a smaller counter insurgency plan that is more "doable" and "is “good-enough” governance, basic sustainable economic development and Afghan security forces capable enough that we can draw down our forces." This sounds like we only have to halfway win the war. I have never heard of halfway winning a war and I'm certain none of our enemies have this type of mentality. Either you are in a war to win or you are not. If you are not then please don't ask our military to sacrifice their lives for a mission that has no end.
In the end all the lofty goals that Senator Kerry set out in his speech can never be achieved if there is not enough security for the Afghan people. If we continue to allow the Taliban and Al Qaeda to terrorize the population we can never win their hearts and minds. If we do not have enough forces in place to protect the people while we are training Afghan forces, then the Afghan forces will find very little left to protect. Senator Kerry, like most politicians, is talking out of both sides of his mouth and has lost all respect of the military that have served and are now serving in Afghanistan. Kerry, Biden and Obama were all three against the surge in Iraq and they were proven wrong. If President Obama follows the plan of Biden or Kerry they will be proven wrong again. The stakes are too high to play a game out of something as serious as war. If any Commander In Chief loses the respect and support from his military or military commanders then he will surely lose the war. War is war and must be left to the men and women fighting the war. Mixing politics with war only leads to another Vietnam.
General McChrystal, and more importantly my neighbors and friends that are fighting the war, has said we can win this war with more troops. It is past time to stop the politics and support our troops. Even our NATO allies have said they support General McChrystal's plan and some are sending more troops. I cannot understand how our President can have less faith in his own general than our allies have in him. It is no wonder our President and by default the United States is looking weak in the eyes of our enemies and allies.