Stop the War Now
Not being a wise ass, I had no reply which was probably more of an admission than saying, “Yes, I qualify because I can read.” I wanted to understand China and how the country to which we were an ally in WW II became our communist enemy. Arthur Doak Barnett was a journalist who followed the retreat of Chiang Kai-shek from the agrarian country side to the big city of Shanghai. He documented Mao’s strategy to encircle the city population centers and to cut off the food supply from the farmlands. People in the cities became unmanageable and ripe for harvest by communist insurgents.
It takes little extrapolation to compare the possible dynamics between China and Afghanistan as Americans are encouraging the UN to follow them on such a strategy. Taliban enemies can attack supply lines and retreat to the countryside where there will never be sufficient forces to stop them.
“In 1966 he was the principal witness for an extensive review of China policy conducted by Senator J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. At the time China was regarded as an implacable enemy of the United States, a supporter of the North Vietnamese war effort and a virulent force seeking to topple democratic governments like so many dominoes.’
‘Mr. Barnett quietly encouraged both President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Richard M. Nixon to end China's isolation. And it was Mr. Barnett who coined the formula '’containment without isolation’ to describe a diplomatic opening that still recognized China's danger.” New York Times, March 19, 1999 (on his death)What were the lessons from Vietnam that apply here? From the television series, Frontline, Lessons of Vietnam: A Conversation with Major H. R. McMaster by Rick Young:
“Why did Johnson's ‘middle-course’ strategy in Vietnam--graduated pressure and constrained attacks--represent no strategy at all? Is warfare by political consensus doomed to fail?’
‘Johnson's strategy assumed, with no thought for the nature of the war, that any military action would constitute progress in the war effort. Without defining a strategic objective, he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Spring of 1965 to ‘kill more Viet Cong,’ a tactical mission. Meanwhile, the air campaign against the North and in the South continued. It remained unclear how bombing targets in North Vietnam and using massive airstrikes in the South against an enemy who was intertwined with the noncombatant population would help to establish conditions conducive to ending the war.”
I can tell you from an average citizen’s judgment, the Obama strategy in Afghanistan, even with 10,000 UN troops added to a surge of American commitment will not win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. Only when the Islamic nations of the region mature to a higher state with the prospect of coexistence will there be a desirable outcome. That is too big a bite for the US to swallow now.
Bring the troops home.